Trauma Survivors Network Peer Visitors
Traumatic Brain Injury‐Mother Perspective
Pam Bryan: On Halloween of 1995, Pam’s son John was 13 years old when he was
Traumatic Brain Injury‐Mom Perspective a carpool coming home from school. Police
involved in a motor vehicle crash while in
officers’ greeted Pam at her door with the devastating news. John was transported via
LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Trauma and received rehabilitative treatment at Stallworth.
John suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and abdominal injuries. Pam
serves as the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Tennessee. John is
involved in the Special Olympics, Metro Parks Disability program and loves to play
Shawn Coltharp: On Labor Day weekend of 2007, Shawn’s daughter Hillary was 26
years old when she was involved in a motor vehicle crash while in route to meeting
her family for dinner in Paducah, KY. Hillary was texting while driving and wasn’t
wearing her seatbelt. Her car crossed the interstate median, flipped and ejected her
75ft from her car. Hillary transported via LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Trauma; she
suffered a traumatic brain injury. Shawn is a Corporate Director at the American
Cancer Society and a Peer mentor for the TSN. Hillary is doing well with her therapies
and appreciates being able to watch her little boy grow up.
Paula Denslow: October 2, 1996, Paula’s son Troy was 14 when he was assaulted by
a fellow student. He had been hit in the head several times, was knocked
unconscious and displayed seizure activity. Troy was taken via ambulance to
Vanderbilt Trauma and suffered severe headache and contusions. Although Troy’s
injury rendered him to be home schooled, he graduated with is high school class and
went on to college. ~ In early August of 2002, Paula’s second son, Andy was 17 when
he was involved in a motor vehicle crash. It was a rainy day and his car hydroplaned.
Andy suffered significant short term memory loss from hitting his head. After years
of rehabilitation, Andy is leading a productive life.
Rita Hardeman: August 14, 2005, Rita’s son Jarrod was involved in a motor vehicle
crash and thrown out of the back of a pickup truck. His friend sitting in the back with
him, did not survive. Rita received a call from her son’s friend that Jarrod was in an
accident and transported via LifeFlight to Vanderbilt. Jarrod spent three weeks in the
trauma unit and another 10 days inpatient at Stallworth. He suffered a right frontal
lobe injury, numerous fractures to the bones in his face, a broken arm, fractured
pelvis, surgery on surgery on the crushed bones in his right hand and nerve damage
in his right eye. Jarrod is doing well and loves the outdoors and enjoys playing pool.
Traumatic Brain Injury‐Spouse Perspective
Denise Garland: On Memorial weekend of 2006, Denise and her husband Bob were
on a long distance bicycle ride. Bob crashed on his bicycle leaving him unconscious
and was Lifeflighted to Vanderbilt Trauma. Bob suffered 3 hematomas resulting in a
traumatic brain injury. He spent 5 days in the Trauma Unit and 28 days at Stallworth
Rehabilitation Hospital. Denise is a Peer Mentor with the Brain Injury Association of
Tennessee as well as the TSN. Bob is doing well and is still involved with performance
Traumatic Brain Injury‐Patient Perspective
Ray De Vries On a rainy September 20, 2008 morning, Ray was involved in a motor
vehicle crash. His car hydroplaned around a curve into a telephone pole with the
impact on the driver’s side of the car. Ray suffered a traumatic brain injury, his heart
was displaced out of the pericardial sac and shifted to the right side of his chest. He
suffered a multitude of fractures and broken bones and severe damage to his right
eye. He was in the Vanderbilt Trauma ICU for two weeks and in a coma for five. Ray
received further treatment at Select Specialty Hospital, Stallworth Rehabilitation
Hospital and Pi Beta Phi. Ray is an ordained Minister and still preaches at a small
Zach Phillips: On March 19, 2006, in the early morning hours, Zach was hit by a car in
Washington DC while crossing M St. with a friend. He suffered a traumatic brain
injury and was taken to George Washington Hospital and stayed in the ICU for three
weeks. Zach was then flown to The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA where he would
awaken after 5 weeks in a coma. Zach also received treatment at Pi Beta Phi. Zach is
sports oriented and hopes to sign up for a marathon soon.
Natalie and Susie Rodriguez: On January 18, 2004 Natalie was 15 years old when
she and her friends piled into a car late one evening for a spur of the moment drive
in their pajamas. The driver lost control on the dark Rutledge Road (a half a mile
from her house) and ran into a tree head on. Natalie was seated behind the driver’s
seat when she was thrown forward and smashed against the windshield. Sustaining
the most injuries, Natalie was taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt. Natalie’s mother
Susie, recalls Dr. Morris as the treating physician who explained the life threatening
injuries of: traumatic brain injury with swelling, internal bleeding, crushed femur,
broken ribs, fractured chin and jaw. Natalie deteriorated and went into cardiac
arrest on day 5 in the Trauma ICU. Susie recalls “the talk” about organ donation and
withdrawing care but refused since Natalie’s CT revealed blood flowing to the brain.
Natalie remained in this state for 20 days and on day 26 Natalie opened one eye. A
week later she went to Shepherd. Natalie currently works part time, writing and
being with friends and family.
Traumatic Amputation‐Patient Perspective
Gretyl Baird: On September 1, 2004, Gretyl was playing in her college soccer game
for Western Baptist College when she suffered a severe injury to her left knee. The
goalie fell on her knee breaking the bone, partially severing the main artery. Initially,
doctors at Oregon Health Sciences University succeeded saving her life and her leg.
After 9 months of strenuous and unsuccessful physical therapy, Gretyl’s final surgery
led to an infection. Gretyl was given the choice to lose her leg or lose her life. Gretyl
says her decision was easily made; she had a loving family that supported her during
her trauma. Gretyl enjoys mentoring and wants to give back as a Peer with the TSN.
Wayne Fielder: April 20th, 2008, Wayne and his wife Donna were riding their 2005
Harley Davidson “Fatboy” south on Hwy 231 in Lebanon when a car cut in front of
them. They hit the bumper and side wheel of the other vehicle and both were
thrown several feet upon impact. While both Wayne and his wife were seriously
injured, Wayne was losing consciousness and sustained a severe de-gloving to his left
foot. Wayne transported via Lifeflight to Vanderbilt. He suffered extensive nerve
damage and had below the knee amputation. Wayne is doing well and still enjoys
Jason Koger: On March 1, 2008, Jason was riding his ATV with his friends on the
backseat at his family farm in Owensboro, KY. Jason ran into a sagging power line.
7200 volts went through his body and not his friends sharing the backseat.
Completely alert, Jason was Lifeflighted two hours away Vanderbilt Trauma burn
unit. They had to amputate both of his arms due to the toxins it was releasing in his
body. Jason was in the Burn unit for 12 days and then went home. Jason is doing well
and is involved in shooting his guns and, hunting with bow and arrow.
Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury-Patient Perspective
Elizabeth Alley: On June 20, 2001, Elizabeth was injured in a motor vehicle crash;
her friend was driving under the influence. She and her friends were driving back
from the honky‐tonk clubs downtown. Elizabeth suffered a broken neck at C3 and
C4 of her spinal cord. She was taken via ambulance to Vanderbilt Trauma and spent
a week in the ICU, 5 days in Vanderbilt step-down and rehabilitated at Sheppard for
2 months with outpatient at Stallworth. Elizabeth is currently in school studying
Psychology, she enjoys public speaking on issues of drunk driving and was crowned
Miss Wheelchair TN in 2004.
JP and Kelly Barmer: On June 08, 2006, Kelly’s husband, John Philip, was involved in a
near fatal motorcycle crash. After sustaining a T-4 complete spinal cord injury,
Traumatic Brain Injury, multiple broken bones, and collapsed lungs, he spent one
month at the Vanderbilt Trauma ICU and two months at Shepherd Center for
inpatient rehabilitation. Once he returned home, John Philip participated in
outpatient therapy for nearly a year at both Vanderbilt Stallworth and Tennessee
Rehabilitation Center. A mere two years after his accident, John Philip was back in
college to finish his degree, living independently, and enjoying a very active lifestyle
consisting of water and snow skiing, playing golf, softball, basketball and sled hockey,
shooting sporting clays, and lifting weights. In May 2010, John Paul and Kelly tied the
knot. JP began Peer visiting for the TSN in 2010 and Kelly in 2011.
Jim Harris: On June 16, 2005, Jim was seriously injured in a plane crash while piloting
a plane with a flight instructor in Grand Junction, Colorado. Jim’s plane was met with
turbulence as he approached the airport landing. Jim’s plane hit wind shear and lost
flight control at 200 feet above ground. Jim was pinned in the wreckage and suffered
a spinal cord injury of a T-12 burst. Jim was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital and had later
surgeries at Vanderbilt Hospital. He received rehabilitation at TRC and Stallworth. Jim
still enjoys flying and flew a Cessna 172 one year after his injury.
Traumatic Multiple Fracture and Sole Survivor-Patient Perspective
Brittany Leedham: On the night of November 29th 2008, Brittany, a Father Ryan
Senior and her boyfriend Zak, left his house around 11:30 pm to take her home. They
pulled out of Zak’s subdivision and onto Holt Road at 70 MPH. With less than mile
away, Zak decided to pass the car in front of him on a double yellow line. They pulled
up, revved up, and passed the car in front of them. The roads were slick and his tires
were bald and Zak lost control of the car. The car spun around, went off the road, hit
a ditch, flipped, went up 9 feet, and then wrapped around a tree at over 70 mph.
Brittany broke both tibia and fibula in both legs, both femurs, her left leg was
compound and de-gloved. Her right leg was a crush injury. She broke her pelvic bone
in 2 places, 3 of the 5 fingers in her right hand, and her C2 vertebrate (Hangman’s
Fracture) was completely broken. Zak broke his left arm, his right shoulder was
dislocated, broke his right leg, ankle, a ruptured spleen and massive head trauma.
Zak passed away four hours later on the Trauma Unit. In total, Brittany spent 2 weeks
in Vanderbilt Trauma, 4 weeks in Vanderbilt Trauma step-down, 4 weeks at
Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and 4 weeks at Vanderbilt Stallworth. Brittany’s injury
and recovery received much attention from the local news media and a clip of that
footage is featured in the TSN’s Journey to Recovery video. Brittany is currently a
student at MTSU majoring in Recreational Therapy/Outdoor Recreation with a minor
in Nutrition. She is a member of Alpha Chi Omega and is active in the Catholic Center
on campus and loves the outdoors.
Archived news of Renee’s Crash
Traumatic Multiple Fracture and Grief-Patient Perspective
Renee Sanders: On November 17, 2002 Renee offered to drive her four college friends
to meet other college friends downtown. Driving out of the parking lot was the last
thing she remembers. A police officer in pursuit of another vehicle ran a red light and
hit her car driving 70 MPH. Her roommate, the front seat passenger, was killed on
impact. Renee and the other girls were injured and taken to Erlanger Hospital. Renee
suffered bruises, a pelvis fractured in several places and grief from the death of her
beloved friend. Following her stay in the hospital, she returned home to Franklin, TN
undergoing extensive physical therapy to learn how to walk again. Her new life of
wheel chairs, walkers and shower chairs was a far reach from the independent college
freshman life she left at UT Chattanooga. Determined, she returned back to UTC that
January. Renee received much attention from the collision, including a letter of
encouragement from First Lady Laura Bush. Renee is now married, has an MBA, a
career in the IT industry, enjoys travelling, walking her dog, cooking, swimming, and
spending time with family and friends.
Archived news of Renee’s Crash