Back in 2011, Bradley Reimer of Lakin was in a coma for nearly a year. He suddenly woke up and began a miraculous recovery that even doctors can’t explain.
Now at age 18, Bradley is celebrating some major milestones with other kids his age like graduation from high school.
“I simply find it amazing that he’s come through this far,” said Angela Reimer, Bradley’s aunt.
Just walking across the stage to get his diploma, though largely symbolic, once seemed impossible. A car crash killed Bradley’s mother and left him catatonic.
“It was like you knew something was going on inside, but he didn’t show any expression,” said Camilla Dadula of Bethany Children’s Center.
Day after day at the pediatric hospital in Oklahoma, Bradley sat and stared, not moving or making a sound, until almost a year later.
“He just started saying the colors of things, labeling things, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute! This isn’t just a random firing in his brain. This is something real!'” said Dadulo.
What’s more, Bradley knew the names of the hospital staff, even though he’d been unresponsive the entire time.
“He may have been receiving a lot more than we could see because he couldn’t demonstrate what he was understanding to us,” said Dr. Ed Wright, Physiatrist.
His doctor speculates that Bradley’s injured brain finally healed enough to re-wire itself, allowing him to act on the information he was taking in. Many patients in a coma that long never recover.
While Bradley could say words and even sing familiar songs, he had to learn how to swallow, to walk again, and to use his arms.
“When he first came, he came in a wheelchair,” said Angela Reimer, Bradley’s aunt.
Bradley’s aunt remembers his homecoming well. In a matter of months after coming out of the coma and moving in with her family, she says he made big progress.
“He went from being on a feeding tube to eating normally. In fact, his first meal was a pizza,” said Angela.
Bradley also started using a walker and made up for lost time in school, learning how to write his own name again and do simple math, taking it all in so fast, his teachers believe he never really lost it.
“Some of the concepts we work on, he has in his long-term memory, and when we start working on them, it brings it out,” said Sarah Scott, special education teacher.
Now, at age 18, Bradley loves reading and art. With a little help, he made a collage.
“One that was in the fair, we took it to State Fair, and he got first place,” said Angela.
Bradley also has no trouble now walking and dressing himself, but his most exciting accomplishment is what some teens may take for granted, going to prom!
“It was just amazing that he wanted to go, and he had such a good time,” said Angela Reimer.
Dressed in a new suit, with his para-educator by his side, Bradley stayed at prom until the very last song.
“When he came back, he said, ‘Aunt Ang, I danced the night away!’ And he wouldn’t stop saying that because he was so happy he had the chance to go. And he danced with three girls!”
It’s a milestone for a boy whose future once seemed bleak and now holds promise.
The Reimers are looking into a group home for Bradley in Garden City where he can still get the help he needs, but also have friends and possibly a job. They consider how far he’s come a true miracle.
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