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Lessons after Traumatic Brain Injury

August 6th, 2010

About four years ago, Texan Dianne Helms drove home after a night of partying and drinking. She crashed her Toyota Tundra into a culvert. Her body was tossed around in the car…her head went through the driver’s side window and smashed onto the pavement.

That’s how her year-long coma began.

That’s how she ended up in a wheelchair, unable to use her left arm or leg, unable to speak or even to pucker her lips enough to kiss her now 10-year-old daughter. Helms had “locked-in syndrome,” a condition in which a person can think, but can’t move or speak–nightmare of fear and frustration. She is now relearning the most basic of physical tasks, like how to eat and swallow, and how to go to the bathroom by herself.

The Houston Chronicle reports that with the help of a computer and a voice synthesizer, Helms is finally able to tell her story. And she doesn’t want anyone to end up in the same position she is in.

Over the past few months, Helms has continued giving her speech to teenagers, to adults – to anyone who will listen. She says warning others is her mission in life now. “Maybe I was saved so I could save others,” she recently typed out on her laptop.  [from The Houston Chronicle]

Helms feels tremendous guilt, for many things. For being a burden to her parents, who take care of her every need…and for not being fully there for her daughter.

Most people know that they shouldn’t drink and drive, but they never think that anything bad will happen to them. It’s the other guy, the one who isn’t “a good driver,” or who “can’t hold his liquor.” But impaired is impaired, and those who are most likely to get in a wreck are often those who think they are most capable.

Everyday, the lawyers of HensonFuerst see the victims of drunk drivers. These people end up in a wreck because they got in the way of an impaired driver–they had no choice in the matter, and they did everything right.

Broken bones can heal…cut skin can close and scar…but an injured brain is permanent. The brain doesn’t give second chances. Here’s hoping everyone hears Helms’ story and makes the smart choice: Don’t Drink and Drive.