The son of David Hulse, a former Major League outfielder, Jaxon Hulse—now 17—tinkered with music before becoming completely enamored with soccer. “Once he hit the soccer field, there was simply no catching him,” says Helen Hulse, his mother.
At 14, Jaxon sustained his first soccer-related concussion trying to head the ball. He had a second concussion 10 months later.
And then in 2011, while Jaxon was a freshman at Grapevine High School near Dallas, things took a violent turn: As he chatted with three girls in the hallway, another student came from behind, wrapped his arms around Jaxon and body-slammed him. Jaxon landed on his backpack, snapping his head back. He was unconscious and momentarily paralyzed. Immediately taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, he was treated for a concussion and serious bruising and hemorrhaging of his spinal cord.
Eventually Jaxon rejoined his high school soccer team. But in August 2012, during practice, another player took a hard shot on goal, which deflected off his head. Jaxon experienced concussion-like symptoms for three to four days. He returned to the team, but the next month a player tackled him from behind, sending his head whiplashing forward. He had sustained yet another concussion.
Things went from bad to worse for Jaxon in November 2012 when he passed out in a hospital hallway following a quick steroid shot, having suffered a small brain hemorrhage. Doctors were very strict, instructing him to never again play contact sports. “At this point,” he recalls, “I was feeling very alone, disconnected from everything and just very sad.”
“Jaxon never got to the point where he talked about taking his life,” Helen says. “But we were all very scared for him. He was in a very, very dark mood, sad, depressed, never smiling.”
Later that fall the family heard about the local Carrick Brain Centers facility and its multidisciplinary approach to helping patients in the aftermath of repeated brain injuries. By the end of 2012, Jaxon was a full-fledged patient.
His Carrick therapy began with goggles fitted over his eyes and attached to a computer monitor. He was instructed to watch a series of dots move across and up and down on a screen. A second test was a balance exam, where he stood on a foam cushion with his eyes first open and then closed—always connected to a computer monitoring his balance.
Jaxon was strapped into The Chair, which gently spun him around, upside down, backward, forward and sideways, in a manner determined by previous measurement of his eye movement and equilibrium. “I wasn’t scared, but excited,” he says. “And after my first few sessions on that machine, I was actually starting to feel happy again.”
In addition to Jaxon’s treatments in the facility, Carrick recommended he take a number of all-natural dietary supplements to help his injured brain produce certain endorphins. Citing a poor diet’s effect on short-term brain function and long-term brain health, Carrick doctors also prompted Jaxon to avoid all nitrites and nitrates—no cold cuts, sausage or bacon; no MSG, found in almost everything from a box.
“We saw immediate results,” Helen says. “He was like a different kid. He smiled. David and I practically started crying when he started to joke with us. At school he’s getting all A’s. He became so self-motivated, very intellectual—he’s reading Socrates and Plato, even teaching himself French. We are thrilled. What Carrick Brain Centers did for Jaxon was not only repair the physical aspect of what was going on in his brain, but then psychologically, started getting him to feel that there is hope.”
“I really believe Carrick has given me a new beginning, almost a new life,” Jaxon says. “They are now part of who I am.”
And Carrick might have reunited Jaxon with his beloved soccer. He plans to play for his high school team as a junior in January.
Ever since Dan Moran was a little boy growing up in the Houston area, he had a burning ambition to wear the uniform of a U.S. Marine.
“Oh yes,” recalls Moran, now 32 (pictured below). “I remember going to the veterans’ cemetery every Memorial Day with my dad and the first time I saw a Marine in his dress blues.”
By the time Moran graduated from Texas A&M University he had already been through the school’s ROTC program and a platoon leader’s course. He eventually entered the Marines’ officer candidate school in Quantico, Va.
Around Christmas 2004, Moran was shipped off to Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was recently married to his wife, Teal, and they were expecting their first child. Only months later, in March 2005, Moran was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, during the height of the struggle with insurgents in that country. He redeployed to Ramadi, Iraq, in September 2006 after being promoted to first lieutenant. Moran would know heavy fighting nearly every day. “It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he says.
On the night of Oct. 21, 2006, Moran’s life changed forever. He and his men were providing security to another unit, and as his jeep rolled through an intersection, the enemy exploded three 155 mm artillery shells mixed with homemade napalm. Three fellow Marines died instantly from the blast, and Moran suffered his second wartime concussion in addition to third-degree burns over half his body. He lost his spleen and fractured his back in multiple places.
His Marine dream halted forever, Moran was flown out of Iraq and ended up in one of America’s elite burn units at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. “As I was making my recovery from my brain injury,” Moran says, “what was frustrating was that while I could feed myself and talk, I still lacked any short-term memory, I had trouble sleeping, I was short-tempered, and lacked depth perception…. At a certain stage of my recovery, there had to be some additional approaches I could try.”
So Moran says that “to get across the finish line,” he sought out Carrick in September.
He came to Carrick’s North Texas facility for the typical weeklong treatment regimen and departed pleased by Carrick’s holistic approach. He hasn’t had any nerve pain since being taken off his longtime medication, and after cutting back on his once-steady diet of Diet Coke and red meat, he has felt much better.
“My brain is really working better,” Moran says. “My depth perception is to the point where I’m not running into furniture the way I used to.” His short-term memory has improved a lot, Moran confirms. “I’m still writing some things down, but I’m retaining so much more than I used to.”
The improved short-term memory is vital, given his position as the head of his family’s private equity and management consulting business. “I’m just able to multitask so much better,” Moran says. “And this is coming from one of the most skeptical people you would ever meet in your entire life.”
Matt Kriesel remembers vividly the moment when his 72-year-old mother Rosalie Kriesel first showed signs of fast-encroaching dementia.
“It was this past April, while she was attending the first confirmation party for my two sons,” Matt recalls. “Everyone was there, and Mom just sat on the couch, no expression, no laughter, no personality, essentially not saying a word.”
Rosalie had fallen far, in an alarmingly short time span, from a life of helping her husband run the family dairy farm in Melrose, Wis., and tending to a huge garden.
“Her personality had really changed,” Matt says. “She stopped arguing with my father in that way longtime couples do. She stopped watching her favorite channel, Fox News. She cut down all her community activity. In essence, she was just fading away.”
This gradual decline in Rosalie’s quality of life continued until this past April when Matt’s friends recommended Carrick Brain Centers. He rushed to set up his mother’s first appointment.
Beginning the five-day examination and therapy period with Rosalie, Carrick did the full diagnostic battery of tests. The septuagenarian took a roughly 20-minute ride in The Chair, moving forward and back, upside down and in a circle. “By the next day, I already noticed some real changes,” Matt says. “She noticed that the boats in the parking lot near our hotel had been moved. There is no way in the world that my mother would have noticed those things before.”
And Rosalie’s personality began slowly regaining its old form very soon thereafter. “When we went back to Carrick four weeks after the first visit, she was joking with all the doctors,” her son says. The positive results have seemed to continue at home for Rosalie, as she is now a bundle of activity, mowing the lawn, talking away on her cellphone and even driving again.
Matt becomes overjoyed as he does an inventory of the positive results. “My mother’s appetite has come back,” he says. “She is smiling more than ever. She’s able to work in her garden, and she’s renewed her interest in politics.
“There’s no question now,” Matt says. “Carrick has changed our family’s life.”