Zoey Bynum, the 14-year-old Maryville girl who was thrown from the bed of a truck last month, will be moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation center this week.
“They’re hopeful for her rehab, but they’re not sure how it’s gonna go,” Bynum’s father, Tim Bynum, said.
Bynum, her stepbrother and a friend had just left Sandy Springs Park when the 16-year-old driver swerved to miss a deer on Ferris Road on Oct. 15. Bynum was flung from the back of the truck.
Bynum was taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center and remained there since.
She was diagnosed with Diffuse Axonal Injury, Tim Bynum said. DAI, which affects the brain stem, is a type of traumatic brain injury — one of the leading causes of death and disability in children and young adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Bynum, who originally was not expected to make it through the night, has since made huge strides in recovery, Tim Bynum said. Though she is unable to talk or eat, she is opening her eyes.
“She’s making small improvements daily,” her father said. “Sometimes there’s more of her there and sometimes it’s less.”
Bynum was moved from the intensive care unit to a regular hospital room two weeks ago.
This week, she will be transported by ambulance to a rehabilitation center in Atlanta — the closest center to Blount County that offers rehab for pediatric brain injury, said Bynum’s stepmother, Susan Bynum.
Both her mother and father will accompany Bynum to Atlanta, where she will undergo physical, occupational and speech therapy that could take anywhere from two weeks to two months, Tim Bynum said.
For the past month, Tim and Susan Bynum as well as Bynum’s mother have been taking shifts to ensure someone is at the hospital with Bynum at all times, Tim Bynum said.
As far as what will happen after rehab, Tim Bynum says it depends on Bynum’s progress.
“The doctors don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.
To help with Zoey’s medical bills, a coworker of Susan Bynum set up a GoFundMe account.
“Tim Bynum, who is a Navy veteran, has now had his world flipped completely upside down and slammed to the ground in the blink of an eye,” the GoFundMe account description states. “Not only seeing his daughter go through this, he now has to carry the financial responsibility of her medical bills.”
As of Monday, the Team Zoey GoFundMe account had raised $1,060 of its $10,000 goal.
“If (people) want to help monetarily, the GoFundMe is the best way to do it,” Tim Bynum said.
The Bynum family, however, is mostly asking for the community’s prayers, saying they’ve worked so far, Tim Bynum said.
“We are hopeful for her future recovery, but there’s no guarantee,” he said.
Those interested may donate by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/f/apzrra-team-zoey.