In 2009, at the age of 46, Richard suffered a left temporal hemorrhage which required brain surgery to relieve a left temporal hematoma. This event left him with expressive aphasia which meant his speech, problem solving, and vision were all impaired at moderate to severe levels. Post-surgery, Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) recommended to his caregiver that he be enrolled at Grace Center to receive post-rehabilitation day services. The very next day, Richard’s caregiver visited Grace Center and enrolled him into the program. Having spent most of his adult life in Florida, Richard walked into Grace Center on his first day with a friendly smile and warm southern manners. Richard was actually born in Paris, France, on US Military Base and ended up following the tradition of his family by serving in the US Army. After completing his service to our country, Richard began long-haul truck driving and diesel mechanic work which he did up until his traumatic brain injury (TBI).
When he first arrived at Grace Center, Richard struggled greatly with being able to form sentences or with finding any words at all. His communications were full of stuttering and he would often repeat the same word over and over again. Richard required a lot of cuing as he would easily forget directions or be unable to complete them. In addition, his peripheral vision was significantly impaired in his right eye. At this time, Richard was seeing a speech therapist weekly. He was given communication homework to help increase his language skills. Grace Center collaborated with the speech therapist by working with Richard on these assignments, such as sequencing, sentence production, word finding and following directions. By November of that same year, Richard’s flow of speech had significantly improved as evident by his ability to read sentences out loud more smoothly and his increased ability to word find. He was also able to stay on topic with less cuing. In addition to his improved speech, Richard was also making leaps and bounds in his ability to engage with everyday tasks.
A hard working and generous man, Richard looked for every opportunity to help out the Grace Center staff with any little projects we could give him. Looking back at this time, Richard recently said, “The small jobs that the Grace Center staff would give me helped me click back into what I was accustom to doing in my life prior to my TBI.” These tasks would be things like making wheelchair repairs, painting, refinished wood furniture, and many other handyman-like tasks. On top of speech and occupational therapy, Grace Center provided Richard with the opportunity for physical rehabilitation. Doctors believe the hemorrhage in Richard’s brain was due to his high blood pressure which he has had a diagnosis of since his 30s. The Grace Center RN compiled a care plan for Richard which included daily use of the Nu-Step and Biodex exercise equipment for up to one hour at a time. This structured exercise program resulted in Richard being able to go off of four of the five blood pressure medications he had been prescribed at the time of his enrollment.
Richard’s marked improvement led to his ability to disenroll as a participant and continue his time at Grace Center now as a volunteer. Today, you’ll find Richard driving himself from Salem about once a week to spend the day spending time with Grace Center participants and doing specials projects around the building. Richard’s TBI brought many challenges to his life and it took great perseverance to overcome his new found disability. He has been and continues to be an inspiration to many through his journey to recovery. “Grace Center prevented me from taking a negative direction in life. I’ve come back as a volunteer because I feel grateful to Grace Center for helping me reform my independence.”