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Unconventional Methods Believed To Help Coma Patients Awaken

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Awakening from a coma is often seen as a miracle. But in some specialized programs here in Maryland, miracles seem to happen more often.

Mary Bubala shows how unorthodox therapies in “awakening centers” are bringing people back to life. 

Nathan Krasnopoler, a 20-year-old Johns Hopkins student, was struck while riding his bike in Charles Village. He has been in a coma for four months.

Doctors told his family he may never come out of it.

“He’s showing a few signs of movement, but he’s not doing purposeful movement,” said Mitchell Krasnopoler, Nathan’s dad.

A baseball fan beaten into a coma at a Dodgers game still lies in a hospital. His family is waiting, while his future seems uncertain.

Terri Storms of Howard County heard devastating news about her son, Andrew Parrott. He had slipped into a deep coma after a drug overdose.

The doctors said it did not look good at all.

“It looked bad, really bad, 72 hours and we didn’t expect him to make it,” said Storms.

After many long days, Storms kept a positive outlook.

“We just decided that we would never leave him. No matter what we were going to get out of this coma, we were going to embrace him and bring him home. He was ours,” said Storms.

The weeks passed, then Andrew started moving in a way doctors thought he may have a chance of emerging from the coma.

“Keep fighting, keep fighting because it was tough, it was tough,” said Storms.

Andrew was transferred to the Coma Emergence Program at Levindale, where he was stimulated with sounds, smells, touch and movement. His mom was encouraged to talk to him.

“If he could possibly hear us, we wanted him to know that we loved him,” she said.

After three months Andrew opened his eyes. It was a moment Storms will never forget.

Doctors don’t know for certain what caused Andrew to emerge from his coma, but Levindale’s program uses unconventional methods.

“I know a family member really liked Old Bay. They liked crabs so they waved Old Bay seasoning under their nose to illicit some response,” said Amy Liu, Specialty Hospital at Levindale.

The family of Brian Stow, the baseball fan beaten into a coma outside Dodgers Stadium, says they are also seeing some hope with this type of therapy. They say if people touch him or play music, his mouth will move.

Maybe, just maybe, he could emerge to live a new life.

A year after being in a deep coma, Andrew Parrott is doing well. He is now running three miles a day and he’s convinced it was the intense therapy and hearing his family’s words of encouragement that brought him back.

“Just the fact that she never left me was really amazing. It blows my mind, the love of a mother,” said Parrott.

“Don’t ever give up, never, there is a higher power above us that takes over and, as a mother, I wouldn’t give up,” said Storms.

The family of Johns Hopkins student Nathan Krasnopoler hit while riding his bike is hopeful he will one day be a candidate for a Coma Emergence Program like Levindale’s.

More from Mary Bubala
  • Sharon

    Very tacky showing a pic of the poor guy in a coma. And if that were your family member, would it still be okay? Really poor taste….

    • sheriff

      Sharon, You’re a wuss.

    • nicole

      Sharon, i know andrew and what picture do you think they should have used ? he’s was in a’s not like he can just wake up, shave and smile for a picture then go back in to having the coma it dosn’t work that way im am extremely happy he alright and he is in mine and my fanily’s prayer’s.

    • Repo Idiots Computers!

      Sharon, how very vain of you to only take away what a picture looked like in a desperate time instead of how beautiful that picture became when the outcome was positive. I hope nothing like this happens to you or anyone in your family because God forbid someone try to put a picture to their story!

    • Andrew Parrott

      sharon this story was on me and she had to show a picture that clearly showed how bad off i wa had it been a picture of me smiling and happy everyone would have never known what my family and i went through more importantly my family so if u could keep your negitive comments to yourself

  • kevin henline

    actually im friends with andrew, old work buddys, were just happy to have him with us still and if his story can help others, then i think he is ready to show the world what happened.

    • Misty

      I would like to know if its a certain amount of months or years for someone not to be eligible for the “Coma Emergence Program” I have a family memeber that’s has been in a coma for almost 8 years and just wonder if there was any hope left.

      • Ginny Roth

        yes, Misty—there is hope. We now know that recovery from TBI is life long..there are no boundaries, because the medical professions cannot provide predictive outcomes and people are still improving. In fact, the medical community purposefully tells loved ones and family members “worst case scenario”, just because each coma victim is unique.

        Familiar sights, smells, words, etc. help TBI survivors. When my son was in coma, we played his favorite music; had his friends come in and tell familiar and current stories of their adventures together; we talked with him. I kept telling my son “It’s up to you, Sean…you have to fight to live…I can’t help you, but I will be here for you. Decide what you want…if you want to live, you have to fight.”
        We read to him and talked as often as we were allowed. Physical therapy was very important, as well. Even though the patient is not aware, the brain and the nervous system is. Rebuilding the neuro highways to arms and legs is extremely important. Also, remember, there are many stages to coma. Just because eyes are open and head is moving, does not mean the patient is out of coma..normally they are not.

        Good luck with your family member…it’s NEVER too late to start therapies… Educate yourself on TBI… join a support group (it will help you normalize and realize you and your family are not alone.) Visit facilities that specialize in TBI, ABI and Stroke care and therapies. Take care. Good luck.. Prayers for you and your loved one.

  • Mary

    Sharon, Seriously!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that all you got from this amazingly beautiful story….????

  • Joel

    That is actually my brother and he is happy to share his story and maybe hopefully give other families the strength to hold on and know miracles do happen…my heart breaks for those two families mentioned I know their pain I’ve been through it and if they need words of encouragement feel free to contact me or my mother..
    Stay Strong Pray Always

  • Mary Baldwin-Lathroum

    My cousin was in a car accident at 20 years old and in a coma for 13 years. The medical staff always told us, it could be a smell, a sound, a certain persons touch or voice. It didnt work for him and he passed away 15 years ago due to complications.
    We would have given anything to help revive him!! Thoughts and prayers to these and other familys who are now trying to help their comatose patients!!!

  • sheriff

    He awakened when he was told & saw a copy of his car being repossessed with his G/F in it.

  • Colleen

    Wow some people certainly live in a negative world and really need to focus on what is important in life! As this family did> I am amazed at the perserverance, faith, and prayer this whole family put into the recovery of this young man, It was through the endless hours of time his family, friends and medical professionals gave to him that he survived and their family deserves nothing but postive feedback, to those of you not giving it, you should be ashamed, and I pray that All but for the Grace of God nothing like that ever happens to you!! I applaude their faith and love that enabled him to return to them!! You all will always be in my thoughts and prayers!!!!

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