On Thanksgiving weekend 2002, Russ Wardlow’s future looked bright. He was about to complete an economics degree at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Recently he had been promoted to a job he loved, as manager of the clubhouse at the Raritan Valley Country Club, in charge of all food and beverage.
But on Nov. 30 his life changed. That evening Russ did not see the dead dark colored deer on the unlit road. After striking the deer his car went into a ditch. Russ suffered severe head injuries and had an obstructed airway which deprived him of oxygen for a period of time.
Russ has made miraculous progress in his recovery. When he left Robert Wood Johnson Neuro-Surgical Intensive Care Unit on December 23, 2002, Russ could only move his left hand and right foot slightly. He could not even move his eyes properly. When he opened his eyes they were fixed straight ahead unable to look left or right. By May 22, 2003, thanks to the treatment Russ received from Kessler Institute, Russ was able to climb the stairs at graduation, and walk with a cane across the stage to accept his Rutgers diploma.
In the four years since his accident Russ has continued to work very hard to recover impaired cognitive skills and regain his ability to speak. Russ continued to work hard in speech therapy despite the fact that he was making limited progress for many months. Recently that determination has begun to pay off. Russ is now making some progress and is finally able to say a limited number of words. For the last year and a half Russ has been in a very intense cognitive rehabilitation program in New York City.