Brain-Damaged Woman Talks After 20 Years 
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 Brain-Damaged Woman Talks After 20 Years

Associated Press
Feb. 12, 2005

Brain-Damaged Woman Talks After 20 Years
Woman Who Suffered Brain Damage From 1984 Hit-and-Run Begins Talking
After 20 Years of Silence

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin has been mostly
oblivious to the world around her the victim of a drunken driver who
struck her down as she walked to her car. Today, after a remarkable
recovery, she can talk again.

Scantlin's father knows she will never fully recover, but her newfound
ability to speak and her returning memories have given him his daughter
back. For years, she could only blink her eyes one blink for "no," two
blinks for "yes" to respond to questions that no one knew for sure she

"I am astonished how primal communication is. It is a key element of
humanity," Jim Scantlin said, blinking back tears.

Sarah Scantlin was an 18-year-old college freshman on Sept. 22, 1984,
when she was hit by a drunk driver as she walked to her car after
celebrating with friends at a {*filter*} club. That week, she had been hired
at an upscale clothing store and won a spot on the drill team at
Hutchinson Community College.

After two decades of silence, she began talking last month.

On Saturday, Scantlin's parents hosted an open house at her nursing
home to introduce her to friends, family members and reporters.

Dressed in a blue warm-up suit, she seemed at times overwhelmed by the
attention. She spoke little, mostly answering questions in a single

Is she happy she can talk? "Yeah," she replied.

What does she tell her parents when they leave? "I love you," she said.

Scantlin still suffers constantly from the effects of the accident. She
habitually crosses her arms across her chest, her fists clenched under
her chin. Her legs constantly spasm and thrash. Her right foot is so
twisted it is almost reversed. Her neck muscles are so constricted she
cannot swallow to eat.

A week ago, her parents got a call from Jennifer Trammell, a licensed
nurse at the Golden Plains Health Care Center. She asked Betsy Scantlin
if she was sitting down, told her someone wanted to talk to her and
switched the phone to speaker mode:

"Hi, Mom."

"Sarah, is that you?" her mother asked.

"Yes," came the throaty reply.

"How are you doing?"


"Do you need anything," her mother asked her later.

"More makeup."

"Did she just say more makeup?" the mother asked the nurse.

Scantlin started talking in mid-January but asked staff members not to
tell her parents until Valentine's Day to surprise them, Trammell said.
But last week she could not wait any longer to talk to them.

"I didn't think it would ever happen, it had been so long," Betsy
Scantlin said.

Scantlin's doctor, Bradley Scheel, said physicians are not sure why she
suddenly began talking but believe critical pathways in the brain may
have regenerated.

"It is extremely unusual to see something like this happen," Scheel

The breakthrough came when the nursing home's activity director, Pat
Rincon, was working with Scantlin and a small group of other patients,
trying to get them to speak.

Rincon had her back to Scantlin while she worked with another resident.
She had just gotten that resident to reply "OK," when she suddenly
heard Sarah behind her also repeat the words: "OK. OK."

Staff members brought in a speech therapist and intensified their work
with Sarah. They did not want to get her parents' hopes up until they
were sure Sarah would not relapse, Trammell said.

Family members say Scantlin's understanding of the outside world comes
mostly from news and soap operas that played on the television in her

On Saturday, her brother asked whether she knew what a CD was. Sarah
said she did, and she knew it had music on it.

But when he asked her how old she was, Sarah guessed she was 22. When
her brother gently told her she was 38 years old now, she just stared
silently back at him. The nurses say she thinks it is still the 1980s.

Her father, Jim Scantlin, understands that Sarah will probably never
leave the health care center, but he is grateful for her improvement.

"This place is her home ... They have given me my daughter back," he

Thu, 02 Aug 2007 13:19:46 GMT
 Brain-Damaged Woman Talks After 20 Years
makes ya wonder if she was thinking "are they gonna pull the plug???"

Fri, 03 Aug 2007 08:40:03 GMT
 Brain-Damaged Woman Talks After 20 Years

> makes ya wonder if she was thinking "are they gonna pull the plug???"

You think SHE'S got problems? How about me? My brain damaged wife hasn't
SHUT UP for 20 years!

Sat, 04 Aug 2007 08:58:14 GMT
 [ 3 post ] 

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