Thursday, March 25, 2004

'Just happy to be alive,' but much more than that

In 1998, Devin Carr was in a monthlong coma Today, he's singing and dancing

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

Talawanda High School junior Devin Carr performs in the chorus in the school's musical Anything Goes during dress rehearsal Tuesday afternoon. Devin was hit by a car in October, 1998 and was in a coma before a long recovery.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/STEVEN M. HERPPICH
HANOVER TOWNSHIP - Just over five years ago Devin Carr was at the end of his driveway waiting for the Talawanda Middle School bus when a pickup truck lost control and hit him as his older brother watched.

Today, Devin, now 17 and a junior at Talawanda High School, will sing and tap dance as part of his school's chorus in Cole Porter's Anything Goes. It is something doctors never thought possible because of the severity of his head injury, broken neck and pelvis that sent him into a month-long coma and 10-week hospital stay.

"I'm just happy to be alive,'' Devin said.

Devin has finished physical therapy rehabilitation and resumed voice therapy at Miami University to strengthen his damaged vocal cords.

What: Cole Porter's Anything Goes.
When: The musical opens with a 5:30 p.m. dinner show today. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday..
Where: Talawanda High School, 101 W. Chestnut St., Oxford.
Tickets: $7, $5 students.
He sees himself as a normal teenager who teams up with his older brother to tease their younger brother, rides his dirt bike and hopes to attend Miami University and live on campus after he graduates next year.

There's nothing that he doesn't think he cando, said Dr. Ron Levin, director of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's Center for Infants and Children With Special Needs.

"He's outdistanced what we would have predicted he'd be able to do. It's miraculous."

But effects from the October 1998 accident linger. His left side is weaker, thinner than his right. He has lost some feeling on his right side. Devin's balance and coordination are off. He has learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder.

"I attribute his good outcome to being really smart before the accident," said his mother, Deanna. "He has the same drive as before. He just works a lot harder."

Through the ordeal, Carr said her close family has become even closer. Their faith and prayer chains pulled them through.

"After the second day I kept feeling this positive energy from Devin,'' his mother said. "We talked to him constantly when he was in the coma. Little by little he would come around. It was a slow progress, a long month.''

Drama director Ryan Steffen said he's seen steady progress since Devin's freshman year, when he sang in the school's production of Annie.

"He's got a lot more confidence speaking since that show," said Steffen. "He knows how to use his voice."

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