Southwest Virginia Enterprise, April 16, 1997 Page A1 & A2


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 son's recovery.

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.


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