Immediate Release: April 19, 2006
VESTAL, N.Y. - As a freshman David Streeten (Corning, N.Y./ Corning East) was the premier faceoff man on a Binghamton University lacrosse squad that was picked to finish sixth in the seven-team America East Conference. Instead, the Bearcats went unblemished in the regular season conference schedule, in only their third season as a varsity program. The accomplishments made during the season by Streeten and the Bearcats would become minute compared to those made by Streeten in his recovery from a horrific accident that happened the following summer.
On July 23, 2004, Streeten and several friends went cliff jumping in a Yates County gorge near his home. While there, Streeten was critically injured when he fell an estimated 40 feet, hitting his head on rocks on the way down. He was pulled from the water by friends who tended to him until a local fire department arrived on scene. Streeten was then flown via a medical helicopter to Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, New York with his life in peril.
Later that day he underwent major brain surgery to repair damaged brain tissue. A week later the neurosurgeon was surprised by the speed of his recovery. Some of the nurses even referred to him as "the miracle boy."
The rehabilitation process was and still is in progress. After two weeks at Arnot Ogden Medical Center, Streeten was transferred to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, a unit that specializes in head trauma.
"My first two weeks at St. Mary's, I was confined to a wheelchair because I could not really move my (left) leg or arm," Streeten said. "On the second day there the nurse told me 'David, we are going to walk today.' I grabbed the walker and started to walk in what I believe was the ugliest display of walking ever, but I was able to walk."
The road to recovery was going to take time and he would have to once again learn how to perform some of the most basic everyday actions while regaining strength and control of his left arm and leg.
"The first month (of rehab) was slow but by the end of it I had mastered climbing stairs," he said. "By the time I left the therapy in Rochester, they had me on a treadmill. The longest I could jog before getting winded was about a minute and a half."
Since then Streeten has worked hard to improve and regain as much of a "normal" life that he could have. Although it takes him much longer to complete simple tasks, he is slowly improving. Typing on the computer with two hands, a standard for most college students is a skill that Streeten is working on regaining. Currently he is trying to improve the dexterity in his left hand so that one day he can type with two hands.
After taking an entire year off from school to recover from the accident, Streeten returned to school in the fall of 2005. He was fortunate enough to have his younger brother, Duncan, who also plays lacrosse on the team, starting his freshman year at Binghamton the same semester.
"I don't know if coming back (to school) would have been so easy if Duncan was not here," he stated. "Since I live off campus, I was often in his room last semester writing or editing papers. Sometimes I even took naps in his room. He was always there to help me, even coming with me to get my books since I could not carry 14 books with one arm."
Support has been something Streeten has not lacked. From day one of the accident there has been a foundation of mental and physical support for the faceoff specialist.
"While doing my rehab, I saw people that were getting frustrated or depressed during their rehab," Streeten said. "This led to them having problems continuing their therapy. Where I had help from my family and friends to keep me focused on the rehab. I know I would not be where I am today without the immense support system had behind me."
The lacrosse team made sure Streeten knew that he was still part of the team even though he was home continuing his rehab. Several days after he got home from the hospital, the whole team traveled to his house and joined him for a barbeque. Throughout the year he was gone they kept in contact with him including calling him right after each game to let him know what happened.
"I can't say or do enough that will ever repay my family, friends and coaches who helped me get through the recovery process," he expressed emphatically. "I know I would not have recovered the way I have without them."
Those who are close to Streeten know that it is more than a miracle that he has been able to return to his current status. It was his drive that has led to his recovery.
"It's hard to put into words," head coach Ed Stephenson said referring to Streeten's accomplishments during his recovery. "Just seeing his starting point (after the accident) to where he is now is unbelievable. It is the same character, resolve and passion that made him successful on the field that have allowed him to progress to where he is now. He knows he still has a lot of work in front of him but we know he is capable."
The road to recovery has be slow for Streeten. Over a year and a half after the accident he has regained many of basic everyday abilities and functions but it has not been easy. Recently, he perfected tying his shoes with two hands, a task that most adults do not even think about when executing.
"I am trying to get back to whatever I am going to get back to," Streeten explained. "The doctors told me from the beginning. 'This is a brain injury, all bets are off. Every brain injury is different.' They told me that most people never regain everything."
His plans of playing lacrosse again may have been dealt a setback but his heart and mind are sharp and will carry him through life off the field. Streeten still hopes he can return to the field with a stick in his hand.
"I am still trying to do as much therapy as I can," he stated. "I still have the goal to come back and play (lacrosse). Whether or not I will be able to do that, I do not know. One way or another I am out there (as the manager) at practice freezing with five jackets on. There are definitely some things more important than lacrosse. If I can't play again, I still am able to eat, sleep, walk and get a job someday. That's better than the alternative."
Although his road to recovery has not ended, the "miracle boy" continues to strive for his goals in life, including graduating from Binghamton with a degree in marine biology. He may not be winning faceoffs but he is certainly winning at life.
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