CARLSBAD — Many Carlsbad residents remember their friends and neighbors the McFarland family and continue to support and follow the recovery of the three McFarland children for the past two years, especially young Ian. He still needs private therapy costing $4,500 a week and leg braces costing $3,500.
A special benefit, “Ian Will Surf Again,” is planned from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dec. 12 at the Bareback Grille 624 E St. in downtown San Diego. The evening will feature live music by Graceland, organic burgers, drinks, wine-tasting, drawings and vendors with 10 percent of all sales, drawing and raffle proceeds going to Ian.
“For a 6-year-old with a traumatic brain injury, he has a spirit that all of us can aspire to, from the jokes he recites to the love in his eyes and the sweet smile he wears on his face,” sponsors of the event said. “We cannot bring back his parents, but we can bring back his childhood. Ian will surf again.”
On July 3, 2008, Tod and Stephanie McFarland and their three children, Ian, then 5; Lauren, then 2; and Luke, then 1, headed out from Carlsbad on a road trip. They were going to attend the wedding of Stephanie’s cousin in Boulder, Colo., but they never made it. A car accident claimed the lives of Tod and Stephanie and left all three of their children injured to varying degrees.
While Luke and Lauren’s injuries were minimal, Ian sustained severe head trauma and has been labeled as having a diffuse axonal brain injury. Last year at this time when Ian was released from the hospital, he demonstrated decreased postural control (inability to sit upright independently), diplopia (double vision), moderate radial nerve injury of his left arm (increasing maximal neglect of his left arm for functional tasks), inability to initiate a step with his left leg, inability to read, among many other set backs. He couldn’t process what he was seeing and had to start school legally blind doing all of his work through touch, he still had his feeding tube for his meds, and until April 2009, he couldn’t voluntarily move his left side.
The left side neglect also affected his vision and last May he couldn’t find shapes on the left side of the table. One doctor’s report from Utah said, “unlikely recovery.” Yet Ian continues to defy the odds solely due to the generous amounts of therapy that he has received. Ian is now able to read sight words with his double vision decreasing, voluntarily move his left arm to initiate functional tasks, walk on the treadmill with maximum assist by the therapist for 15 minutes, tell jokes, ride on a boogie board in the ocean with maximum assist, and partake in more activities with each amount of progress he makes.
“Ian’s therapy is in direct correlation to his outcome,” his physician confirmed. His physical, speech, occupational, vision, and cognitive therapists all agree, saying Ian is resilient, perceptive, determined and knows what he wants.