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Thursday, September 13, 2012
Banasiewicz to begin rehab

By Brian Tunney
ESPN.com

Brett Banasiewicz is expected to begin acute inpatient traumatic brain injury rehabilitation next week.

Three weeks after DK Bicycles BMX pro Brett Branasiewicz crashed at a contest in Virginia Beach, Va., the 17-year-old remains in a Virginia Beach hospital, and is making positive improvements after regaining consciousness on September 7. According to a statement from the Athlete Recovery Fund (ARF), "Brett is now clear of steroids and sedation medications and as of yesterday his feeding tube was removed which has offered him a lot more comfort. Pending a swallow test Brett may be able to keep the feeding tube out going forward. Due to damages suffered to his vocal cords during the emergency intubation on site and the feeding tube, he is not yet able to speak. There have been some signs of infection but Brett has responded well to antibiotics and the feeding tube has been repositioned to his stomach."

Neurological doctors have suggested that Banasiewicz will make a full recovery, with the help of rehabilitation. Banasiewicz's family is currently finalizing plans to move him to a facility for acute inpatient traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, which will include a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks of intensive therapy.

Earlier in the year, Banasiewicz had signed up for the Athlete Recovery Fund's Medjet Membership program, meaning medical transportation will be fully covered, but ARF has made it clear that Brett's insurance will not cover out of state care for rehabilitation. Aaron Cooke of ARF is working closely with several companies and individuals who wish to donate towards Brett's recovery in order to try and get him a reserved rehabilitation space.

Meanwhile, the Athlete Recovery Fund has begun a campaign to promote awareness about the different types of helmets used in BMX competition. In an ARF-created YouTube video uploaded earlier this week, Cooke examines the differences between soft foam and hard foam helmets, stating that the helmet Banasiewicz crashed in "was not designed for bicycle use."

"Following this injury, contests will have consequences and restrict competition if the wrong helmet is worn. There is a positive that can come out of this injury, and that will help make BMX safer for all those who compete in the future," said Cooke.

Earlier today, Banasiewicz was nominated for the Ride BMX 2012 NORA Cup Ramp Rider of the Year. The Athlete Recovery Fund is implementing plans for a "special project" to coincide with the NORA Cup Awards ceremony, scheduled for Sept. 20 at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Nev.

Banasiewicz crashed during practice on a 720 at the LXVI BMX Invitational presented by Vans in Virginia Beach, Va. on August 23. He was placed in a medically induced coma to control bleeding and swelling on his brain, and remained unconscious for 15 days.