Family's struggle with TBI helps dozens of others

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 6:42 PM

AUBURN, Wash. -- After a tragic accident left a young man needing long-term care, his family discovered the closest suitable place was out of state.

So they decided to open up a home for him. And now their efforts are improving the lives of dozens of people with traumatic brain injury.

Terry Norman is still very much like the teenager he was 30 years ago. He enjoys hanging out in his room, typing on the keyboard and listening to his music.

"His mind is good,” said his mother Mary Norman. “He still has a wonderful sense of humor. That keeps us all kind of going.”

At the age of 18, a car accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI.

"He was in a coma for three months,” Mary Norman remembered. "Not a fun time.”

Terry initially moved to a geriatric nursing home, and right away his mother could see it wasn't a good fit for her 18-year-old son.

"Something more geared to the younger population,” said Mary, “where they could play their own music, have more in common.”

She came up with the idea of opening a boarding house in Pacific for young adults recovering from TBI. It's called Terry Home, and it became a family affair.

"I became involved, I guess, because I had a little bit of experience fundraising, organizing meetings and that type of thing,” said Myla Montgomery, Terry’s aunt. Montgomery is president of the board.

Terry's older brother, Tim Norman, volunteers maintaining the home. His sister-in-law, Joanne Norman, is the administrator.

"We know that the need is so great,” said Montgomery. “And if we didn't do it, who would?”

Their goal is to provide young adults with a home-like atmosphere, help them recover and rehabilitate, and keep them involved in the community.

"A place where they can live and be as active as possible,” said Montgomery. “Where they can even if they're going to be here for the rest of their lives, they can still have hope.”

According to the Washington State Department of Health, about 120,000 in the state suffer from TBI-related disabilities. So every time someone moves out of the 10-bed boarding home, someone is waiting to move in.

"We do have a waiting list for 30 people,” said Montgomery. “We know that the need is there.”

So through hard work and fundraising, they built another brand new 12-bed facility in Auburn. In three years, the Terry Home board and its supporters raised $1.8 million for the new location. The open house is April 17th.

Four of the rooms will be reserved for veterans coming home needing long-term care.

“Our soldiers are returning from combat, so much more with traumatic brain injury,” said Montgomery. “I think it’s up to 20-percent coming back with TBIs.”

About one third of the patients at Terry Home move on to more independent living.  Some of the funding for the non-profit comes from DSHS. The rest comes from grants and fundraising.

 
 

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