A 21-year-old man was reportedly hours away from being taken off life support after having been in a coma since a car accident in October.
According to the Associated Press (via Washington Post), 21-year-old Sam Schmid was in a critical car accident in Tucson , Ariz., on Oct. 19.
At the time Schmid, a college student, was not given an optimistic diagnosis. He sustained a brain aneurysm, along with other severe injuries. Doctors scheduled Schmid for brain surgery, and he was flown to Phoenix where Dr. Robert Spetzler performed the surgical procedure. After the surgery, reportedly Schmid showed no responsive signs, indicating he was braindead; staff discussed removing life support.
After an MRI scan indicated Schmid was not "at a point of no hope of survival", Dr. Spetzler recommended his patient be kept on life support for another week.
A few days later, on Oct. 24, Schmid responded to his doctor's command to hold up two fingers. From this point on, the healing and recovery began.
About Schmid's response to holding up two fingers, Dr. Spetzler said, “It may not seem like a lot to you. It’s an incredible loop to show brain ability. That was like fireworks going off.”
"It's a miracle, continuing, where I was to where I am now. I know I've made a lot of progression," Schmid said, reported KABC.
Now Schmid is getting ready to go home to continue out-patient rehabilitation. According to the AP report, he was dressed, walking about with a walker and talking in brief sentences yesterday at a Phoenix hospital.
“Right now, I’m feeling all right ... except for the rehabilitation, I’m feeling pretty good,” Schmid said.
It will be a long recovery for Schmid, who is currently doing three hours of rehabilitation a day. Reportedly Sam's doctors say there is a long road to regain full speech, balance and memory.
Dr. Christina Kwasnica, who is overseeing Schmid's recovery process, described his recovery as amazing, but "hesitated to make predictions" of what "normal" might be in the future.
Traumatic brain injury is a life-changing event type of wound, and for those individuals and their families it often takes getting used to "the new normal." While technology has come so far in recent decades, there is much still unknown about the human brain. While it is often desired to hear a time frame when it comes to TBI, healing can be ongoing, even years later something may suddenly change.
“It’s so early in Sam’s injury. We have no idea where the ceiling is,” Kwasnica said.