Youth Expects Research to Find a Cure for His Paralysis

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

Jason Armitage was 7 years old when his life changed.

He was running across a soccer field, chasing the ball, when he collided violently with another player.

At first, he appeared unharmed. He even finished the game.

Later he developed a terrible headache, so his mother took him to an emergency room. But doctors failed to correctly diagnose and treat his injuries.

Six weeks later, a blood clot triggered a massive stroke, which left Jason paralyzed from the nose down.

His last memory of life as it used to be was sitting on the front steps of his home, eating barbecue potato chips.

Jason later developed enough control of his hands to maneuver his electric wheelchair. His favorite hobby is playing PlayStation, the video game system, on which he loves to play Madden NFL. When he plays, he can simulate what it would be like to play quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The years immediately after Jason's stroke were a nightmare for his family. While his mother worked two jobs -- his father had vanished before his injury -- his four sisters helped care for him. Tasks most of us take for granted -- dressing, bathing, going to the bathroom -- all required assistance. After four years, a medical malpractice settlement made life a little easier for the Armitages. Jason's mom, Faye, was able to quit work and become his full-time caretaker.

The family moved to Jacksonville a couple of years ago because Faye Armitage liked the "small-town feeling with big-city amenities. …