About two weeks ago, Posit Science was visited by a family who appeared to have greatly benefited from the use of our Brain Fitness Program. This family’s story began with a late-night boating accident involving a beloved young son, circa 20 years of age. The boat that Ryan was riding in was struck by a second speeding boat. He was thrown overboard in the accident, and his skull crushed between the two boats. Direct injury to his brain, and further damage from subsequent bleeding and from the shards of bone embedded within the flesh of the brain was extensive. In this live-or-die situation, significant sections of his damage frontal lobes were necessarily further compromised by the surgery that was required to remove multiple bone fragments from his brain.
Ryan was stiff and spastic. There was no indication that he heard or understood what was said to him. He was incapable of any voluntary response. He could not talk. His parents were told that he would never recover, that that he would have to be maintained in a hospital or nursing home environment or the rest of his life.
His parents rather quickly began to understand that rehabilitation therapy in the hospital setting that he was in (typical, for the US) was simply not going to help him very much, in large part because the professionals there saw no value for, and held out no real hope for his recovery. Ryan wasn’t the only Reitmeyer with grit and determination; his father and mother simply did not accept this situation. Doug Reitmeyer threw all of his energies into trying to understand his son’s neurological situation, and quickly came to understand that his medical team (as is typical, in the US) just didn’t have much understanding what rehabilitation strategies COULD succeed (if success was possible) for a patient like his son. Ryan’s father and mother spent every waking hour with their son, embarking on their own personal rehab program. Ryan’s father Doug scoured the literature and for new approaches that might help his son.
In the meantime, Ryan slowly regained his speech understanding and speech production, but had a very poor memory, limited cognitive abilities, and provided mom and dad with lots of evidence of disordered thought. His father had discovered Posit Science in an Internet search, and he contacted us, asking if I thought that our programs could be applied to his son. I told him that if he agreed to have the son evaluated before and after training, we would provide the program to his son, and believed that it would help him.
Ryan made dramatic improvements through the course of his Posit Science Brain Fitness Training program. I wish you could have talked with Ryan when he visited us late in September. Ryan looks a little unusual because a significant part of his frontal cortex has been lost, his skull has been through elaborate reconstruction to replace lost bone with metal and to repair hundreds of little fractures, and his hair patterns bear the scars of repeated surgeries. At the same time, Ryan now has a GOOD memory. He is clever, funny, a delight in conversation, and cognitively, completely in control. Ryan loves his mom and dad (as well he should!), and his social abilities are outstanding. Ryan takes care of himself. He has passed a driver’s license exam, and drives around on his own. He can remember the words and melodies of a hundred songs. In a phrase, Ryan is back with us! His situation was NOT hopeless. RYAN IS DOING JUST FINE.
There is little question that the Brain Fitness Program made a large contribution to Ryan Reitmeier’s rehabilitation (the therapist who was caring for him has ordered a bundle of these programs for other patients like Ryan). At the same time, it sure doesn’t hurt to have parents like his, and it was a very lucky thing that they ultimately led him to more informed doctors and to more effective therapeutic approaches!
One of OUR main goasl at Posit Science is to progressively improve our ability to help individuals like this very special young man.