Seth Brunett’s life changed drastically on May 23, 2016 – and if the fundraiser his mother started last week is successful – his life will again change drastically.
Luling’s Terry Madere, his wife Dawn and their son Seth were traveling to Nicholls State University for Seth’s college orientation four years ago when they were involved in a head-on collision that left all of them seriously injured.
“Like they say with accidents, in a blink of an eye … simultaneously, it appeared there was a car on my dashboard,” Terry said. “(The other driver) fell asleep and crossed over the line … I remember feeling the impact. It felt like a horror movie.”
Seth was nearly “cut in half” by his seatbelt, Terry said, adding his son suffered damage to his abdomen and severed nerves at his spine, leading to his right arm being paralyzed.
Although that day Seth lost all function of his right arm, he didn’t lose his fight.
“Seth fought for his life in the hospital, and he then fought for some sense of normalcy at Touro with endless hours in a physical therapy rehab hospital learning how to be self-sufficient with one arm – which was not his dominant,” Dawn said.
Seth was given a glimmer of hope when a specialist from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota conducted a nerve graft surgery in attempts to help him regain some sort of function. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful.
“I wake up every morning with a reminder that I will no longer be able to do so many things,” Seth said. “It hurts sometimes, but I don’t allow it to define and restrict who I am.”
Three years after the accident, one of Dawn’s friends stumbled upon a Facebook advertisement for Myomo Co., a company that makes the MyoPro – a removable robotic arm.
Within weeks of Dawn filling out a contact form on the Myomo website, a company representative was at her home to see if the device would work for Seth.
“MyoPro is a powered arm and hand orthosis designed to help Seth restore function to the paralyzed upper extremities,” Dawn said. “The MyoPro may also facilitate rehabilitation, including muscle re-education and increasing range of motion.”
While wearing the MyoPro, Seth is in complete control of his hand, wrist, elbow and arm. The robotic arm brace amplifies weak muscle signals to help move the upper limb.
“It has been called ‘power steering for your arm,” Dawn said, adding the MyoPro is the only wearable robotic device available to help restore function for those who still have their arms and hands but are unable to use them.
“There were instant results,” she said of when Seth tried the robotic arm on nearly a year ago.
Ever since the day Seth tried it on, Dawn has been in a fight of her own.
“We’ve been fighting with the insurance company to try to get them to pay for it,” she said. “They’ve completely denied it. I told Seth from the beginning that if insurance wouldn’t cover it, I would do everything I could to get it for him.”
The robotic arm carries an $80,000 price tag.
“It would open up so many doors to being able to do so much more,” Seth said of the device. “It would take a while to understand how it fully operates and the limits of what it can do, but the possibilities that live behind it are invaluable to me.”
Dawn said Seth has always had a love for music, so much so that it earned him three scholarships to Nicholls.
“He played the saxophone as a young child and loved drum lessons and was learning to play a snare and now all that’s been stripped from him because he’s got a completely dead arm,” Dawn said. “He’s an amazing child and it’s a miracle that he’s alive.”
Seth said he is a musician at heart.
“To be able to play more music again would be so amazing,” he said.
Dawn started a Facebook fundraiser for Seth, named Re-Arming Seth, this week with the goal to raise the $80,000 needed for the device. A Venmo account named Rearming-Seth1 has also been set up to receive donations.
“He doesn’t like to make a martyr out of himself and he doesn’t want to seem like a charity case,” Dawn said. “He’s just an amazing kid. He’s never asked for anything he didn’t really need.”
Seth said it was easy to think of what he would want to do first if he were able to purchase the device and again be able to have use of both arms.
“Honestly, hug my friends and family,” he said.