Help Ryan Brown's Recovery.

For: Ryan Brown
Alexandria, VA
Organizer: Ryan Brown Family
Help Ryan Brown's Recovery. (Ryan Brown)
of $50,000 goal
38% Complete
Raised by 177 donors

The Story

On May 5, 2016, Ryan Brown, an Alexandria father of two, was riding his bike home from work when he was hit by a car that ran a red light. Ryan was thrown 50 feet, resulting in a traumatic brain injury, a broken leg, shoulder and three vertebrae. He spent almost 4 weeks emerging from a coma at GW University Hospital in Washington, D.C. until he was transferred to National Rehabilitation Hospital at the beginning of June, where he stayed for 3 months. 

While the broken bones have healed, Ryan's recovery from his brain injury will be a long and slow process as he still faces many more months of therapy to regain lost skills and help his brain rewire. His number one goal is to get back to being a father and husband and taking part in those responsibilities again. He is also anxious to eventually get back to work in the US Patent Office. Unfortunately, insurance is not expected to cover all the costs of Ryan's care and recovery. Additionally, his wife has taken a leave from her job to care for Ryan full time. Donations will be used for his continued therapy, care, and medical costs not covered by insurance.

If you are a federal employee, you can also help by donating annual leave to Ryan.  You can find the form here and direct any questions to Jessica at jessi77 at mac dot com.  Thank you so much for your help!

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on December 16, 2017


Posted on December 16, 2017

What a whirlwind of a year 2017 has been for our family.  Looking back over the past year, I can see that the progress Ryan has made has been incredible.  While so much has changed and Ryan is still working on moving forward, we have reclaimed so much of what was lost initially.  We are so happy to be able to have Ryan home with us, telling jokes and watching silly videos on YouTube with the boys, getting up for early morning exercise (walking instead of running now), and getting out to enjoy the world around us.  Ryan has retained two of his most important traits - his kindness and his work ethic.  He is consistently grateful to be alive, able to enjoy being with his boys and with me, and he is constantly trying to figure out how to get better and how to overcome the challenges he faces now.

In mid-September, the Washington Post ran a feature about Ryan's story and what it is like to recover from brain injury.  Katherine Arcement, the reporter, followed Ryan's progress for over eight months and we were pleased with how the story turned out.  It represents a fairly accurate view of what recovering from a brain injury can be like.  If you haven't had a chance to check out the article, you can find it here

This fall, Ryan started hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  This treatment is used conventionally for wound treatment, carbon monoxide poisoning, and decompression sickness.  There are studies out of Israel that show it can help heal brain injury and accelerate recovery and in some countries it is a standard treatment for TBI, but in the US, insurance does not cover it for this use.  We are so grateful for the generosity of those who have donated to us as it has allowed us to pay for this treatment.  The treatments are nearly every day and we drive to Reston (about 40 minutes from home) to receive them, so it is taking up a significant amount of time too.  Ryan is about to finish his 40th session and we have seen good results.  Among other things, hearing has returned to Ryan's right ear.  He is showing good progress in physical therapy where he is focusing mainly on improving balance and with almost every session shows a small step forward.  He is generally more "put together" as well, improving in his memory and ability to problem solve and focus.  He will take a 30 day break after he finishes the 40th session, but will likely do 40 more sessions after that.

We look forward to celebrating the holiday season at home with our boys and with friends.  Thank you again for your generosity, your hope and prayers, and your love.  

Posted on September 5, 2017


Posted on September 5, 2017

One year ago, Ryan came home after four months in the hospital.  These anniversaries come with mixed emotions.  Watching a mind heal is both fascinating and frustrating.  As we look back and marvel at how far Ryan has come, we can’t help but also be devastated by what has been lost and the unknown future. 

We continue to hope for more progress and so far we have not been disappointed.  There is no new normal yet, just a cycle of growth in which every two or three weeks brings a new way of living for our family because Ryan is a little more capable and thinking a little more clearly than he was in the previous few weeks.  It’s exhilarating and exhausting.  Ryan is managing his home life more and more independently and working on moving outside of that a little at a time.  He continues in outpatient physical, occupational, and speech therapy three times a week at Inova Mount Vernon.  We are grateful for all of the kind and competent therapists who have helped him so much and while we wish therapy were a thing of the past, we’re grateful for Ryan’s progress and good health insurance that keeps him there and moving forward.  We fill the days off with a myriad of exercises, brain games, other therapy-like tasks, and outings to museums, gardens, and parks. 

Ryan’s knee surgery in April to remove the heterotopic ossification (abnormal bone growth - a complication of brain and spinal cord injury) was successful and he is making slow and steady progress toward a fully functioning knee in physical therapy and with stretching and strengthening exercises at home.  With his newly working knee, Ryan started participating in NRH’s adaptive cycling program which meets once a week throughout the summer and provides a recumbent bicycle for him to ride.  He has thoroughly enjoyed being back on a bike and he’s looking forward to participating in NRH’s Super H 5K on a recumbent bike at the end of September. 

Another big positive for our family has been going on a few trips in the past few months.  We celebrated Ryan’s Alive Day (anniversary of his injury) at the beach in Delaware where he took being alive to heart and wanted to experience everything there from the sunrise, to the wind in his hair, to the arcade with his boys.  We also flew to Utah and spent a few weeks this summer reconnecting with family, many of whom we haven’t seen in three years since we did not visit Utah the summer before Ryan’s injury and had to cancel our plans to go last summer.  It was heartening to reconnect with so many and feel their love for Ryan and our family in person.  And most recently, we headed to Chincoteague and Assateague, where Ryan climbed the 167 spiral steps Assateague Lighthouse, with me a step behind to spot.  I think I was more nervous than he was!  Early on, we wondered if being able to enjoy family trips would be something that would return, and we’re so glad that it has. 

I find myself continually thinking how a tragic injury like this cannot be handled alone and we are continually grateful for the massive amount of support that has surrounded us from the beginning and continues after all these months.  The support from each one of you has made the best recovery possible available to Ryan and will continue to help him move forward.  Without the donations of money and leave, the help with meals, chores at home, and with our children, the love, prayers, and hope of our friends, family, and strangers, Ryan would not be experiencing the kind of recovery that he is.  He would not have the hope and help he needs to continue to improve.  Thank you again for giving our family this gift of recovery through your time, talents, donations, and love.  We are thankful to have you along with us on this journey.

Posted on May 6, 2017


Posted on May 6, 2017

It’s been a year - by far the most demanding, painful, and stressful year of our 16 year marriage. As we look back at that year and try to get perspective, I’m realizing that the way in which we go forward as a family will depend considerably on how we tell this story and unlike the circumstances that put us here, the story we tell is something we can choose. This is our story…

Ryan is a survivor. From the moment he was hit, he fought and he continues to push forward courageously. The statistics were against him. Most with his kind of injuries either die or remain in a permanent vegetative state. He has defied the odds and made steady gains from the time he landed in the hospital. The best predictor of the future recovery from brain injury is past recovery, so we expect so many more good things to come in time for Ryan.

We are loved and the world is full of good people. Medical professionals, family, friends, neighbors, and strangers have helped in abundance to bear our burdens with their talents, time, donations, and love. I have said before that this is not the type of situation you can face alone. We are so grateful to have a community who have surrounded us with their ceaseless support.

Our children are strong. Peter and Ned have an amazing ability to unconditionally love both Ryan and I and carry on. Of course they have experienced struggle and distress in the face of this challenge, but overall, they have remained steadfast in their love and hope for Ryan and the future of our family.

We will never know why these things happen. While we mourn what we have lost, we look forward with hope because there is much hope to be had in the gains that Ryan continues to make and we realize that we must move forward for our children and for ourselves.

Ryan continues to progress consistently in recovery. He has never experienced a plateau. For this, we are grateful. We certainly have moments of discouragement, but overall, Ryan’s steady improvement fuels our hope that we’re not even close to the end of the recovery he is capable of making. His goal remains to be able to return to work.

He recently had surgery to remove the bone growth on his right knee that was so severely limiting his flexion. It will be a slow process involving copious sessions of physical therapy to get him back to full flexion, but we are already seeing the benefits of having a little more flexion. Ryan is able to bend his leg enough when sitting in most chairs to get his foot flat on the ground, making it more comfortable for him, and his gait is looking more natural.

After some time off due to the surgery, Ryan will be back in a full schedule of outpatient therapy (Speech, Occupational, and Physical) next week. At home, we are focusing on voice therapy with two sessions a day. Ryan’s voice is getting stronger, more clear, and I am hearing hints of intonation coming back. We are also working on meal preparation, which was not a forte of Ryan’s pre-injury, but is such a great therapy since it encompasses so many different types of skills. With Ryan’s continued progress, it has become much easier recently to enjoy some of the sites around DC. One of our favorites was when we ventured to the Botanical Gardens where Ryan made good use of his Ph.D level plant biology vocabulary.

In the past few months, I have started teaching a handful of piano students again and am preparing to go back to more regular schedule in the next couple of months. As the burden of Ryan’s care has eased, it has felt odd and amazing to reclaim some attention for myself and to be able to give more attention to the boys.

Ryan is still very much in the acute phase of recovery. Recovery from brain injury is unlike any other injury in its scope and length. We continue to experience many stresses, both emotional and financial. This is definitely not a road we would have chosen to travel, so long and with so many unpredictable twists and turns, but we find things to be grateful for, put our focus on those, and remain hopeful for continued improvements in the future. Thank you again for traveling with us.

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