Brandon's Story: Playing Music Once Again
In May 2017, Brandon Ray was rushed into surgery to save his life after he suffered a ruptured aorta, the major artery that carries blood from the heart. He underwent surgery at a Houston-area hospital, and during the surgery, he suffered a major stroke. Shortly following the surgery he had several acute strokes. Although he survived, he lost his ability to walk, speak and, most importantly, to sing. He has been a musician for most of his life, and, up until that point, he had been working as a semi-professional singer in the Houston area.
But with the love of his wife and help from the specialists at TIRR Memorial Hermann, Brandon has found his voice again and is sharing it on stage once more.
“My wife has been my biggest fan and my champion from the beginning,” said Brandon. “Once I was medically stable, she insisted that I be transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann.”
After leaving acute care, Brandon went to TIRR Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center to begin his rehabilitation. He then transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann–The Woodlands, which was closer to his home. When he arrived at TIRR Memorial Hermann–The Woodlands, Brandon was just beginning to walk and stand. He was unable to use his right arm and he could not see out of his right eye. He had physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy and speech therapy as part of his recovery.
"His quality of life was very poor. He's a musician and loves singing, but not being able to use his voice and sing was heartbreaking for him. But through therapy, he has done great things and was able to return to singing," said Lindsey Duckworth, SLP.
His occupational therapist, Oscar Dayaon, OTR, added, “Brandon is a hard-working young man who is goal oriented and has a ‘never-give-up attitude’. Among other goals, we worked on his return to leisure, like singing his songs and playing his guitar again. Not only did he play his guitar and sing, but he played and sang for everyone in the clinic! He is such an inspiration.”
After 6 weeks as an inpatient, Brandon had learned how to walk and had regained the use of his right arm. He transitioned to outpatient therapy and visited several TIRR Memorial Hermann locations, including TIRR Memorial Hermann–The Woodlands and TIRR Memorial Hermann–Greater Heights Outpatient Rehabilitation. At each location he continued to make progress.
“I started listening to recordings of myself before my stroke,” said Brandon. “That was when I realized how much I missed singing. So, my therapists helped me find new ways for me to play my guitar.”
He wrote a song, with the lyrics, “I lost my voice late last May… without a choice, I lost my voice…” and practiced it relentlessly.
He was discharged from outpatient therapy in September 2018, and today he continues to sing and play music. One of the organizations he performs with is ReelAbilities Houston, a citywide film and arts festival dedicated to showcasing films, art exhibitions, performances and speakers that celebrate the lives, stories and talents of people with disabilities.
When he is not playing music, he can be found spending time with his wife and family and playing with his rescue dogs.
“All of the therapists that I worked with at TIRR Memorial Hermann were wonderful,” said Brandon. “Their combined efforts made my recovery more efficient and effective. They treated me how I know I deserved to be treated!”