In downtown Lansing, Michigan, 1981, a drunk driver in a pickup truck ran a red light going approximately 50 miles per hour and crashed into the passenger door of Mark Condon’s car. The stick shift punctured his lung, he stopped breathing, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), and would have died on site had not medical professionals been immediately available. In the hospital Mark was not expected to live because of complications. When his condition improved, the unprepared doctors, who thought he would certainly die, told his family what seemed inevitable: “Mark’s brain injury is so severe, he will be institutionalized for life.”
Thankfully, after being released from the hospital Mark has not been in a single institution. Trying his best to improve, he has participated in many forms of rehabilitation. One of the consequences of his brain injury is left hemiparesis – a partial paralysis on the left side of his body that causes left foot drop, left knee hyperextension, and left finger/hand/arm incoordination. With this condition Mark first had to learn to walk between parallel bars, then to walk without assistance. Mark has to think about every aspect of walking with each step. He also had to try and relearn everything his left hand did pre-injury, automatically – for instance tie shoe laces, shampoo his hair, handle everyday items like flat wear, and 15 years later – typing on the computer.