HOUSTON, Aug. 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Ravon Ortiz and Wardell Starling are the latest patients to emerge from vegetative states in Nexus Health Systems' program, The Phoenix Project.
Konswella Felps explained that her son Ravon proved the odds wrong by surviving a brain injury, stroke and surgery after a serious motorcycle accident. She went on to say he proved the odds wrong again by waking up from a vegetative state at Nexus Specialty Hospital.
"[Ravon] arrived on a Saturday and Dr. Cassidy began treatment on Sunday, therapy on Monday and he had a speaking valve put in on Tuesday," she explained. "By the fourth day, I heard Ravon's voice and it blew me away. He emerged so quickly."
Since the program formed in early 2018, Nexus Health Systems' founder and chief medical officer Dr. John W. Cassidy and his clinical science team have helped patients experience improved wakefulness after being in a coma or vegetative state for anywhere from weeks to years. Dr. Cassidy explained the program was developed to meet the needs of an underserved population.
"Our program gives families another option besides life support and death," he said. "Many of our patients are given minimal chances to live, let alone further heal and wake up."
Similarly to Ravon's story, Wardell Starling also emerged from a vegetative state at Nexus Specialty Hospital. Anita Starling explained an infection exacerbated her husband's rare, neurological disease, causing him to need surgery. Although a post-surgery EEG showed he had brain activity, Wardell struggled to outwardly respond.
"Between everyone at Nexus working hand-in-hand and Dr. Cassidy's 'wakeup medicine', my husband is doing much better, although he still has a way to go," she said. "I can now call his name just one time and he will open his eyes and look at me. My family believes he is more like his old self than ever. Finding Nexus Specialty Hospital has been a blessing from God."
Pediatric and adult brain injury patients admit to The Phoenix Project in a coma or persistent vegetative state following a catastrophic event, including motor vehicle accident, gunshot wound, industrial accident, drug overdose or near drowning. Once patients are admitted and evaluated, the team deploys individualized neuropharmacological treatment plans to draw patients out of unconsciousness and accelerate cognitive, functional and behavioral capabilities.
"As patients emerge, my team and their families note the many milestones they reach," Dr. Cassidy explained. "These could include waking up for the first time, saying their name, signaling thumbs up, tracking an object or person and following commands."
As patients become more alert, physical, occupational and speech therapists begin rehabilitation to help patients redevelop skills and strength that they need to be successful on a day-to-day basis.
"Therapy started slowly with improving Ravon's range of motion to loosen up muscles and joints, and then as time went on, they showed him how to sit on his own and transfer from the bed to chair," Felps said. "By the time he discharged, he was speaking, starting to recall memories, sitting up, eating solid foods and beginning to feed himself."
Throughout the program, patients are assessed to determine the next steps in the process. Oftentimes, patients are good candidates to continue participation in Nexus Health Systems' neurocontinuum at the community based Neurorecovery Center and other times they transfer to different post-acute rehabilitation centers or directly home for outpatient rehabilitation.
Both Ravon and Wardell are completing rehabilitation focused on strength, balance and cognition. Ravon is now home, continuing to prove the odds wrong, working towards his independence and determining what he's interested in now to start a career. Wardell is still an inpatient at Nexus Specialty Hospital receiving tailored rehabilitation on a daily basis.
"The moment I walked into Nexus Specialty Hospital, I knew Wardell's journey would be different," Starling said. "Everyone was happy, and everything was presented in a positive way. When you're in this situation, you need everything to be positive, not doom and gloom. It's a totally different world at Nexus, and it's a testament to our faith in God and the many prayers that we finally found a place that truly cares and provides excellent patient care."
Dr. Cassidy explained The Phoenix Project is more than helping patients experience improved wakefulness.
"It's important for our team to utilize our abilities to not just emerge patients but return them to lives of productivity and meaning," Dr. Cassidy explained. "This is core to our mission of mending minds."
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SOURCE Nexus Health Systems