Monday, December 5, 2011

Trent Rivas the Stroke Survivor Magician

The Chicago Tribune ran a story yesterday about a severely brain-damaged stroke survivor who’s managed to become a professional magician.

According to the article, Trent Rivas suffered a traumatic stroke as an infant which damaged 85% of the right hemisphere of his brain.

“Doctors said Trent would live, but the future looked bleak: His ability to think abstractly was gone; the part of the brain that processes emotions was damaged; cerebral palsy would inhibit use of the left side of his body.”

Then, “about six years ago, Rivas began pulling off a trick that continues to amaze. He discovered magic, and it transformed him. It unlocked a part of his brain — a brain badly damaged at birth — and brought to life emotions and dexterity his awe-struck parents thought they'd never see.”

 “Trent is now 22. He works two days a week at P.J.'s Trick Shop in Arlington Heights. He performs at magic events near his home in Des Plaines and recently took third place in a magic competition. His life — the life in which he's engaged and chatty and laughing — is one of morning-to-night card tricks and levitating balls.”

When he’s not performing, though, Trent struggles to communicate and can’t read or write.

So what do we make of this?

My first thought is “what possibility have I not pursued?”  Is there some opportunity that I’ve ignored or passed over and should not have. I mean, who would have thought that Trent, given his medical assessment, could become a magician?

My second thought is that I continued to be amazed by the plasticity of the brain. How this stroke victim can pull off magical tricks in front of audiences, while he engages them in conversation, is indeed magical.

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