When Jason Rooker was rushed from
his home by ambulance last June, no one knew if he'd ever return.
Then months later, the 11-year-old Pulaski County youth and son
of Enterprise publisher Greg Rooker is home again.
"We could tell when he got
here he recognized the place by the look in his eyes. He had a good
first week at home," Fran Rooker stated of her son, who was
severely brain damaged after accidentally hanging himself at the
family's Claytor Lake home.
His injury is known as anoxia, total
deprivation of oxygen to the brain. Anoxia affects the entire brain
unlike specific damage caused by a blow or a stroke. The longer
the brain is deprived, the more profound the injury.
Jason still cannot speak or walk.
He requires routine occupational and physical therapy. Speech therapy
is designed to help elicit a yes or nor response from him.
"The physical therapy keeps
his limbs from getting stiff. Jason likes moving around. We put
him on the trampoline and bounced him gently for awhile. He likes
the trampoline," Mrs. Rooker added.
It took four weeks to renovate the
Rooker house to accommodate Jason. A ramp was added to the deck
and sidewalk was built around the house. Also, the bathroom beside
Jason's room was remodeled with in-room accessibility.
"It was really quiet when Jason
got here on April 4. His sisters were on a band and choir trip to
Disney World and we had to put our two dogs and two cats at the
veterinarian's so the workers could pour the concrete for the new
sidewalk," she commented.
Jason's therapy is a continuation
of that he received during his months at the University of Virginia
Hospital's Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville.
The Rookers are heading for a week's
training at the Philadelphia Institute for the Achievement for Human
Potential which is located in Pennsylvania. They will undergo extensive
training to help them in their work with their son.
"We heard about it from other
parents of children with brain damage throughout the state and across
the country. About the fourth or fifth time the name came up, I
got on the Internet and found out more about it. One of the families
that had used the institute wrote me. We know it will be very intense
training," Mrs. Rooker added.
The Rookers have made arrangements
for Jason to spend the week in the respite care department of the
Carilion Radford Community Hospital. They've also arranged to have
friends visit Jason.
According to Mrs. Rooker, friends
are going to be asked to lend assistance in the months ahead. It
requires three or four people three or four times a day to help
with Jason's exercise regimen.
"So many people have offered
to help us any way they can. This will be a way to see if they really
meant it. We're very appreciative of their offers," she commented.
The Rooker family, including daughters
Jennifer and Stephanie, also is thankful for all the prayers offered
on Jason's behalf.
"I encourage people to continue
to pray - not just for Jason - but for other children and their
families. Prayer is the most powerful medicine we've had. It's gotten
us through the last 10 months and will help us through the ones
ahead," stated Mrs. Rooker, who remains optimistic about her
She added, "I've definitely
seen signs of his improvement. Injuries like his are very, very
slow for recovery."
The overwhelming concern and support
from people continues to amaze the Rookers. There have been thousands
of cards and gifts sent to Jason from across the United States and
some from foreign countries.
"Benjamin Bird, who grew up
in Wytheville, was stationed in Bosnia. He read about Jason in the
Enterprise and he wrote to him. He had some of his friends in this
unit to write, too. He's in Germany now. It's been overwhelming,
the concern people have shown," she said.
Mrs. Rooker noted that she and her
husband decided to be candid with the public about their son's accident.
"We wanted to show this can
happen to anybody. People need to see something like this. I hope
it will awaken people to others and their situations. I hope it
will encourage them to give their support to others," she said.