Oldham County teenager overcoming the odds with new treatment after freak accident
Tristan can now stand, is more talkative and can wheel himself around in his own wheelchair after suffering from a sever brain injury in 2016.
LA GRANGE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Tristan Ballinger’s recovery can be considered nothing short of remarkable after new treatment in a new city.
Tristan can now stand, is more talkative and can wheel himself around in his own wheelchair. He’s come a long way since he was in a freak accident that put him in a coma after he was struck in the head with a sword in 2016. Doctors didn’t think he would walk, talk or even live.
Tristan’s new physical therapy started mid-October at Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago. His parents Mike and Nicole Ballinger made the decision to purse new options after they heard this from local doctors.
“Prior to Chicago, (they said) Tristan had reached his maximum potential,” Mike Ballinger said.
But then, everything changed.
“It was intense training that Tristan was accustomed to through wrestling and the first thing they had him do was try to stand up and sit down out of his chair 20 times,” Mike Ballinger said.
Cell phone video shows Tristan singing to “All I do is Win” while working out in an exoskeleton suit on a treadmill to improve his muscle memory.
“We focused on walking quite a bit and his balance,” said Tristan’s dad, Mike Ballinger. “Tristan had to relearn step by step how to do things such as put his shirt on.”
Tristan spent six weeks at Shirley Ryan having therapy every day. Before the accident, he wrestled and played baseball for Oldham County High School, so the goal is to get him active again. He worked on strength training and on everyday skills to become more independent.
“He got to make sandwiches. He got to cook. He really liked that,” Mike Ballinger said.
“I like to make grilled cheeses,” Tristan added.
Despite all the forward progress, Tristan is still battling post-traumatic amnesia. He also has painful muscle cramps as his nervous system is still rebooting. But that doesn't keep him or his spirits down when it comes reaching that next goal, sometimes with additional help from friends along the way.
“The doctors in Chicago were very excited to work with him because the injury was very different than what they normally see,” Nicole Ballinger said.
Throughout 2018, Tristan will have 90 more days of therapy in Chicago. The family’s insurance only covers the first 30 days. If you'd like to help Tristan with his therapy, you donate to his GoFundMe page by clicking here.
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