Five years of persistence & determination!

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by Dave Nichols:

Dear OAS Community:

Just over five years ago I suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. It changed my life. I was rock climbing in the in the Cascades of Central Washington and I fell. My Glasgow Coma score was 3, so severe the doctors gave us little hope, and encouraged my parents to have me donate my organs.

When I came out of the coma in Seattle, I was airlifted to Craig Hospital in Colorado where I did 5 months of intensive inpatient and outpatient rehab. Because I had always been active in the wilderness, Craig made therapeutic recreation a central part of my early program. Though I was still in a wheelchair my therapists took me rock climbing and ice fishing.

When I came home to Portland, I learned about Oregon Adaptive Sports (OAS) and made their programs a part of my ongoing recovery.  Through the recreational activities at OAS I built confidence doing things outdoors that motivated me before my accident.

Looking back, I am very lucky to be alive, very grateful for all the opportunities I have had, and thrilled to see the payoffs. At our last visit, my doctor said she saw even more improvement in me this time than last time! I love making progress. Getting better feels great! Five years after my injury, I am still pumped to continue with occupational, speech and physical therapies twice a week.

Some of the milestones of my journey are as follows:

Year 1

Returned home from Craig, transitioned from wheelchair to walker, started rock climbing with PDX Adaptive Climbing

Year 2

Transitioned to two-wheeled walker, began walking with trekking poles. Mountain biking with OAS! Fly fishing with Camp Bullwheel.

Year 3

Began walking independently with a walker. Began solo kayaking, skied with OAS. 

Year 4

Moved into a basement apartment with huge gains in independence. More skiing and biking with OAS. Began work in marketing.

Year 5

The sky’s the limit! Outdoor rock climbing, walking, driving, living and working more independently.

Watch Dave’s five year celebration video here!

I have said it before, it feels like I’m in a self-fulfilling loop. I have committed to myself that I will work hard if I see progress. I have worked hard, and I have made quite a bit of progress, but I know I can get even better. And so, I will continue to work hard in hopes of making more progress.


Dave Nichols

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Photo of Dave with a group of athletes from Craig Hospital and the message "Thank you for empowering athletes of all abilities!"