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Progress slow for survivor of Amtrak derailment

November 25, 2018

DENVER (AP) — The progress is slow, marked by good days and bad ones. But Timmy Brodigan is making incredible strides 11 months after he nearly died in a train derailment.

On December 18th 2017, the Northwest froze. Amtrak 501 derailed en route from Seattle to Portland. Three people died and dozens more were injured.

In the wreckage, first responders found a 16-year-old boy upside down and barely breathing. Timmy Brodigan had a broken neck and several other injuries.

At that point, it wasn’t clear if Timmy would live or not. But he improved day after day.

In January, he left for Colorado, where he spent months at Craig Hospital, which specializes in spinal cord injuries.

Now, after months of grueling physical and occupation therapy, Timmy can slowly walk with the help of a walker and his therapists.

Nearly every day, Timmy, now 17, comes to NeuAbility, a wellness center in Denver that specializes in rehabilitation.

The specialists work Timmy through an assortment of exercises to rebuild his strength and reteach him how to walk. They also stimulate his muscles, creating spasms that allow him to move more comfortably.

“It’s hard,” Timmy said. “They push me a lot there.”

Timmy still spends his days in a wheelchair. He now lives in a small apartment just outside Denver with his mother Robyn.

His fine finger movement is improving through occupational therapy, but Timmy still struggles to hold objects.

He tries to block out that day in December and focus on the future.

“Because I know it gets me if I think about, that it really happened,” Timmy said. “I mean, I know this happened, I get that now. But it’s how much my life changed over that. And I just don’t want to think about it much.”

Timmy believes, in many ways, he’s stronger today than he was before the derailment. He tries to think about the important things in life now: things like school, family and his future.

“When I walk again, I really want to be a firefighter,” he said. “Because they’re the ones that saved my life. They’re the ones that got to me. That really inspired me to be one and help someone else.”

He hopes to come home in late spring 2019, but he doesn’t want to return to Seattle until he can walk on his own. So every day he fights to achieve that goal.

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