The walls of Dayton Copeland’s room in the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Omaha, Neb., are covered with cards and well wishes from home.
“He’s really started to come around in the last couple days,” said Nathan Copeland, Dayton’s father.
On Dec. 12, 16-year-old Dayton, Ness City, was involved in an automobile accident at the intersection of 140 Road and S5 road, 1.6 miles northeast of the Kansas Highway 96 and U.S. Highway 283 junction in Ness County.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol report, he struck another vehicle that failed to yield at an intersection.
Following the accident, Dayton was transported to Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, where he was in the Intensive Care Unit.
“It was pretty much that very first night,” Nathan said of when they suspected there was a brain injury in addition to broken bones. “Just from the external trauma that we could see.”
During Dayton’s eight-day stay at Wesley Medical Center, the doctors really couldn’t give Nathan or Angela Copeland an idea about how or when their son would recover from the traumatic brain injury.
“They said it’s all just person to person, and that everyone recovers at a different pace,” Nathan said.
They received the same advice from those at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital-Omaha Campus, where Dayton has been since Dec. 21.
Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals offer medical rehabilitation and research while specializing in brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, pulmonary conditions, stroke and neurological conditions.
Nathan said his son does physical therapy twice a day, occupational therapy, recreational therapy where they play different games, such as card games, to stimulate the brain, as well as speech therapy.
According to Nathan, the speech is something Dayton still is struggling with, as well as the short-term memory.
“The memory’s a little foggy,” Nathan said.
However, on Dec. 30 is when Dayton really started to put things together.
“And in the last couple days, he’s started to put a lot together,” Nathan said. “He’s asking a lot of stuff about home.”
Dayton has started to ask about Christmas and New Year’s Eve, for which he was awake, but has no memory of.
“He’s been asking about the basketball team back home,” Nathan said.
Lora Ullerich, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital media spokesperson, said after Dayton’s progress last week, and after she saw and heard about the support he had from his hometown, she thought it would be good to give family and friends an update on Dayton’s progress.
“It seems he has really turned a corner, although he still has some rehabilitation ahead,” Ullerich said.
In the hours and days following Copeland’s accident, the Ness City community has rallied around the teen.
Dayton, who works part-time at the Ness City Recreation Commission, has received get-well cards from younger children he has worked with in that role in the community as well as from fellow students and local families and friends who continue to keep the Copeland family in their thoughts and prayers.
Nathan said it’s been overwhelming to see all the support they’ve gotten from home.
“The community has really reached out to us,” Nathan said.
Nathan and Angela take turns staying at the rehabilitation hospital with Dayton while the other returns to work and takes care of the rest of the family.
While Dayton still has more recovery and rehabilitation ahead of him, his recent progress is encouraging.
“Nothing is set in stone, but they’ve given us a possible release date of March 17,” Nathan said. “Then he will continue therapy when we get home.”