• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Blake Martin

Hello, my name is Annie Martin.

My almost 13-year-old son is a severe brain injury survivor.  On November 7, 2015, my then 11 1/2-year-old son, Blake, went to the lake for the weekend with a friend and his family. The lake is about 3 hours away from our home in Olathe, Kansas. Late that afternoon I received a phone call from his friend’s mom, and I knew immediately by her voice that something was wrong. That's when I was told that there had been a boating accident and Blake was injured. They were flying him by helicopter, from the small lake hospital, to a larger one that could handle his injuries. I immediately called my parents who came and picked me up to make the 2 1/2-hour drive to get to Blake. 

When we arrived we were taken to the Neurosurgical ICU? After a brief meeting with the doctor, I was allowed a few minutes to see him before they took him to for the first if many scans. There are no words to describe what I saw. His entire face was swollen and bruised, he had 5 or 6 large gashes on his face and head, he was in a coma, on a ventilator, with tubes and wires running out of his body in all directions. The underneath of his eyes looked like they had been colored with charcoal.  I began sobbing as the doctor led me out to the waiting room, promising to come back and get me as soon as he was settled into a room. 

The scan showed the Blake had suffered a large right frontal lobe hemorrhage, DAI throughout his entire brain, a fractured in his left temporal bone, and a significant stroke in his right basal ganglia. They implanted a monitor to so we could watch the pressure in his brain, and then we just waited.

After 5 days, he began to wake up and they could take him off the ventilator. By day 7 or 8 his eyes were open, but he wasn't really awake. The first time that they sat him up in the bed he couldn't hold his own head up, and that's when I began to grasp how bad it really was. 

After 12 days, we could be transferred by ambulance to a children's hospital in Kansas City, much closer to our home. Blake and I lived in Children's Mercy Hospital for 7 weeks. He began to rehab, learning to walk, talk, eat, etc. all over again. We were discharged at the end of the 7 weeks and began outpatient rehab, 5 days a week, 6 hours a day. We did this for 19 weeks. 

Once we finished the outpatient rehab, I was lost as to what to do next. He still had so many problems and we hadn't even begun thinking about school and how he could return. Since the school year was almost over, I decided to use the summer to get him to the best place he could be before he returned the next fall for 7th grade. So, I called Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is about 3 hours away from where we live.

After an evaluation, it was decided that I would drive up every Monday morning, he would receive OT, PT, and SLP and one-on-one tutoring in the afternoon.  Then we would stay overnight in a hotel and go back and repeat it on Tuesday morning. We did this for 8 weeks. It was the best decision I've made so far. Madonna is specialized and only treats brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, and has an amazing pediatric program. 

Blake began school in the fall. As of now, he attends school until 12:45 daily, and can receive 12 hours of therapy per week through a company that specializes in TBI recovery. 

He's making incredible progress and has come so far. He is doing well in school, but has his work modified and is on an IEP. He is walking, but wears a brace on his left leg, and has weakness in his left arm and hand as well. Cognitively, he has issues one would expect with the amount of frontal lobe damage he suffered. He struggles with attention, processes slower, gets easily frustrated, and has accommodations through his IEP. Blake has some permanent vision loss, and his hearing is sensitive in his left ear. He also deals daily with nerve pain and numbness throughout his body.  But, he rarely complains. I have no idea when all of this will be "over", but I am convinced that he will eventually be able to achieve the goals he had set for himself before this accident, and he will have a happy, fulfilling life. 

I've learned so much from him about resilience and determination. He inspires everyone he comes into contact with, and he is the strongest, bravest person I know!

Thank you for starting TBI OneLove and letting us join this very helpful Family! 


Annie Martin

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