Injured airman moved to Richmond

Jan. 01, 2013 @ 04:27 PM


Airman Bryce Powers, a 20-year-old Piedmont graduate from Monroe, was involved in a car accident in Misawa, Japan, where he was stationed, on Oct. 13 and has been in a coma since. 

In late November, he was moved from Hawaii to Richmond, Va., where he is undergoing treatment. He is still in a coma, but has been showing some signs of recovery. On the Rancho recovery scale, where one is non-responsive and eight is regular functioning, he rates a 2.5. Doctors in his current program would like him to reach a four. 

“He has therapies now, even though he’s not awake,” Cathy Powers, Bryce’s mother, said. 

Doctors help him stand, have him sit in a wheelchair, do speech therapy and other therapies. 

“He can’t do much now because he’s still in a coma,” Powers said. 

He wil be in his current program in Richmond for 90 days. During the 90 days he has to communicate in some way that he is with them. He can blink or move his thumbs, but he has to do it several times, Powers explained. 

“If he can do that, so they know yes, he is there” he will be entered into their severe traumatic brain injury program. 

“We’re all hoping,” Powers said. “(The doctors) told us not to lose hope.”

He started “tracking” a few days ago, which is eye movement in response to stimuli.

“He doesn’t do it all the time, but it has to start somewhere,” Powers said. “I can really sense and feel that something’s happening.” 

The doctors tell Powers to be patient and that 90 days is a long time. 

They tell her, “don’t give up hope, number one, and number two, the family is always the first one to know something is up with the patient,” she said. 

Often the family will notice changes, then the doctors will, Powers said. 

Since he has been moved to Richmond, Powers’ family, her husband and daughter, have been able to visit and sit by Bryce’s bed. 

“It’s been very helpful,” Powers said. 

Her daughter is a student at Union County Early College and her principal allowed her to take some Fridays off to travel to Virginia. 

“They’re here every other weekend for three days,” Powers said. “It’s been just a huge, just a wonderful blessing for me.” 

However, having the family together can be bittersweet as well. 

“When the whole family is when it hits,” she said. “I realize more when we’re all together what we’ve lost, even though we’re hoping it comes back.” 

Powers continues to keep the community updated through her Facebook page, which has nearly 7,000 subscribers. 

The community continues to reach out. Her local church, Benton Heights Presbyterian, held a candlelight vigil for Bryce. People from around the world all lit their candles at the same time, Powers said. 

Her Facebook page is called, “Prayer and Support Group for Airman Bryce Powers.” 

A few days ago, she told followers to be ready for a Christmas miracle.