Greenwood still improving

Glenda Greenwood said she has been busy – doing homework.

However, Greenwood isn’t referring to hitting the books; rather, she has been scoping out programs for her son, Justin Greenwood, to get involved in. It’s been more than a year and a half since Justin, a former Blugold linebacker, suffered a traumatic brain injury during a Sept. 27, 2003 football game.

“He’s making progress,” she said. “With brain injury … you just have to take one day at a time. We’re still early in the recovery.”

She said having to wait for openings in programs like the one he currently is in and for insurance approval sometimes delays Justin’s progress.

“I think the biggest time factor in brain injury is having to wait for all these programs,” Greenwood said. “You stay kind of on a plateau. You don’t keep moving.”

Justin participates in a program focused on community independent skills at TBI Metro Services in Richfield, Minn., which specializes in employment and education for adults with brain injuries.

These skills include riding the bus and making a menu and a grocery list, and Justin practices them from 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday mornings and all day on Wednesday.

Justin’s name also is on a waiting list for a peacework job, or a basic job, which is like working on an assembly line creating tablecloth holders.

“It’s a repetition thing,” she said of the job. “People with brain injury have short-term memory. Repetitive work is helpful.”

It’s also important for Justin to keep a planner, Greenwood said, calling it “the key to his life.”

Justin said because he knows using his planner is important, he writes in it everyday.

“It kind of helps me with my memory,” he said. “It kind of replaces my memory.”

Greenwood said Justin does remember a lot and is able to concentrate.

“His memory is pretty good, I think, for his brain injury,” she said.

Senior Nels Fredrickson, who Justin said he loves like a brother, attested Justin’s memory has returned.

“He’s talking about when he was playing football … how he’s doing in the cities,” he said.

Another program Greenowood is looking into is Vision Loss Resource in Minneapolis that trains him to recognize his surroundings, “so maybe someday he’ll walk to the gas station to get a pop and get home,” she said.

Justin has tunnel vision so he can see six inches in front of him and has no peripheral vision.

“If he was looking at you, he can see your head and shoulders, and that’s kind of how much he sees,” she said. “He’s been training and working on moving his head and searching his environment.”

However, this tunnel vision does make it easier for Justin to keep his eye on his golf ball during golf lessons.

“He’s really excited about (taking golf lessons), because with his tunnel vision, he can see his ball,” she said. “He can’t take his eye off it; otherwise he can’t see the ball.”

Greenwood said she hopes to enter him into tournaments.

“I love it,” Justin said. “It’s really good being active again. It just brings back some memories … in sports, because I was in sports. It just feels good to get back involved with stuff again.”

Justin also works out three times per week – twice at the YMCA and once for a half hour at the Courage Center.

Josh Greenwood, Justin’s brother, said it’s great for Justin to be involved.

“Everything he does is brain-stimulating,” he said.

Josh also mentioned his brother’s state of mind.

“I don’t know how I’d be able to handle what he’s going through,” he said. “The fact he stays so positive is the fact I stay sane. He’s just happy to be alive, so it makes it easier (for) me.”

Justin said he just wants to keep moving forward.

“I just use my planner and look into different programs I can get into, just to keep making progress.”