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Former Sidney resident recovering from coma

By STEVEN HEYWOOD
February 28, 2013 · 2:48 PM
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Joshua Harris-Branigan in happier times overlooking the Sea to Sky Highway. / Submitted photo

Joshua Harris-Branigan has a long, hard road of rehabilitation ahead of him, after he suffered a fall in Courtenay in January which put him in a coma for 24 days.

The 22-year-old former Sidney resident and Parkland Secondary School grad was initially not expected to survive a 100 meter fall he took when a mudslide sent him onto some rocks after a New Year’s party. He was left unconscious and luckily was found the next morning by a local couple out walking their dogs.

His dad, David Branigan, said Josh has been in Victoria General Hospital for more than a month and early on, things didn’t look good.

“There were some dark prognoses,” David said. “He had a moderate to severe brain injury on both hemispheres of his brain. There were no signs of life.

“It was a dark time for our family.”

After being transferred to VGH, a specialist there identified treatment options for Josh.

“He thought Josh could recover,” David said, adding after those 24 days in a coma, his son regained consciousness.

With some memory gaps as a result of his injury, David said Josh is now working hard on recovering his movement.

“The progress, from where he was at first to where he is now, it’s unbelievable.”

David said the first three weeks were rough on the family, dealing with the trauma of the accident and no thought that Josh would ever recover.

Now, things have turned a corner and recovery can been seen.

“There’s no doubt, this is a severe brain injury,” said David, “but it’s one part of the body that people understand the least.”

Josh is slowly getting more of his movement back in his legs and arms.

David said his son has bad days and good, and is thankful he is getting a second chance at life.

“He’s getting a fire in his belly to get rehab and get out of that hospital bed and get a better life.”

Josh, said his dad, had hoped to study to be an acupuncturist, and still holds out hope that he can do so.

The medical bills are, for the most part, being covered by the medical services plan. David said, however, that the extra rehabilitation needed to make more progress is a cost being borne by the family.

“The health system has been good to date, but now he’s only getting 15 minutes a day of rehab and he needs at least two hours.”

That, and specialist care, are costs now facing the family. Plus, David said he left his job in Courtenay to be near his son in hospital, so there’s little money coming in to pay the bills.

That’s why the family is holding a fundraising concert on March 9 at the Charlie White Theatre.

David, with contacts through a career in hospitality, has enlisted the help of Courtenay-area musician Sue Medley and the Back Roads Band, as well as Whistler DJ Peace Frog. They are donating a portion of their time to perform  at the benefit concert, and to help out with the family’s bills. David hopes people will turn out to enjoy a good show and help in Josh’s recovery effort.

To learn more about the concert and about Josh’s recovery, search for JHB Recovery on Facebook. Tickets for the March 9 concert and silent auction can also be pursued through the Mary Winspear Centre.