A Texas teen who suffered a traumatic brain injury during a gymnastics accident continues to make measurable improvements from his hospital bed, according to his doctors and his family.
Blake Hyland, 14, of McGregor, accidentally slammed his head onto the floor of a gymnastics center on Feb. 18.
After undergoing emergency surgery in Waco, Blake Hyland was transferred to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.
Blake Hyland remained in pediatric intensive care for 21 days until this week, when doctors were able to move him to the rehabilitation care unit, according to Blake's father, Pat Hyland.
"We have these tough days, we have these challenges and these things to overcome. But then you have these times that we just hold onto and we see our son again," Pat Hyland said about his son's recovery process.
Blake Hyland's recovery will best be measured in months and years, not in days or weeks, according to the doctor supervising his care.
"On a minute to minute, hour to hour, or even day by day basis, there are going to be lots of ups and lots of downs that we go through," said Dr. Warren Marks, the Medical Director of Neurorehabilitation at Cook Children's Medical Center. "And we try to look at the overall trend rather than what's happening at each little moment in time."
"Often that means taking him back through very basic steps, teaching him how to do simple things again: even head control, hand control, obviously sitting, walking, things like that," Marks said. "Those will all be gradual step-by-step things that we'll go through."
A major moment for the Hyland family came this week when John Iadeneesi, a friend of a relative and a former Navy SEAL, came to Blake Hyland's bedside.
"Blake's goal one day was to become a Navy SEAL. He's had that goal for many years. And John knew that and that's why he came to visit," Pat Hyland said.
The family posted two photographs of Iadeneesi's visit to their "Prayers for Blake Hyland" Facebook page, the first time since he has been hospitalized that they have allowed Blake to be seen in his current condition.
Iadeneesi stood and spoke with the teen, prayed with him and presented the teen with a SEAL medallion as a gift.
Blake Hyland prompted an almost immediate response, according to his mother.
"John asked him to smile. And you could see Blake smile. That was actually the first time that Blake smiled," Cindy Hyland said. "And then we took the medallion, Pat took it and said, 'Here, grab it out of my hand and hold it,' and Blake squeezed it tight in his hand."
"We were just overjoyed, and just, tears," Cindy Hyland said. "We tear up a lot."