Jadon Adams is a natural athlete. The 16-year-old sophomore from Beloit, Kan., excels at track and basketball, but his heart belongs to football. A talented running back and linebacker, Jadon made six touchdowns in a single game last fall. But on Oct. 7, the young teen collapsed on a football field in Salina, Kan., playing the game he loved. Jadon’s parents, Jeff and Connie, watched in shock as their son, the leading rusher for the Beloit Trojans, lay motionless on the sidelines.
Jadon was airlifted to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita where doctors suspected head trauma. However, Jeff states, there was no indication that Jadon’s injury was caused by one particular play. “I never saw anything happen on the ball field that would bring this on,” said Jeff. “He just crumbled.” Earlier in the week Jadon had been complaining of headaches, but had been cleared to play football that Friday. Doctors couldn’t give a definitive diagnosis, but suggest the injury may have resulted from a virus coupled with a hit to the head. An MRI revealed bleeding on the right side of Jadon’s brain.
After two weeks in the intensive care unit, Jadon emerged from a coma to begin rehabilitation at Madonna for his traumatic brain injury. “I always worried about broken bones but never this kind of injury,” said Connie. Seeing Jadon unresponsive, on a feeding tube and unable to walk was difficult for his family. The 6-foot-tall football player had dropped more than 25 pounds. “We just want him back to being the old Jadon,” said Connie.
The strict regimen of sports training helped Jadon tackle his brain injury like an archrival. Physical therapy on the Lokomat® and aqua therapy helped increase his walking pattern, coordination and muscle control. Occupational therapists worked on Jadon’s fine motor control and mental accuracy with activities like shape sorting.
“He worked hard from day one,” said Ashley Yates, speech-language pathologist. Jadon’s love of team and outdoor sports were incorporated to stimulate his conversation skills. Soon his one-word answers expanded to full sentences. “That was a milestone. I could feel myself getting better,” said Jadon.
Cheerleaders celebrating Jadon’s progress include his football coach and teammates who visited often. “It was great seeing those guys,” said Jadon. Messages to his CarePage, “Praying for Jadon,” hit more than 15,000. Jadon’s hometown sold wristbands, buttons and held fundraisers to offset expenses for the injured football player. Across Beloit people adopted the “Go Orange for Jadon” slogan, tying ribbons to trees, mailboxes and doors with the Trojans’ school color. The organizers also read that research suggests the color orange stimulates oxygen supply to the brain, and wanted “to help Jadon wake up and heal.” In a moving tribute to the teen, the Discovery Channel’s corporate office in Maryland (where a friend of Jeff’s works) switched their normally blue night lights to an orange hue for an entire week. “The support was overwhelming,” said Jeff.
Jadon kept forging ahead and within a month, he was free of the feeding tube and joked with the nurses to grill him a steak. Normally a quiet kid, Connie said Jadon’s personality changed and he became more outgoing and verbal.
Jadon’s speech therapists focused on restoring the cognitive skills for memory and executive functions. Initially, Jadon had difficulty following a daily schedule and navigating around Madonna. “We used memory strategies to help Jadon regain basic skills,” said Ashley. Once Jadon mastered those, he moved to higher level memory tasks that would ensure a successful return to school.
Sessions in the Therapeutic Learning Center kept Jadon on track with his academics. Playing games, like the card game Pitch, during recreational therapy tested the teen’s mathematics and memory.
On Dec. 2, Jadon was reunited with his family and friends in Kansas and “feels stronger every day.” He attends school part time and continues to make amazing progress in outpatient therapy. Jadon’s winning game plan includes his ongoing drive, huge support system and strong faith. “God has a plan