C.R. Johnson returns home
January 19, 2006
C.R. Johnson is back in Truckee, rehabilitating in his parents’ living room instead of the Utah hospital he was held in for 34 days.
“I’m extremely glad,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to be home. I finally feel comfortable.”
Johnson, who was in a coma for 10 days following a skiing accident in Utah (see below), was released from the hospital on Jan. 10, his mother Lorraine said. He is now working with Ladd Williams, of Bear Bones Physical Therapy, doing physical, speech, and occupational therapy.
Williams, who is a friend of Johnson’s, also flew out to Utah twice to work with Johnson in the hospital, Lorraine Johnson said.
“He’s such an amazing guy,” Johnson said of Williams. “He’s been a huge, huge part of my recovery.”
Although he has not been in much pain, the recovery period following the coma has been difficult for Johnson, who does not remember the accident.
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“It has been confusing because you go from awake at one time in one spot, then you wake up again and you’re in a whole different spot,” Johnson said of his stay at the hospital. “I was never too stoked [after waking from the coma] because I was so disoriented …
“I’d wake up in the middle of the night and look at my surroundings and not know where I was. It was completely disorienting.”
Johnson’s long-term memory is great, his mother said, but his short-term memory has yet to return fully. Doctors told Lorraine that reprogramming his short-term memory could take anywhere from three to four months or up to a year.
Johnson was not able to pinpoint the last thing he remembers before the accident, but said he is able to recall certain details about recent events when reminded about them.
Many of Johnson’s family members and friends joined him while he was in the hospital, and the outpouring of public support has been copious. Johnson said he appreciates everyone’s empathy greatly.
“I had my parents and friends around, and just talking to them and having them around was comforting,” he said.
About the public’s concern: “It’s meant so much to me. The energy people have sent me, people’s prayers and them thinking of me, I really think that helped me pull through,” Johnson said.
One of the most talented skiers in the industry, Johnson intends to return to the sport ” and not just for some mellow turns.
“I’m going to ski again for sure,” he said. “I’ve made it my life. I’m going to go back to the same level [as before the injury] and continue to improve from there.”
C.R. Johnson and several other skiers and snowboarders were working on a film at Brighton ski area on Dec. 8 when Johnson’s accident occurred.
In a sequence in which each athlete hit a small natural feature in succession ” described by pro skier Evan Raps, who was skiing with the group, as a “three-foot dip with a lip” ” Johnson somehow fell at the front of the line.
Raps, who was in the back of the line and did not witness the accident, said by the time he reached the scene Johnson was lying on his back unconscious, with his head facing downhill. Kye Peterson had trailed Johnson, Raps said, and in following in the same line collided into him.
The collision opened a small gash above Johnson’s eyebrow and knocked him unconscious for about three to five minutes, Raps said. When Johnson awoke he seemed OK, but then became “upset” when ski patrol began securing him in a sled, Raps said. Johnson’s father, Russ, said doctors told him that acting combative after head trauma is common.
“He had a lot of emotion coming out,” Raps said. “He was trying to rip the neck brace off. It took four of them [to strap him down]. It was ugly. He was fighting real hard.”
Johnson was sedated and airlifted to the University of Utah Hospital, where remained in a coma until Dec. 18. When Johnson awoke, he was unable to speak or move his arms or legs, his father said. He also had developed pneumonia while in the coma.
On Dec. 26 Johnson was able to sit up in bed and speak in a whisper, his mother Lorraine said, as well as eat solid food for the first time since the injury.
Soon after, Johnson started physical therapy, progressing from having to use a wheelchair to a walker to walking on his own power.