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Scott Doane

scottdoane&family“I never looked at myself as I was a victim or felt sorry for myself. …The amount that I have grown from all my experiences is priceless,”

It was 1967 and Scott Doane was just seven years old, riding with his father and sister in their station wagon when their vehicle got broadsided by an 18-wheeler whose brakes gave out.

“My sister saw the whole thing,” Scott explains. A bystander, who turned out to be a marine and EMT, ran over to help. Scott’s sister was screaming “Where’s Scott?” which made those helping at the accident scene look for him. They saw tufts of Scott’s hair behind the front seat where he was pinned.

“The marine saw that I was unresponsive and choking on my tongue. He began to give me mouth to mouth and saved my life,” he says.

Scott, his sister and father were taken to the local hospital. His sister received 20 stitches and his father had a collapsed lung and broken ribs.

Scott needed more care so he was taken to Columbus Children’s Hospital in Ohio where doctors discovered he had a significant frontal lobe brain injury and his right side was paralyzed. To keep the brain swelling down, doctors gave him penicillin and put icepacks all around him. Scott was in a coma for three weeks and was not expected to survive. Despite the doctors’ beliefs, he did.

After three months, he was finally released from the hospital. He was paralyzed on his right side and spent six months in a wheelchair. Scott was given no formal rehabilitation for his brain injury other than regular checkups and working with his parents at home. Their family moved out of Ohio and after that, there was no follow up on his brain injury, leaving Scott with many questions.

Just three years ago, Scott found himself still desperate for answers about the accident and his brain injury, so he asked his father to give him his medical records so he could find out more. He went to get a baseline MRI, started seeing doctors and getting tests done to find out more about the extent of his injury.

“It explained my life,” he says. Doctors sent him to cognitive therapy and rehabilitation to try to strengthen his right leg muscles, but Scott didn’t find either to be helpful after having to live with those issues for most of his life.

Today, Scott’s still coming to terms with his brain injury after spending almost a lifetime without talking about it. “I’m learning about my brain injury after living with it for over half my life,” says Scott. “I’m trying to pick up the pieces.”

Still looking for answers, Scott met Suzanne Doswell, manager of the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts Western Office. Suzanne helped Scott get involved with the organization and find other survivors who understand what he’s going through.

“I kept going to the office and started going to support group meetings,” says Scott. “It’s helped me so much and a lot with education and advocacy.” He recently started the Northern Brain Injury Support Group in North Adams, Mass. as well.

Scott says he’s started to recognize his limitations. “Working a full day can be draining,” he explains. “I get so fatigued and overwhelmed.” He also noticed he has a “terrible short-term memory” and moderate hearing loss.

Although he’s pieced parts of the story together, Scott still has more questions - questions he hopes will be answered as he writes a book about his experience. With input from family members, Scott is able to write his story and piece together his experience. “Every day I’m learning more,” he says.

Scott believes having a brain injury has not only changed his life, but his path as well. He attributes his strong sense of empathy and career in case work to his brain injury. “It’s actually made me feel more sensitive to other people” after years of always sitting on the sidelines and being bullied as a child. “I grew from it,” he says.

Despite the challenges, “I never looked at myself as I was a victim or felt sorry for myself. …The amount that I have grown from all my experiences is priceless,” Scott says.


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