In 1997, 16-year-old Alicia Payne suffered a traumatic brain injury when a truck slammed her car into a tree as she drove home from a band competition in Oklahoma. Doctors refused to even discuss the results of her MRI and CT scans. Instead, they told Payne’s grieving parents that their young daughter was going to die. Payne sustained a traumatic brain injury on both sides of her brain, and the prognosis was not good, a Daily O’Collegian article reported.
Payne remained in a coma for a month, emerging from it just in time to celebrate Christmas with her family. After a brief but challenging 11 weeks, Payne had recovered enough to leave the hospital. Now, over 12 years later, she is attending Oklahoma State University and earning a Bachelor of Science in health education and promotion.
The girl’s new aim in life is to improve conditions for those with disabilities and to help lend more power to the voice of those in need. The article reported that she acts on her new priorities by, ‘creating a way for students to meet, share ideas and educate others about what it means to live life while combating disabilities.’ She has formed a group at OSU called Increasing Leadership Empowering Advocates with Disabilities (ILEAD) in order to show students with disabilities that they have more power and ability than they may have previously believed.
Payne isn’t new to this kind of work. In 2002, she attended Rose State College and organized the TBI Raiders with fellow TBI survivor Ashley Washsauen. The group provides an Internet based group for TBI sufferers to connect and share with one another. In 2004, she attended the National Youth with Disabilities Leadership program in Washington D.C. In 2005, she went back to D.C. as an advocate for the National Youth Leadership Network, continuing to make her tireless efforts to support others struggling to thrive after a brain injury.
Payne was recently acknowledged by the Oklahoma House of Representatives for her outstanding work to raise awareness and share information with other students with and without TBI about how to better assist TBI sufferers in Oklahoma and beyond. We applaud Alicia Payne for her hard work toward improving the quality of life for herself and many others.
Oxford, Melissa. (March 24, 2010) ‘Student overcomes traumatic brain injury.’ Retrieved on March 30, 2010 from the Daily O’Collegian Web site: http://www.ocolly.com/news/student-overcomes-traumatic-brain-injury-1.12…