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Young Woman Walking Tall Years After Brain Trauma

After 6-year-old Reagan fell out of a loft, doctors spent three weeks trying to combat the effects of her brain swelling. They expected severe disability and a long rehabilitation, but Reagan's progress surprised everyone. Read Transcript

REPORTER: February 2nd, 2011 was an unusually calm day

on the Bowman farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

That changed soon after six-year-old Reagan got home

from school.

Like most days, she had gone out to play

in the loft of a storage shed.

Every day she went out there and played with her cats.

She fell and hit her head on the concrete

and crawled herself out.

My son found her in the driveway,

and then he picked her up and carried her to my husband.

REPORTER: Her parents Darryl and Tara

saw no signs of serious injury.

She was crying, but she would not say anything.

And she wasn't bleeding.

There was nothing to indicate she was really hurt.

REPORTER: To be safe, they called 911.

They were stunned when the rescue squad told them

she needed to be taken to a local hospital

and then medevacked to the University of Virginia

trauma center in nearby Charlottesville.

TARA BOWMAN: And that was definitely a tough time,

watching the helicopter go across the mountain

into the horizon over to Charlottesville,

knowing that your baby's in that helicopter and you're not.

DARRYL BOWMAN: We had a lot of concerns.

On the way to UVA, I made three phone calls to three preachers

and told them to pray for us.

I really expected to take her over to UVA

and be home in a day or two.

REPORTER: At the hospital, they learned

Reagan had suffered head trauma and was in critical condition.

KENNETH NORWOOD: In addition to her severe brain injury,

she also had a fracture of her lower left leg

and she had a fracture of her right orbits

around her right eye.

It was very severe.

Her injuries were life-threatening.

She could have died in the short term, in the acute process.

TARA BOWMAN: She was laying there

with every tube in the world hooked up to her.

And they did drill into her skull

to check the cranial pressure.

Looking at your child lay there is definitely hard.

It's very hard.

DARRYL BOWMAN: We just couldn't believe it.

I mean, we were just confused and didn't know what to think.

KENNETH NORWOOD: The brain injury

resulted in swelling of her brain, which progressed rapidly

over the first 48 hours.

What would have eventually happened

is her brain would have seeped out of her ears.

And then she would have died.

But I just said, God, you can't take her yet.

Please don't take her yet.

They actually eventually had to remove

both of her frontal bones in order

to allow her brain to have room to swell so that further damage

would not occur.

REPORTER: The Bowmans reached out

to their community for prayer.

DARRYL BOWMAN: Kids went to the community Christian school.

TARA BOWMAN: And the very next day after the accident,

they all got around the gym and held hands in a big circle

and prayed for her.

DARRYL BOWMAN: Friends came over and had prayer with us.

She came through her surgery just fine, no complications,

but we will not know any effects of her accident

till she wakes up from her induced coma.

KENNETH NORWOOD: And the concern would

be that she would have such severe long-term brain

damage that she would end up with problems

with walking, talking, thinking, eating, taking care of herself.

REPORTER: Reagan was heavily sedated for three weeks.

During that time, the brain swelling

went down enough so doctors could

replace the bones in her skull.

Afterwards, she started physical therapy.

TARA BOWMAN: Reagan had to relearn to brush her teeth

and to walk again and make sure she didn't

choke when she would swallow.

So we had to teach her how to swallow again

and to protect her airway.

Every day you'd tell she was getting better.

You couldn't keep her down before the accident.

She was strong-willed.

REPORTER: Then another problem developed.

KENNETH NORWOOD: Once her skull was put back in,

unfortunately, she developed an infection at the site

and she ended up having to be on several courses of antibiotics

to treat that.

She ended up having to have the fluid drained out of that area.

REPORTER: The Bowmans continued to pray for their little girl's


DARRYL BOWMAN: And every night, we prayed over her.

TARA BOWMAN: We surrounded the room

with Christian music and prayers and scripture

and spoke the Word out loud.

REPORTER: Reagan's infection cleared up quickly,

and she continued her therapy.

KENNETH NORWOOD: She ended up spending less time

in rehabilitation than we thought

she was going to need to spend in rehabilitation.

Her progress was very rapid, more rapid

than we typically see with children

who have this degree of severity of a brain injury.

TARA BOWMAN: It was 56 days after the accident,

eight weeks, that we got to come home on March 30th.

And God didn't leave anything unhealed.

Everything was healed completely.

REPORTER: That was 2011.

Today, as Reagan moves into her teen years,

she still shows no sign of long-term effects.

I feel perfectly fine.

I feel I can do anything.

We typically would see significant long-term problems

with attention, with impulse control problems,

language problems, I mean, look at the areas of her brain that

were injured, and again, it's quite remarkable that she

isn't manifesting those difficulties.

TARA BOWMAN: To finally bring Reagan home

and have her walk through the house

was just an enormous, happy feeling.

Just thank you, God.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting her walk

through that door.

REAGAN BOWMAN: I know that God answers prayers because I'm

living proof of that.

TARA BOWMAN: Prayer does work, and the power of prayer

was there and healed her completely.

God is the great physician.

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