More than ten badges are sewn onto Darryl Fisher’s baseball cap – the one he wears every day. He motions to each badge and lists them off.
“Military Police, Veteran, My Weapon, a gun, the USA flag, Baghdad, Iraq, Combat Veteran, Combat Action.”
Medals and awards are showcased in his bedroom, including a Commendation Medal which reads “1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery” and an “Exceptional Service in the Public Interest” award from the FBI in 2003.
“I’m a solider. I’m proud,” he says.
After returning from war, Darryl was in an accident where he sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well as a knee injury. In the days immediately following his accident, Darryl was in a coma and on a respirator.
When he emerged from his coma after many weeks, it was clear Darryl would require a support-intensive rehabilitation program that would treat the cognitive deficits resulting from his brain injury.
Then, two years ago, Darryl and his family found NeuroRestorative Rhode Island’s program in Bradford. As an eligible Veteran who experienced a TBI, Darryl’s services are funded by the Veterans Health Administration Assisted Living Pilot program, which covers the cost of specialized private rehabilitation programs like NeuroRestorative. The Pilot program is the first time the VA has contracted with civilian providers who specialize in community-based, post-acute brain injury rehabilitation.
When Darryl arrived at NeuroRestorative, he had slowed motor skills, decreased coordination and short-term memory loss. He was also in a wheelchair. Today, Darryl continues to use a wheelchair, but is also able to use a walker. He has gained a sense of awareness about his physical and mental needs, and has shown improvement through both physical and occupational therapy.
At NeuroRestorative Rhode Island’s program in Bradford, Darryl and his fellow participants receive rehabilitation therapy based on their individualized needs. They live and interact with each other through various activities, including visits to the YMCA, computer usage, bowling, bingo and Veteran meetings. Participants also work to maximize independence in everyday tasks, such as laundry, showering, grocery shopping and meal preparation.
When asked how challenging life would be without NeuroRestorative, 52-year-old Darryl shakes his head.
“I can’t even think about it.”
Despite the challenges, Darryl has a relentless spirit and a can-do approach to rehabilitation with the support of the NeuroRestorative staff.
“People here try to help me all the time. They’re good helpers,” he says and smiles.