Every 21 seconds, someone in the US sustains a brain injury. Most injuries are never reported. Common sense tells us that we should wear a helmet when riding anything with wheels; whether it is a bike, skateboard or a moped. But for some reason, most people still don’t do it.
In 2003, Tony Ching became a part of that statistic. A University of Hawaii volleyball standout, Tony was at the top of his game. After his eligibility was up, he stayed at UH another semester to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. One day, while riding his moped to his mom’s house in Manoa, he was side swept by an oncoming vehicle. He flew about 40 feet on impact. Tony was not wearing a helmet…
Paramedics immediately rushed him to The Queen’s Medical Center. Within 20 minutes of his arrival, he became very agitated; different from the emotion that he would show on the court.
Tony had suffered a traumatic brain injury. He spent the next two and a half weeks at Queen’s before being transferred to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific (REHAB).
At REHAB, he re-learned how to do the little things that many people take for granted, like bathing and grooming. “The therapists really helped to get me back on my feet.” Because he was an athlete, Tony was in great physical shape, but the speech therapists helped to ensure that he was cognitively stable after the head trauma.
Because of his drive and positive attitude, Tony surprised everyone when he was back playing volleyball again after only three months. And then again 8 months later, when he went on to play professional volleyball overseas.
Today, he has retired from volleyball after 8 years and is back in Hawaii. His next goal is to go back to school for Nursing. So appreciative of the care he received, he wants to help others by paying it forward. He is also a big advocate for helmet safety and encourages people to wear a helmet when riding a bike or playing extreme sports.
He is lucky that he doesn’t have any lasting physical injuries from the accident, but he does have a scar to remind him where a helmet should have been.
REHAB has gone through a lot of changes since Tony was a patient. Although he is very grateful for the care he received at the hospital, at a recent visit back, he joked, “Man, I wish you had all of this stuff when I was here.” REHAB is currently undergoing major renovations. The newly renovated neurological unit, which opened last year, is equipped with the latest equipment in rehabilitation medicine. It is specifically designed to meet the needs of brain injury and stroke patients.
Because of donors like you, REHAB has the best staff and tools to help patients like Tony so that they do not need to go to the mainland for care. If you would like to contribute to the campaign to REBUILD REHAB for the patients of Hawaii, click here.
Tony while playing at UH Tony after he arrived at REHAB
Tony playing professionally overseas