Ryan Jones is a 25 year old living in northern B.C. He works in seasonal labour and loves the outdoors, cooking and archery.
He is also a survivor of a traumatic brain injury.
In May 2016, slippery roads in Fort St. John, B.C. caused him to lose control of his car. The resulting crash and force of impact sent him into cardiac arrest.
First responders gave him lifesaving treatment, but throughout that day, his heart stopped for a total of 40 minutes. the force of impact and lack of oxygen from cardiac arrest caused a traumatic brain injury.
Ryan was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) the same day of his accident and arrived in a coma.
Doctors at VGH monitored his brain closely using an experimental device called a brain bolt. They drilled a hole through Ryan's skull and fed two wires directly to the brain tissue, providing the doctors with real-time information on his blood pressure and oxygen levels, and ultimately enabled his brain to heal.
Ryan woke from the coma after six weeks and started a recovery process that included six months at VGH, then three months at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver, and over a year of community rehabilitation. At 22 years old Ryan had to re-learn how to walk and talk.
In British Columbia, 400,000 people are injured each year. About 1,800 die from their injuries, and roughly 9,000 who survive suffer permanent disability and face an ongoing recovery process.
Ryan has made remarkable progress in his recovery, but still has challenges.
“It has been three and half years since the accident and although Ryan had a great outcome, he is still affected by it daily,” said Ryan’s mother, Donna Jones. “Initiation of thoughts and follow through are big ones. He comes up with a lot of ideas of things he knows he should do and wants to do, but the thoughts don’t amount to anything and it’s very frustrating for him.”
Ryan with his parents after hiking up Grouse Mountain
Despite the daily challenges, Ryan leads an active life surrounded by family, and has an uncommon bond with a family pet. “I enjoy running with my parents’ dog as we are the same age based on my ‘first death’,” said Ryan. He also appreciates the value of building awareness of traumatic injuries. He recently joined a panel of physicians at a Provincial Trauma Forum and shared the story of his recovery with attendees.
Ryan speaks to attendees at a recent Trauma Forum
October 17, 2019 is Trauma Survivors Day in B.C., a day to build public awareness of the impacts of traumatic injury and provide education of prevention strategies. It’s also a day to recognize survivors and their families who may be living with the physical and mental impacts of traumatic injury.
Do you know someone who has survived a traumatic injury? You can recognize them on social media with the hashtag #traumasurvivorsday2019.
Trauma Services BC is dedicated to ensuring optimal care for trauma patients in British Columbia. Learn more at the Trauma Services BC website.