Sprained Ankle Leads to Brain Injury

When Dave Nash sprained his ankle while playing volleyball, it seemed like nothing more than a minor injury. Little did he know that this injury would lead to a rare brain disorder.

Dave and Kendra Nash

Dave and Kendra Nash

Dave visited his local Emergency Department in Brantford immediately following the accident on April 11, 2015. As with any other sprain, Dave was told to apply ice and allow time for the ankle to heal. During a follow-up appointment with his physician on April 20, an Ultrasound revealed a blood clot in his ankle, but the doctor assured him that it was only minor and required nothing more than an over-the-counter painkiller.

Three days later, Dave collapsed suddenly at his home.

“His eyes were closed, his skin was white and his tongue was sticking out,” recalls Dave’s wife Kendra. “I called 911 and he was rushed to our hospital in Brantford.”

Dave flatlined in the ambulance, then two more times upon arrival at the Emergency Department. The blood clot had moved from his ankle to his vital organs and the clot had become so large that it was preventing his heart from beating and his lungs from processing oxygen. The clot was eventually dispersed with medication, but the resulting brain damage would have significant ongoing effects.

During his nine days in the Intensive Care Unit, Dave began to experience nonstop tremors throughout his body, and his limbs would thrash violently in response to the slightest external stimuli.

“I couldn’t control any of it. Even if something softly brushed my leg, I’d suddenly kick hard.”
– Dave Nash

When the doctors in Brantford were unable to offer a diagnosis, Dave was transferred to Hamilton General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an extremely rare condition called Lance-Adams Syndrome. Only 151 cases of this condition are known. Lance-Adams Syndrome is characterized by spasmodic jerking of muscles after a patient has undergone successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“Basically, my brain is angry at my body for going so long without oxygen,” he explains. “Since I couldn’t stop the tremors, I couldn’t walk, shower, or eat on my own any more. I had to learn how to do those things all over again and retrain my brain’s pathways.”

Doctors were able to treat Dave’s tremors successfully with medication and he was transferred to the Acquired Brain Injury Program at the Regional Rehabilitation Centre to work with therapists. With only a few months until the expected birth of his first child, Dave was highly determined to regain motor skills, muscle strength and balance.

“He’s very motivated, which is half the battle,” says Mariella DeRenzis, one of Dave’s rehabilitation therapists. “He was driven to get better so he could get back to doing everything he was able to do prior to the accident.”

Dave returned home at the end of June, his ongoing recovery surpassing all expectations.

“The level of care was phenomenal,” he says, reflecting on his days at Hamilton General Hospital and the Regional Rehabilitation Centre. “People should make it a priority to give donations because hospitals need money for special equipment to treat patients. A brain injury could happen to anyone, and you never know when you’ll need assistance.”