Brian's Story

The phone call parents fear most came Sunday, December 14, 2008. Our son, Brian Keeter, was unconscious and paralyzed following a car accident in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Upon arriving at the Carolinas Medical Center, we learned that first responders had performed a one and a half hour rescue in below freezing temperatures, struggling to stabilize Brian.  Friends and family spent the next several days fearful he might not survive; wondering whether he would ever regain consciousness or move his limbs again.

Brian suffered an extreme spinal column fracture, two collapsed lungs, lacerations and bruising to his internal organs, and several broken bones, many in his back and ribs. Thankfully, Brian survived though he was paralyzed from the navel down and left learning to process life with a wheelchair.

After being hospitalized for nearly four months, Brian was released and in outpatient care at Carolinas Rehab Hospital.  However, secondary health issues, including a severe pressure wound, halted his rehab progress, leaving him bedridden for seven months. Thankfully, the pressure wound resolved and Brian moved to Mooresville, NC to attend Race To Walk, (RTW) the first exercised-based facility in the southeast designed to maximize the potential of the paralyzed in order to work towards recovering as much function as possible following paralysis.   

Brian continues to receive intensive therapy at RTW four to five days a week and he has seen slow, but steady, improvements.  The goal of RTW therapies is to facilitate function returns in a cascading manner. To date, the RTW therapies have resulted in improved core strength and sitting balance.   Brian also has experienced glut muscles starting to fire, evidence of muscle tone in his thighs, and the return of sensation through the middle of his hips.  He also has been able to take advantage of exciting new therapies at both the Kennedy Kreiger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland & the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Two years have passed since the near fatal car accident & we are very excited by Brian's progress to date.  With only 14 months of therapy, Brian has regained function in his abdominal & glut muscles in addition to a significant portion of his hip flexors--enough so he can even pedal a spin bike!  Most recently, Brian's spinal cord injury was reclassified from "complete" to "incomplete," signifying that nerve signals are now able to move across the injured spinal cord area.  In fact, Brian's therapists have documented motor nerve contractions in his thighs.

The traditional therapy Brian recieved through the rehab hospital was only designed to help an individual adapt to a new life with a wheelchair and does not promote an attempt to truly recover function.  It is because of this mindset when treating patients with spinal cord injury, like Brian, that most recovery activities, such as those provided by RTW, are not covered by insurance.  There are no guarantees that the therapies will result in complete return of function; however, these recovery techniques have been around for over a decade and many people have experienced recoveries that have greatly enhanced their quality of life. 

This blog was started shortly following the accident by Brian's sister as a means to communicate Brian's status with the amazing outpouring of love, support, and concern expressed by so many.  It continues today with periodic updates by both Brian and his family.