NILS Grimley fought his way back from a coma after a devastating car accident, but two years on a problem with his jaw meant talking and eating still eluded him.Doctors told Mr Grimley the problem was neurological.
But a dentist determined the problem was mechanical and a referral from a specialist surgeon in Western Australia, where Mr Grimley’s accident occurred, led him to Lake Macquarie.
Charlestown oral and maxillofacial surgeon Michael Bowler took on the case.
Dr Bowler inserted a titanium jaw joint two weeks ago.
In most cases, a patient has the damaged joint removed, with the piece used to model a replacement.
The patient’s jaw is then wired until the artificial joint is inserted in another surgery.
But because Mr Grimley’s jaw was not broken, Dr Bowler was able to have the replacement joint made before surgery and remove and replace the section in one operation.
A fortnight later, Mr Grimley, 35, can already open his mouth twice as wide as before and can eat again.
Mr Grimley was in a coma for two weeks after his accident.
He was on his way home from basketball when a drunk driver ran a red light and hit his car.
It followed the death of his brother Emrys in 1992, who was killed in an almost identical car accident in Western Australia when a drugged driver ran a red light.
On waking from the coma, Nils could not even control his blinking.
With help from parents, Laurelle and John, who stretched his limbs, talked and played nature documentaries to stimulate Mr Grimley’s mind, he slowly regained movement.
Mr Grimley’s dedication to rehabilitation and exercise has also aided his recovery.
‘‘I never give in,’’ he said.
‘‘To me, this is for now.
‘‘But I want to go back to a normal.’’
Dr Bowler said Mr Grimley was an inspiration.
‘‘For anyone with a brain injury who’s had a car accident, he’s just exemplary. He’s a role model.’’