One way I explain Ryan’s injury that seems to people who just meet him is “all the hardware is working, it’s the software (brain) that isn’t”. This quick sentence seems to get to the heart of the challenges he faces and, so far, everyone quickly understands exactly what I mean.
It was difficult for us just after the beating (by Jonathan May and Austin Vantrease) to not see ANY reactions. We would tickle his feet and he would do nothing. Then, a few months later, he began to “spray” his toes when stimulated. This progressed to “curling” his toes. After many, many months (at least a year) he would curl his toes and twitch the legs.
Withdrawal from a noxious stimulus is a (relatively) big deal. Not ideal, but pretty damned good just the same. Optimally, we would like to see him both withdrawal AND reach toward the area being tormented.
To say I am diligent about checking his responses and reactions is an understatement. For me, it’s almost an obsession. Most times it is met with disappointment. Yet, now and then he shows something new or different. It keeps me going, like a gambler who wins the payoff just enough to make it addictive.
Last night after I put him to bed around 9:00 PM I noticed his legs were active. He was moving and twitching. I began to tickle his feet. This is what happened:
This is very exciting for us to see. He clearly was not happy about it.
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