John Prigg was one of the top high school wrestlers in Texaswhen he suffered a severe head injury. "John fell down underneath the other opponent, hit the side of his head and then back of his head on the wood floor outside the mat. It was an accident. It was devastating,” John’s father said. Immediately, John, his family and the medical staff caring for him knew his memory had been affected. “It was just a heart-sinking feeling when your son doesn't even know he's a wrestler in a wrestling meet, in his wrestling uniform. That's pretty devastating,” John’s father said.
His mother noticed something else, too. "People who did not know my son, they did not know that he was very outgoing—the first one with a practical joke, the first one with a hug, a pat on a back, a little wrestling move. After his accident, he just seemed like a very quiet, shy, withdrawn teenager, and that was not my son.”
John underwent extensive therapy to relearn basic activities such as eating and showering. He struggled completing and coherently communicating his thoughts, but he was determined to improve his thinking abilities, to move past his injury and on with his life. John was referred to the Center for BrainHealth to participate in traumatic brain injury research that included a unique brain-training program developed by Center for BrainHealth researchers called Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART).
After twelve sessions of intensive training, John was able to better convey his thoughts and communicate his ideas. As John said, “I feel like I can problem solve and organize my thoughts to achieve a goal.” John’s scores after training demonstrated his success. His strategic thinking and organizational skills improved by 50%.
"When I first met John, he was a concrete thinker and had difficulty thinking creatively and flexibly to problem solve," said Dr. Asha Vas, a BrainHealth researcher who worked with John and trained him in SMART strategies. "Towards the end of the training program, I saw John's stubborn will turn into strategic strength as he put the trained strategies to diligent use to do more at work and at school. He is now co-owner of a company and received his EMT/paramedic certification."
"John has told me that he went from feeling out of control of his life to being hopeful about the changes he was making for his own future," said Molly Keebler, a BrainHealth clinician that also worked with John.