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Zionsville teen thanks those involved in his 'miraculous' recovery after brain injury

The reunion of Ryan Bardellini and his neurosurgeon is one no one was sure would ever take place.

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) — It's been a long, hard road for Zionsville teenager Ryan Bardellini.

He suffered a brain injury a year ago. On Thursday, Bardellini wanted to thank those who were instrumental in his miraculous recovery.

The reunion of Bardellini, 19, and neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Kulwin is one no one was sure would ever take place.

It was Thanksgiving weekend nearly a year ago when Bardellini fell from a moving vehicle and fractured his skull.

Bardellini doesn't remember any of it. Kulwin does.

"His skull was completely ripped apart," said Kulwin, who works at Goodman Campbell Brain & Spine.

Looking forward to graduating high school and continuing a promising fencing career, Bardellini had been accepted to every school he'd applied to. Now no one knew what would happen next.

"I just learned how to run. I just learned how to get down on the ground and get back up, which I couldn't do, believe it or not," said Bardellini.

"He's far and away the best outcome for the severity of a brain injury I have ever experienced. That is about as lucky as it gets," Kulwin said.

Then, as suddenly as the accident occurred, all the operations, all the prayers paid off when he reached for his tablet.

"I had the iPad playing and I thought it was time to stop it and Ryan reached up and stopped it and scrolled through the iPad. He finally found a Bruce Willis movie and started it," Kimberly Bardellini remembered.

"I had no idea how special my case was. I met a girl at the hospital who suffered the same injury as me and this is her sixth year and she is just learning how to walk," Bardellini said.

He's continuing therapy, taking a class at Butler and preparing to go to Purdue in the fall. He will also be taking part in the 4th annual Brain Bolt 5k Run/Walk that is scheduled for Sept. 29 at the Carmel Gazebo.