PHOENIX, AZ — Almost two years after the small plane crash that nearly killed him, a Valley man is back on his feet.
Brody Burnell's had a tough recovery, but he's still cracking jokes. The 20-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury after the crash in August of 2017.
The plane Burnell was flying with his friend, Chandler, suffered mechanical issues and smashed into a tree just after takeoff from the Deer Valley Airport.
"I got myself dressed, showered last night myself, fed my own dogs, fed myself, and do everything on my own now," said Burnell. "A lot of progress since the day my plane came crashing down.”
“It’s easy again to forget how far he’s come, but video was a nice way to see, 'oh my gosh you’ve come so far and you have so much more to give,'" said Laura Baumert, Burnell's physical therapist at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
Baumert says Burnell came into the hospital wheel-chair bound and it took months for him to regain his strength to walk on his own two feet. He uses a walker and cane now, but the goal is to have Burnell walking on his own by his 21st birthday.
"It’s just repetition and practice, practice, practice," she added. "I think that the thing we are able to give him is tips for him to improve his posture, to improve his stepping, to make him do it more normally so that he can do it without any difficulty for the rest of his life.”
Every day, Burnell surprises his doctors and his family.
“I am super proud of him, super encouraged, and I am, can’t wait to see where we are at the end of 19," said Steve Burnell, Brody's dad.
“We were confident from the beginning that we were going to get our boy back. So am I surprised? No. Am I grateful? Yes.”