Home' Southern Health News : August 2014 Contents and stretched out of place, changing normal
pathways through the brain.
Wendy, who helps Michael recount the day of the
accident and his subsequent rehabilitation due to
memory loss, said “normal, everyday activities are
now so much harder for Michael”.
“Instead of the pathway in the brain being A-B,
it’s more like A-F-B -E-C,” she said.
“He also damaged areas of his brain, which
particularly affects movement in his left arm.”
On 25 September 2012, after almost three
months in hospital, and some initial rehabilitation
with staff from FMC and the Repatriation
General Hospital, Michael was transferred to the
Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit at Hampstead
Rehabilitation Centre where he stayed as an
inpatient for almost nine months.
His rehabilitation included physiotherapy to
help him sit up, stand and eventually walk;
speech pathology to teach him to talk and write,
and occupational therapy to help him regain
independence with tasks such as feeding and
“I’ll always remember 13 November 2012 – it was
the first day Michael spoke after the accident. It
was just a whisper at first, but it was a huge day
in his recovery,” Wendy said.
“On Christmas Eve he took his first steps with the
support of three staff.”
After his discharge from Hampstead last year,
Michael started ongoing therapy which includes
gym work, speech pathology, occupational
therapy and recreational activities to help him
integrate back into the community.
He has progressed from needing carers at home
to being independent. He uses public transport
to go to gym, he attends a running club and
has been cleared to attend work and begin light
Next month Michael hopes to walk 6km in the
City to Bay Fun Run – improving on the 1km he
was able to do last year – and will give a speech
at his daughter’s wedding in October, following
ongoing speech therapy.
“Life will never be the same but we now know
that we can have a good quality of life with
our family – just with some different goals and
dreams,” Wendy said.
“No one can ever be prepared for a trauma such
as this. The people that you come into contact
with leave lasting impressions. It is a hard and
often lonely journey.
“It’s important to listen to advice but never
give up or be governed by timeframes and
expectations. No one really knows the limits of
the brain’s ability to heal and recover.”
He was rushed by ambulance to Flinders Medical
Centre’s (FMC) Emergency Department with
kidney trauma, a broken left arm and serious
The Parrys have shared their story in line with
Brain Injury Awareness Week, which is held in
August each year, to raise awareness of the
impact of brain injury and the often long road to
recovery for patients.
“That day I was doing the 30km Hills to Henley
River Run in training for the Berlin Marathon later
that year,” said Michael’s wife Wendy.
“At 19km into my run I just stopped – I couldn’t
run anymore, I felt sick and something felt wrong.
It was very unlike me because I was very fit and
never stopped during a run. It was 10.30am.
Michael Parry with his wife Wendy
at Flinders Medical Centre.
“I got a lift in a car to the finish line and picked
up my bag to find my phone ringing. It was
Michael’s friend and he said Michael had been in
an accident and was being taken to hospital.
“At this stage I didn’t know how bad it was.”
When Michael arrived at FMC he was rushed
into theatres – so surgeons could operate on his
kidney – before being transferred to the Intensive
and Critical Care Unit where he stayed for 15
days. For eight of those, he was unconscious.
The significance of Michael’s brain injury was not
fully understood until he had an MRI, a week
after the accident.
The scan showed he had Diffuse Axonal Injury
(where his head hit the ground) – a severe type of
brain trauma where the nerves are twisted, pulled
The long road to recovery
from brain injury
BY SARAH KOLAR
At 10.30am on Sunday 29 July 2012, Michael and Wendy Parry’s lives changed
forever. Michael, 56, was riding his bike with a friend in Hallett Cove, when he came
off and fell onto the road.
SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS / AUGUST 2014 / 11
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