An American Hero - Sgt. Ryan Major's Story | Traumatic Brain Injury | MedStar Health

An American Hero - Sgt. Ryan Major

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When it came time for Ryan Major to begin his tour in Iraq, he was proud to serve to defend the United States. He wanted nothing more than to be a great soldier and leader.

At 12:15 p.m. on Friday, November 10, 2006, Ryan’s mother, Lorrie Knight-Major checked her cell phone messages:

“This is Sgt 1st Class Williamson with the United States Army,” a voice said. “I am calling regarding your son, Ryan Major. Please call me.”

Before the man’s second sentence was completed, the tears were flowing down Lorrie’s face.

Ryan’s unit was on foot patrol in Ramadi, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device was detonated within two feet of where Ryan stood. There were many casualties in his unit, but Ryan’s injuries were by far the worst: his right leg had already been amputated; he had severe injuries to his right pelvis and burns to his left leg and arms. Both of his arms were fractured and there were other internal injuries along with a probable traumatic brain injury (TBI) , which could not be assessed until he came out of his coma.

Within 24 hours of arrival in Landsthul, Germany, doctors had stabilized Ryan for transport to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., He was being treated for multiple infections and nobody knew if Ryan would survive. Once Ryan woke up from his coma, he was so weak he wasn’t able to lift his head off of his pillow. He couldn’t move any of his fingers. He could only blink his eyes and turn his head slightly to the left and right.

Ryan was then admitted to NRH on January 31, 2007, for extensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy. He returned to his home on August 17, 2007. Ryan’s primary reason for transferring to NRH was for rehabilitation and their experience with TBI patients. Therapy began before Ryan could leave his bed.

In the year following his accident, Ryan continuously challenges himself to push through any limitations. He completed three races using a hand crank bike: the Hope and Possibility 5K Run, the Army 10 Miler, and the New York City Marathon. He plans to attend college and major in business administration and he and his two grade school friends have recently started a business, Major Scanning Business Solutions, which provides corporate document management.

Today, Ryan Major carries himself as he always has—as a proud U.S. soldier and a true American hero.

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