The Importance of Perseverance

Another story of resilience:

In March of 2007, Jeff Parelli suffered a car accident, in which a person pulled out in front of him. The injuries Parelli sustained resulted in a traumatic brain injury and complete paralysis of his left side.  For the first month, it was a struggle for Parelli to even dress himself, let alone to consider getting out of bed and skiing or hiking.  However, as soon as his daughter mentioned Parelli’s faithful pastime, it was the first time in a month that he sounded like his old self—able to remember facts and the identity of those who surrounded him far better than he had been able to up until that point.

Despite the myriad of injuries Parelli’s accident brought on, according to an Ski Magazine he had only two goals in mind in regards to his recovery; he wanted to ski and to hike at least one more time.  Over the course of seven years and including a combination of cognitive and physical therapy, Parelli was finally able to achieve his goal.  A wheelchair is needed daily for Parelli to maintain movement due to the complete paralysis on the left side.  However, he also has a full KAFO, which stands for a knee-ankle-foot orthesis; the full leg brace allows him to walk, hike and ski.

Jeff Parelli photo

Jeff Parelli, back on the trail.

His first trip through the snow was on an excursion to Mt. Snow in southern Vermont.  By this time, he had only had his KAFO for five months.  After the first run, he made some adaptations to the KAFO to keep the cold weather from causing it to lock; the device doing so would force Parelli to bail out, a very dangerous prospect for a skier with TBI that cannot suffer another head injury.  Parelli uses electrical tape, rubber jar grips and other various materials to help the cables bound to the hitches to the knee to keep the KAFO from locking in place.  Through these implementations, Parelli is able to ski at least twice a year for approximately three to four hours at a time.  Although he is forced to rest after each run, he is still able to engage in his favorite pastime, which, to Parelli, makes the whole expedition worth it.