Update: Long, Difficult Recoveries

Rehabilitation Takes Years

Once out of the emergency room, many patients still face a long recovery from their injuries. And in the two years since they had accidents, Adam Dalton and Brooke Steiner have struggled to recover from their injuries. Both have had to endure long, sometimes frustrating rehabilitations. Dan Rather reports on what has happened to the two patients since they were first hurt.

After Brooke was released from the hospital, she was far from out of the woods. Since being run over by a tractor in 1998, she had two surgeries to repair her fractured pelvis. Four plates and 21 pins were set in her bones.

Today she is back on the farm, taking care of her cow, which recently won a prize. But she still has pain from her accident. "When the weather is rainy sometimes I can feel it, because of the rain and everything," she says. "My body aches some times, but, 'Oh well.'"

But she's well enough finally to try out for the volleyball team this fall after two seasons on the sidelines. She had played the sport since fourth grade and misses it.

"I've done pretty (well) since my accident," she says. "I've learned a lot from it. And I enjoy things a lot more now."

Adam Dalton, severely burned in a fire, also faced some intensive therapy when he came home.

"Most people think once you come home from the hospital that it's over," says Kym Dalton, Adam's mother. "But that's when it all starts because you don't have the nurses there anymore. You don't have the doctors."

Six hours a day, every day, Adam's mother, Kym Dalton, massaged his skin grafts. The regimen began at 4 a.m. so that Adam could have time to get ready for school. That took longer because he had to wear special protective gear.

Two years after the accident, the therapy has paid off.

"I'm fine," says Adam, now 14. "All my joints work. My arms [raise] all the way up."

His scars have also been largely erased. But until Adam is fully grown, he faces more surgery.

This situation can be frustrating. "Just when you think everything's normal,...something else has to be done and it all starts all over again," says his mother.

Adam dreams of how he'll feel when he won't have to worry about surgeries or rehabilitation.

"Free from all of this," he says. "Have to not worry about wearing my neck brace or going to the hospital, having surgery and all that - just be a kid again, which I am."

For now, he says, he feels most free when he runs cross-country.

His mother, though, thinks that her son is stronger for the experience: "When you go through something like that, every day you take advantage of what you have, not knowing that one day you might not have it," she says.

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