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Thread: Body broken, but not spirit

  1. #1

    Body broken, but not spirit

    Body broken, but not spirit

    By Lona O'Connor, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, November 16, 2002


    HOLLYWOOD -- It was a playoff game, but for one player it was homecoming, the biggest and best one of his life.

    Matt Cousineau shooed his mother away so he could roll his own wheelchair out onto the bumpy turf of the football field. His Boca Raton High School teammates yelped with delight as they caught sight of him, cheerleaders launched into an impromptu cheer and Cousineau, 18, was swept away in a sea of crayon-yellow jerseys.

    "I'll go in, I'll go in!" he joked from the sideline. Two grueling months of recuperation were forgotten. He was back with his boys, chewing tobacco, swearing like a truck driver and grinning nonstop, jubilant.

    It was Cousineau's first time back on a football field since a Sept. 8 water accident broke his neck and left him partially paralyzed.

    "I missed cheerleaders the most," he told one teammate. He forced another one to stuff a chaw of tobacco in his cheek, since his own hands were not cooperating.

    He has limited use of his hands and has learned to move his body weight with the strength of his arms. His long-term prognosis is unclear, since the healing process usually takes a year.

    Doctors and physical therapists praised his tenacity in quickly mastering the wheelchair and dozens of other daily tasks with only partial use of his hands. His youth and athletic ability are his best friends in the ongoing process of recovery, therapists said.

    After nearly two months of slogging through rehabilitation therapy at Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami, Cousineau was discharged Friday afternoon. His prescription from Jackson neurologist Barth Green: "Get back with your friends."

    And so, barely an hour after arriving home in Delray Beach, Cousineau, along with his parents, Tom and Lori, piled back into the car and headed south to Hollywood, where the Boca Bobcats were in a playoff game against McArthur High School.

    At halftime of the game Boca eventually lost 27-22, his teammates stuck a helmet on his head and paraded him the length of the field. A hero's reward, though Cousineau, a senior defensive end, had played only two games before the accident.

    On a Sunday afternoon outing with friends, Cousineau accidentally plunged headfirst from a rope swing into a shallow canal just south of Lake Ida in Delray Beach. Shocked at the news, Bobcats rallied round Cousineau, with super-sized get-well cards, a signed jersey (his number 33), autographed footballs, candy and stuffed animals that filled his room at Jackson.

    The Bobcats dedicated their season to Cousineau. On every helmet was a small "MC" sticker. It was high time for Cousineau to bathe in glory. Rehab is hard physical work. It will be his job now, for the rest of his life, to keep his body strong and his attitude upbeat.

    His father, Tom, has had to put aside his job as an assistant coach at Boca High to coach his son, keep him up for the game of life. His mother, Lori, a teacher and reading specialist, now reads endlessly, educating herself about spinal cord injuries and searching for the latest breakthrough therapies that might help her son regain mobility and feeling in his trunk and legs.

    "There's no question we have serious work ahead," Lori Cousineau said. "It's the real world when you're back home."

    With help from friends, the Cousineaus have added wheelchair-access ramps to their 1952 ranch house, which faces Lake Ida. Just out of sight of the splendid lake view is the canal where Matt Cousineau jumped off the rope swing.

    A workman is redoing a bathroom for wheelchair access. Other friends are planning a fund-raiser on Thursday to defray expenses. Tom Cousineau sold a beloved classic Cadillac for the money and to make room for home fitness equipment that Matt will need to use.

    Money is one of the cold slaps in the face that follows a serious spinal cord injury. A typical cost of the first year after a quadriplegic injury is $500,000, according to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. About 45 percent of that is usually paid by insurance. Some of the expenses can be paid for by a state trust fund that assists people with spinal cord injuries. Other costs may be covered by Social Security benefits, but Lori Cousineau is quickly mastering the art of negotiating and cajoling her way through red tape for every aspect of her son's care, from catheters to a lightweight wheelchair.

    People with quadriplegic injuries are susceptible to osteoporosis, muscle atrophy, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, weight gain and respiratory problems.

    At Jackson, Cousineau had roommates and therapy buddies with similar injuries. They helped him and he started helping the new kids on the rehab floor.

    "He has a new set of peers, people who have been through it," said Lori Cousineau.

    Another aspect of the real world will be finishing his senior year of high school, with the aid of a visiting teacher. "We tried to get him started in the hospital, but it's not easy. It's all about his body right now," said Lori Cousineau.

    A fund-raiser for Matt Cousineau is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Boston's on the Beach restaurant in Delray Beach. A $25 donation is requested. For information, call Deborah Dowd at (561) 276-3991.

    Contributions can also be sent to the Matt Cousineau Recovery Fund, c/o Law Offices of Stuart Morris, 7000 W. Palmetto Park Road, Suite 310, Boca Raton, Fla., 33433.
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  2. #2
    Author Topic: テつ* Body broken, but not spirit
    Max

    Member posted Nov 17, 2002 12:18 PM テつ*
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Body broken, but not spirit


    By Lona O'Connor, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, November 16, 2002



    HOLLYWOOD -- It was a playoff game, but for one player it was homecoming, the biggest and best one of his life.

    Matt Cousineau shooed his mother away so he could roll his own wheelchair out onto the bumpy turf of the football field. His Boca Raton High School teammates yelped with delight as they caught sight of him, cheerleaders launched into an impromptu cheer and Cousineau, 18, was swept away in a sea of crayon-yellow jerseys.

    "I'll go in, I'll go in!" he joked from the sideline. Two grueling months of recuperation were forgotten. He was back with his boys, chewing tobacco, swearing like a truck driver and grinning nonstop, jubilant.

    It was Cousineau's first time back on a football field since a Sept. 8 water accident broke his neck and left him partially paralyzed.

    "I missed cheerleaders the most," he told one teammate. He forced another one to stuff a chaw of tobacco in his cheek, since his own hands were not cooperating.

    He has limited use of his hands and has learned to move his body weight with the strength of his arms. His long-term prognosis is unclear, since the healing process usually takes a year.

    Doctors and physical therapists praised his tenacity in quickly mastering the wheelchair and dozens of other daily tasks with only partial use of his hands. His youth and athletic ability are his best friends in the ongoing process of recovery, therapists said.

    After nearly two months of slogging through rehabilitation therapy at Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami, Cousineau was discharged Friday afternoon. His prescription from Jackson neurologist Barth Green: "Get back with your friends."

    And so, barely an hour after arriving home in Delray Beach, Cousineau, along with his parents, Tom and Lori, piled back into the car and headed south to Hollywood, where the Boca Bobcats were in a playoff game against McArthur High School.

    At halftime of the game Boca eventually lost 27-22, his teammates stuck a helmet on his head and paraded him the length of the field. A hero's reward, though Cousineau, a senior defensive end, had played only two games before the accident.

    On a Sunday afternoon outing with friends, Cousineau accidentally plunged headfirst from a rope swing into a shallow canal just south of Lake Ida in Delray Beach. Shocked at the news, Bobcats rallied round Cousineau, with super-sized get-well cards, a signed jersey (his number 33), autographed footballs, candy and stuffed animals that filled his room at Jackson.

    The Bobcats dedicated their season to Cousineau. On every helmet was a small "MC" sticker. It was high time for Cousineau to bathe in glory. Rehab is hard physical work. It will be his job now, for the rest of his life, to keep his body strong and his attitude upbeat.

    His father, Tom, has had to put aside his job as an assistant coach at Boca High to coach his son, keep him up for the game of life. His mother, Lori, a teacher and reading specialist, now reads endlessly, educating herself about spinal cord injuries and searching for the latest breakthrough therapies that might help her son regain mobility and feeling in his trunk and legs.

    "There's no question we have serious work ahead," Lori Cousineau said. "It's the real world when you're back home."

    With help from friends, the Cousineaus have added wheelchair-access ramps to their 1952 ranch house, which faces Lake Ida. Just out of sight of the splendid lake view is the canal where Matt Cousineau jumped off the rope swing.

    A workman is redoing a bathroom for wheelchair access. Other friends are planning a fund-raiser on Thursday to defray expenses. Tom Cousineau sold a beloved classic Cadillac for the money and to make room for home fitness equipment that Matt will need to use.

    Money is one of the cold slaps in the face that follows a serious spinal cord injury. A typical cost of the first year after a quadriplegic injury is $500,000, according to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. About 45 percent of that is usually paid by insurance. Some of the expenses can be paid for by a state trust fund that assists people with spinal cord injuries. Other costs may be covered by Social Security benefits, but Lori Cousineau is quickly mastering the art of negotiating and cajoling her way through red tape for every aspect of her son's care, from catheters to a lightweight wheelchair.

    People with quadriplegic injuries are susceptible to osteoporosis, muscle atrophy, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, weight gain and respiratory problems.

    At Jackson, Cousineau had roommates and therapy buddies with similar injuries. They helped him and he started helping the new kids on the rehab floor.

    "He has a new set of peers, people who have been through it," said Lori Cousineau.

    Another aspect of the real world will be finishing his senior year of high school, with the aid of a visiting teacher. "We tried to get him started in the hospital, but it's not easy. It's all about his body right now," said Lori Cousineau.

    A fund-raiser for Matt Cousineau is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Boston's on the Beach restaurant in Delray Beach. A $25 donation is requested. For information, call Deborah Dowd at (561) 276-3991.

    Contributions can also be sent to the Matt Cousineau Recovery Fund, c/o Law Offices of Stuart Morris, 7000 W. Palmetto Park Road, Suite 310, Boca Raton, Fla., 33433.


    lona_oconnor@pbpost.com
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Posts: 3390テつ*|テつ*From: Montreal,Province of Quebec, CANADAテつ*|テつ*Registered: Jul 25, 2001

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