Doctors warn Halstead family of long-term effects

ATLANTA — Tripp Halstead's parents learned this weekend that he may never be the same due to the brain damage he suffered.

"They gave us a full spectrum of recovery left, but they said pretty much don't expect him to be the same exact kid as he was before," said Tripp's father Bill Halstead.

Tripp's parents told Channel 2's Carl Willis they were already preparing themselves for that possibility, but got the news from a neurosurgeon Sunday.

"I can't really think about how he was or how he's going to be," said Tripp's mother Stacy Halstead. "I just focus on every single day."

Tripp was playing outside his Winder day care last month when winds from Superstorm Sandy knocked down a tree limb, which hit him in the head.

The Halsteads said their son should be able to relearn certain functions, but parts of his personality may be gone due to brain damage.

Still, they said he made progress within the past two days. They said even a millimeter of progress feels like a mile.

"He has so many less tubes and IV (lines), so we do get to hold him which is the greatest thing ever," said Stacy Halstead.

"We still don't know if he knows who we are but we like to think that he does," she said. "We are getting him up now. They're letting us hold his little head and his body up and they put him in a wheelchair, a recline wheelchair but it was just amazing to see him out of that bed."

The family also found inspiration in a stranger, when Jessica Thompson visited them in the hospital.

Thompson received a brain injury during a car accident in 2006. She was in a coma and partially paralyzed, and doctors said she'd never be the same and would never return to college.

Still, she made a remarkable recovery, and told the Halsteads Tripp could make the same comeback.

"She just said always tell him he is going to walk, he is going to talk, he will ride his bike again," said Stacy Halstead. "The doctors set limits and she would pass those limits, and she was very inspiring."