nicolas-steward-picNicholas Seward, 7. is crazy about Legos, loves video games and takes karate. The second grader is so skilled at karate. in fact, that he’s preparing to test for his yellow belt.

“I talked with his therapists since he’s still doing physical therapy on an outpatient basis. He’s almost finished,” said his mother, Jennifer Griffis. “It helps with his balance skills.”

Such conversations are vivid evidence of just how far Nicholas has come in a mere threemonths following an accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury. His mother credits his swift recovery to the EMTs who arrived within five minutes, the staff at Shands Trauma Unit and the doctors. nurses and other medical personnel at Wolfson Children’s Hospital who administered his care and rehabilitation.

Ms. Griffis is also a firm believer in the power of prayer. She says that after the accident, one of the first things she did was post on Facebook to ask people to pray. Counting the congregation at their church. Evangel Temple, and connections to others throughout the state, the country, and across the globe. she estimates thousands of people were praying in those first critical days.

She recalls that time with a relative calm. She and Nicholas were waiting for her mother to pick them up for a late lunch followed by a shopping excursion. As they waited. Ms. Griffis walked a few steps to put out the trash cans, instructing Nicholas to stay on the sidewalk. Nicholas became excited and ran into the street. What he didn’t see was the sedan that turned onto the road and struck him on his left side, throwing him about 20 feet before he landed on his head.

Still breathing but unconscious when the ambulance arrived. Nicholas was taken to Shands Trauma Unit, which called in pediatric neurologist Dr. Nathan Ranalli. The decision was made to transport him that night to Wolfson, where he would spend the next 10 days in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Pediatric surgeon Dr. Nicholas Poulos informed the family that the diagnosis was a subdural hematoma and diffuse axonal injury, the latter known as one of the most common and devastating types of traumatic brain injuries. When axons or parts of the nerve cells are disrupted and shaken, a tearing occurs that can result in unconsciousness or a vegetative state. Auto and sports-related accidents. falls and Shaken Baby Syndrome are among the leading causes.

Nicholas spent the first week at the hospital sedated and on a ventilator. Once extubated. Nicholas moved from the ICU to a sixth-floor room at Wolfson, where he was seen daily by physical therapists. Within the week, he moved from a wheelchair to holding hands and walking. Dr. Alexandra Beier, his pediatric neurosurgeon. followed-up on his care every day. Ms. Griffis recounted the Sunday morning when a neurology physician’s assistant stopped by Nicholas’s room to remove the monitor put in place initially to gauge whether there was any pressure on the
brain from a bleed.

“The fact that she was on her way to church but came by to take care of him first told us the concern people had for him.”