Survivor or Caregiver
TBI One Love Survivor Michael Coss
Michael Coss is the author of The Courage to Come Back: Triumph over TBI - A Story of Hope (2011) and the inspiration behind the creation of the Michael Coss Brain Injury Foundation. The foundation was created to raise money for children in need of financial support to access brain injury treatment and the proceeds from the sale of Michael’s book go directly to help the kids. The book is a moving account of Michael’s journey facing the challenges of traumatic brain injury.
Michael is also the winner of the 2011 Courage to Come Back Award for Physical Rehabilitation (Coastal Health). Michael will tell you that his life was changed forever, and it’s been changed for the good. First though, he will usually tell you that he is the very proud father of twins, Nathan and Danielle who are now six years old.
On May 18th, 2006 Michael was driving to Kelowna with his former spouse and seven-month-old twins to attend a work function and stay with friends. Catastrophe struck while on the Coquilhalla highway — Michael lost control of the van and it rolled at least one and a half times.
Miraculously, his former wife Ann and daughter Danielle escaped only with minor injuries, but Nathan and Michael were not as fortunate. Nathan spent several weeks at BC Children's Hospital with head injuries. When the medical services arrived at the scene of the accident, Michael was unresponsive, with evidence that the airbags had deployed and he was restrained by his seatbelt. Glasgow coma scale (CGS) rating at the scene was 8 out of a possible 15, which indicated a comatose state.
He was transported by air to Royal Inlands Hospital in Kamloops where he was assessed by Neurosurgery. He had bilateral ventricular shunts inserted. Later, he was transferred to Royal Columbian Hospital to be closer to his family where he remained comatose.
Michael’s injuries were nearly fatal and despite comprehensive treatment at two hospitals, he remained in a coma for six and a half months. Doctors told his family that his chances of recovery were remote. His wife Ann was devastated, facing the challenge of raising their two babies without a father. Recommendations were made to his family to look for a long-term care facility to look after him for the rest of his life. But they did not know Michael Coss and his family. Michael’s family had researched hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), the medical use of oxygen at a level higher than atmospheric pressure.
The treatments are commonly used in Asia and Europe and are available in Canada, where they are not approved by Health Canada and therefore not covered by medical insurance. The more the family learned, the more they came to believe that these treatments might work for Michael, though they were prohibitively expensive and came with no guarantee.His friends and co-workers saw a chance to mobilize and make a difference in Michael's life. Within a few weeks, funds were raised from donations from friends, family, and his former work colleagues at Molson Coors Canada.
Five days a week via ambulance, his mother accompanied him from Royal Columbian Hospital to the Richmond Hyperbaric Health Centre. Staying by his side, she would dampen a sponge with water to make him swallow and equalize the pressure within his ears. It worked, and on Christmas Eve of 2006, after three treatments and half a year in a coma, Michael awoke and uttered his first words!
Only three months out of his coma, he learned about Rick Hansen's Wheels in Motion events to raise funds for research and to improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. Michael was inspired by Rick Hansen and wanted to be a part of the event. In the midst of his rehabilitation he canvassed his network and once again they rallied in support. Friends, family members, Molson Coors co-workers, and other corporations raised over $22,000.
His team (Team Cosco) not only won the award for the top fundraiser in Canada for Wheels in Motion 2007, they also set a fundraising record for the entire six year history of the program. Through a long, intensive, and grueling rehabilitation he re-learned how to talk, eat, and is now re-learning how to walk.
Today, Michael serves as an inspiration, motivational speaker, and catalyst for Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors everywhere. He currently resides in a group home not too far from his family and visits with them several times a week. His long term goal is to be an able and active participant in his family's life.
He is not yet ready to walk hand in hand to the park with his children but at least he is in training for it! We are extremely proud to be a part of this inspirational Family!
Thank you TBI One Love for all you do!