Brad's Recovery: Life After Neck Injury

By: Lauren Squires Email
By: Lauren Squires Email

It's been almost four months since an Omaha man dove into a shallow pool and broke his neck. He could have died. Instead, Brad Johnson’s recovery has been nothing short of amazing.

“So many parts about it feel like a dream you know, like I can't believe it happened,” said Johnson.

That’s how Johnson describes July 4th, 2012.

“It was a big hang out, cook out thing at my brother’s house,” said Johnson.

He decided to dive into his brother's shallow pool.

“I’ve dove into at least a thousand times dove into shallow water. And you think you're fine, you think that oh you're a good enough diver you'd never mess up. You'd never hit your face on the bottom like I did. It just takes one time,” said Johnson.

This time, he immediately lost all feeling below his chest.

“I was flapping to get my head above water and I couldn't,” said Johnson.

His cousin pulled him above water and held him until rescue crews arrived.

“I just looked at him and knew that it was scary. Something bad was happening and then he started talking about not being able to move,” said his mother, Cheryl Queen.

She recalls rushing to the hospital, where doctors said he had a broken neck. Five days later, he had surgery, two weeks later he was starting rehab.

Just five weeks ago he arrived home to a renovated house. Wider door ways, a roll-in shower, hardwood floors, a ramp to the front door and a chair lift.

“He's been unbelievably strong throughout all this,” said his girlfriend, of 7 years, Nicole Bruckner.

“I just kind of kept positive with it and hearing from all my family members with it I felt like I was going to be alright,” said Johnson.

Just four months after the accident, he can move his arms and one hand. He's regained some feeling in left side and hopefully that he will walk again someday.

“Waiting for the day to get some movement. Everyday I’m trying. Everyday I’m thinking about it,” said Johnson.

And everyday he thinks about what could have happened and the second chance he has at life.

“I'm very lucky, that could have been it for me right there,” said Johnson. “You just wish you could just take that one second back, it was only a second.”

Brad's family says they've gotten a lot of help from the Christopher Reeve Foundation. But he has also racked up a lot of debt in medical bills.

To help pay for those bills and support the Reeve Foundation, they are holding a fundraiser on Saturday, November 10th at the Omaha Police Union Hall, 13445 Cryer Avenue. The event runs from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. (See attached flyer)

Proceeds from the event will help pay for medical bills, extended physical therapy and medical equipment. Some of the money raised will be donated to the Reeve Foundation. Also on hand, Diventures, a group to help provide diving and safety instructions.


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