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Jeff's Journey - April 7, 2013

Jeff's Journey

By: Jeni Durfey, CTRS

Recreation Therapist at On With Life


Jeff grew up in Persia, Iowa, with his parents and sister, Robin, on a farm raising pigs and cattle. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Marine Corp and served our country for four years. At one point in his service he was a Field Radio Operator in Okinawa, Japan. He says his time there was "not bad, but I missed home."


September 19, 2006, was the day that changed Jeff's life, and that of his family. Jeff's mother, Betty, writes that Jeff went "from a vibrant young man to someone with a TBI," after he was injured in a  motor vehicle accident.


Jeff spent three months in intensive care before he was transferred to another hospital for three months to begin his therapy journey. He spent several months at On With Life at Ankeny for intense post-acute therapy before moving to On With Life at Glenwood. At first, Jeff was not able to use his voice, so communicating was very difficult. Since then, Jeff has learned to speak and carry on conversations. Being able to vocalize preferences has improved his independence in several ways: he is able to participate in more cognitive-based leisure groups, he can voice opinions during Resident Council meetings, he can make choices for community outings and make other decision throughout his day. In addition, his muscular strength has been slowly coming back on his left side, thanks to the therapy he is receiving. Our therapy staff members report that Jeff "has a positive attitude and is always receptive to all therapeutic interventions." Utilizing the hydrotherapy unit, his mom says, is "wonderful therapy for all people with traumatic brain injuries. As long as we can all see improvement we are happy."


Jeff enjoys his twice weekly visits with his parents, and those with his daughter, Melissa, and his sister, Robin. Beyond spending time with his visitors, Jeff's passion lies with Harley Davidson motorcycles. He enjoys poker and Iowa football, and like a true Iowa native, Jeff says his favorite food is sweet corn. He keeps busy through physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy, spends time in the sensory gym, outside when the weather permits and in the swimming pool. Jeff enjoys going on community outings, especially to the Harley Davidson shop, pet therapy visits and special events such as volunteer groups, sensory parties and holiday parties. He enjoys meeting the many visitors who come through On With Life at Glenwood, and especially likes to be introduced to the children who visit.


Though Jeff's life is quite different than it was prior to 2006, some things remain constant. Jeff has a loving and supportive family. He has the opportunity to make decisions about his life including the therapy he receives, the places he goes, the clothes he wears and how he spends his free time. The staff at OWL encourage him to continue to improve upon essential skills to function more independently. Most importantly, Jeff is safe and loved. His parents know that if and when the time comes for Jeff to move on, the staff at On With Life will do everything they can to prepare Jeff for his next step of his journey.