NA-F2000: Bezerra Update 98-06-17

BEZERRA CONTINUES REMARKABLE RECOVERY Physical Therapist Says He is "Beating The Odds" FAIRFIELD, N.J. (June 18, 1998) -- Four and a half months after suffering a diffuse brain injury in an accident at the Walt Disney World Speedway,...

BEZERRA CONTINUES REMARKABLE RECOVERY Physical Therapist Says He is "Beating The Odds"

FAIRFIELD, N.J. (June 18, 1998) -- Four and a half months after suffering a diffuse brain injury in an accident at the Walt Disney World Speedway, Brazilian Thiago Bezerra has repeatedly beaten the odds and continues his remarkable recovery through intense rehabilitation at his family's home in Miami.

Bezerra, 20, suffered a severe diffuse brain injury when his Tatuus Ford hit the wall on lap 40 of the 50-lap U.S. F2000 opener, January 24. After spending the next 40 days in a coma at the Orlando Regional Medical Center (Orlando, Fla.) and the Jackson Memorial Hospital (Miami, Fla.) the rookie polesitter entered an extensive rehabilitation at Jackson Memorial's Ryder Trauma Center, March 30.

"In the recovery of head injuries, Ranchos Los Amigos (RLA) has recognized different stages of recovery (ranging from I to VIII)," said Anna Katerina Tischenko, Physical Therapist at the Neurology Rehabilitation Center. "Thiago at this point was in stage III - IV with cognitive disorder characterized by localized responses, inconsistency of following commands, agitation and short attention span."

After eight weeks of intense therapy, Bezerra had improved to a an RLA Level VII, with improved problem solving, judgement, language and processing speed. He was able to walk in the parallel bars with both feet flat on the ground, walk on a treadmill for 12 minutes, ride a stationary bike for 10 minutes and use the upper-extremity bike for 12 minutes. Bezerra is able to stand without assistance for three to four minutes and with his eyes closed for two minutes. He was able to move his right arm in all directions with movements evident of a good prognosis in the therapists eyes.

Bezerra now continues his therapy everyday as an outpatient, and was able to travel to the May 19 U.S. F2000 race at the Homestead Motorsports Complex with his family, girlfriend and Tischenko. June 11, Bezerra walked (with the walker) from the car to therapy, leaving his wheelchair in the car.

"The opportunity to work with Thiago for me is a gift," said Tischenko. "He and his family will always be a part of my personal and professional life. He has beaten the odds."

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