Keep On Cruisin’
The Story of Dustin Offerson, A TBI Patient at Colorado Neurological Institute
Ever since Dustin Offerson was a young boy, he has had a passion for classic and hot rod automobiles, especially street rods. He grew up touring car shows all over the Rocky Mountain Region with his mother, Nancy Smith, and his other family members. He was the proud owner of a 1929 convertible rat rod, and at age nine, he fell in love with a 1933 Dodge pickup, which he purchased from the same owner two decades later. Little did he know that his love for cars would play a role in a major accident, which would impact his life forever.
On July 8, 2009, Dustin was driving the rat rod that he was rebuilding for his mom. He had been at a cruise night in Lakewood, Colorado with some of his car buddies. Nancy grew worried when he didn’t return back to her house.
Then, while working in her backyard, she heard the howling sound of ambulances and fire trucks. Maybe it was motherly instinct, but deep down she knew something was wrong. Unfortunately, her intuition was spot on. Dustin was involved in a terrible accident at the intersection of 6th and Colfax. An SUV had turned outside of the parameters of the turning lane, running over the top of the rat rod. Seeing the vehicle coming and not being able to move out of the way, Dustin ducked. While this quick reaction saved him, his life would be forever changed.
Dustin was transported to the trauma center at St. Anthony’s Hospital. Due to the severity of his traumatic brain injury, he was given a 5% chance of living. Through prayer and a showering of support from family, friends, neighbors and the street rod community, Dustin mustered the strength to fight on. Oddly enough, his nurse was a “car show girl”. She frequented some of the same car shows that Dustin and his family attended. You might say she was the perfect nurse for the job. She along with others from the street rod community later attended a car show benefit for Dustin.
After leaving St. Anthony’s, Dustin received care at Colorado Acute Long Term Hospital and inpatient rehabilitation at Craig Hospital under the direction of CNI Associate, Dr. Alan Weintraub. Dustin later returned to Craig Hospital for outpatient therapy and continues to remain involved. Meanwhile, during his rehab, Nancy and a good friend, Van Brower with Van Jeffries Mobile Rock n’ Roll, were working to get Dustin’s house ready for him. Major adaptations were implemented, including the following and more:
- Flat handled door handles; Due to his accident, Dustin has minimal use of his right hand. Fortunately, he is left-handed.
- A simple electric stove was installed to prevent accidents that might occur with gas.
- A walk-in shower with grab bars and a bench was constructed.
- Long pull chords on fans
- Grab bar installed near toilet
- New electrical garage door
- Windows repaired to open easily
- Carpet section replaced to prevent falls
- Simple microwave, griddle, and toaster purchased
- Automatic lights
- A game room for Dustin to enjoy
After Dustin’s accident, Nancy devoted her entire life to making sure her son received the best care possible. Thanks to her, Dustin was able to move into his home and live independently as of October 1, 2013.
Dustin now receives a combination of complementary therapies at Colorado Neurological Institute’s NeuroHealth Center. His gait, speech and motor skills continue to improve with the help of Ellen Belle, Director of Patient Services and Physical Therapist; Dottie Tarvestad, Physical Therapist; Kristina Anderson, Occupational Therapist and Debra Bandstra, Speech Therapist. Dustin is confident that the CNI team will help him accomplish his primary goals, which include writing his own checks, talking with ease and becoming more physically active.
Because of his accident, Dustin has brain damage, which has affected his speech, limb usage, walking and sight. He also suffered from occasional seizures, for which he sees CNI Associate, Dr. Charles Livsey. Additionally, he is experimenting with Botox with Dr. Karen Theriot. He hopes the injections will help improve the usage of his right hand.
Dustin keeps on cruisin’. He remains active in the street rod community. He has helped his mom coordinate the Golden Super Cruise and Roddin’ the Rockies. He also enjoys going to Bandimere Speedway during the summer months. His other hobbies include foosball and riding his three-wheel bike.
Dustin and Nancy’s journey has been a tough one with many obstacles, yet they continue to make significant strides. Their story is an inspiration to everyone at CNI, and Dustin’s team of therapists is confident his will to “live well” will lead to continuous success. With their story, this impressive mother and son team hopes to spread awareness for traumatic brain injury and safe driving.
About Colorado Neurological Institute
Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI) has been providing research, education and patient services for persons with neurological conditions and their caregivers since 1988. As the only nonprofit organization in the Rocky Mountain Region of its kind, CNI offer patients easy access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art care, support services, clinical trials, outpatient neuro-rehab, counseling and more. Learn more at www.thecni.org.