by Paula Yocom
It wasn’t until recently that doctors realized some patients who appear completely unresponsive are actually capable of thought. A neuroscientist with a passion for unlocking the mysteries of consciousness used high tech brain scans to make this discovery. His research is advancing the knowledge of how to create communication interfaces with people who seem to be incapable of any interaction.
He is doing for TBI patients what doctors in years past regarded as being useless, hopeless – impossible.
Challenging the status quo requires courage, commitment and the ability to think outside of the box. Many different things motivate people to question preconceived notions about what is possible. All of us on Team Diviney recognize Ken’s resourcefulness and determination. We know he’s super smart, driven and fixed on obtaining some kind of justice for Ryan. But what is it that drives Ken to challenge conventional wisdom and push through all the barriers put before him? In the time since Ryan was so horribly hurt, Ken has entered into the proverbial “uncharted territory.” He’s become an innovator, philosopher, therapist, inventor, doctor and scientist. He has given his life completely over to not only taking care of his son, but to dreaming what some say is an impossible dream.
The dream began as a nightmare, when doctors at Ruby Memorial asked the Divineys whether they wanted Ryan to be resuscitated if his condition should start to deteriorate. “Absolutely” was their reply. Thus began Ken’s walk through the gauntlet of obstacles that would hinder his ability to help his son recover. As they were preparing to leave the Shepherd Center, Ken and Sue didn’t receive a helpful package containing information about how to obtain a therapy table and a hospital bed, or what kinds of nutritional supplements should be used or where to go for additional help. There was no advisor to provide guidance or direction for them. Little to no information was offered about other kinds of rehabilitation programs, clinical trials, or avenues to pursue for help. Like many others in the same desperate situation, the Divineys were left to figure out what to do next. The doctors offered little help and no hope. This is because the medical community at large still regards patients with severe disorders of consciousness as being beyond repair.
The troubling irony is that if the medical community isn’t willing to figure out how to keep people suffering from TBI healthy, then how can advancements in treatment happen? In the span of three and a half years, through much trial and effort, Ken has figured out effective ways to reduce UTI’s in Ryan, as well as significantly decrease respiratory problems. He has created an exercise program to strengthen Ryan’s bones and muscles, and figured out how to minimize rashes, pressure sores and eye infections. Rather than accepting one doctor’s opinion early on that it wasn’t worth doing physical therapy, Ken decided to tailor a program to address Ryan’s particular issues. He has modified equipment to fit Ryan’s needs. He has studied the intricacies of nutrition to devise the best diet for Ryan. He has vigorously sought out new treatments for his son.
In doing all of this, Ken has given Ryan a chance at recovery that he otherwise would not have had. Giving up on his son was never an option. Neither the constant fatigue nor body aches nor sorrowful moments will interfere with his pursuit of progress for Ryan. Ken’s hope is that someday soon the clinical trials currently in progress will yield effective new treatments for TBI. In the meantime, he will continue to ensure that Ryan’s strong body stays that way. He will also keep working on innovative new designs that will improve various kinds of therapy equipment. In the same situation, you, too might endeavor to push the envelope anyway you could to achieve your goal. You would find the courage and strength to keep going. In trying to save the life of someone you love, you might do what Ken and Ryan have been doing for a long time now…
You will defy the word, “impossible.”