Injured football player out of coma, improving everday

JERSEY SHORE — The holidays aren’t yet here, but the Leone family has already begun to celebrate Thanksgiving, thanking God and rejoicing at the amazing improvement their 17-year-old son is making after a tragic accident on the football field in August.

And their Christmas wish this year contains only one item — that Caleb makes a fully recovery.

Some are calling it a miracle, and nobody will argue with that assumption, as the teen who suffered traumatic brain damage and remained in a coma for weeks, is making significant progress at the Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital in Hummelstown.

“He’s really showing daily progress. He’s out of the coma completely. He’s engaging in therapy and doing something new almost every day. He knows all of us and people who come to see him. He’s eating a little pureed food by mouth and that’s really exciting. The more we get him to eat… then the feeding tube will come out. That’s the last thing to come out,” Danielle Leone reported this week, her voice strong and showing more optimism than before.

“We know there’s still a long road ahead… but we’re definitely moving in the right direction,” she said.

And there was more good news from Caleb’s mom this week.

In early November he’ll be returning to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville to have a piece of his skull put back in place. A portion of Caleb’s skull on the left side of his head was removed to allow room as the brain swelled. Now that the swelling has gone down, the skull can be put back in place, she said.

“We should see bigger things after that,” Danielle said.

She explained that the damaged area of Caleb’s brain is the portion that affects motor skills and memory, and that’s where the extensive therapy he is getting is directed. After the injury, Danielle said Caleb suffered a stroke and he’s also recovering from that.

His therapy schedule is consistent. He gets up at about 7:45 a.m. and heads off to therapy, comes back in the early afternoon for a rest until dinner. Then it’s back for more therapy until bedtime.

” ‘They’re keeping him busy and we see the progress that’s being made,” she continued, showing photos of Caleb kicking a football and picking up checker-like discs with his fingers and placing them in designated spaces on a special rack.

Doctors aren’t saying how long Caleb will remain in thereapy there and how far it will take him.

But there’s been talk he could go home to Jersey Shore for Thanksgiving, Danielle said.

And that’s when Caleb’s mom will take over some of his therapy.

She said it’s good that he is still considered a pediatric patient because that means she can remain in his room 24-7.

“I’ve slept on a cot beside his bed every night since we got here and they’ve allowed me to participate in all of his therapies so I can do them with him when we get home,” she said.

Although anxious for him to come home, Danielle said, “Caleb is getting the best care possible here… and it’s working. We want him to stay here as long as it takes.”

Danielle was quick to thank everyone who has been supporting them through this ordeal — all the donations and prayers — and the support from both her and her husband Jake’s employers.

Jake has been back to work for some time, spending the weekends with Caleb and Danielle. But Fisher Insurance Agency hasn’t seen Danielle since the accident.

“They’re just wonderful. I’m forever grateful to them for allowing me to be here where I need to be… with my son,” she said.

There are still a lot of unknowns as Caleb continues to recover, and the family is asking that the prayers continue.

But one thing is certain.

The holidays are going to be more wonderful than ever for the Leone family this year.

You Can Help:

Send a card and let Caleb know you are thinking about him. Here’s his address:

Caleb Leone

Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital

1135 W. Old Chocolate Ave.,

Hummelstown, Pa. 17036

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