Former Miss DSU fights like an OKRA
by Shaunna Watson
Dec 02, 2012 | 4703 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Miss DSU fights like an OKRA
Laken with boyfriend of two years Adam Davis. The couple enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday with her family on the beach.
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Former Miss Delta State University Laken Wilson and her boyfriend Adam Davis left Cleveland last week to spend Thanksgiving break at the beach as her family traditionally does.

"This year was very special to me because it was the first time my whole family has been together since my accident," said Laken.

Earlier this year the next family vacation was the last thing on the Wilson family's minds.

On New Year's Day, Laken, Adam and his family were visiting the Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado.

The younger members of the family decided to go snowboarding on the mountainside.

Eventually the group became tired and decided it was too icy to snowboard, so they walked down the mountain to play in the snow.

At some point everyone began to tumble down the mountainside.

"Adam fell further down from me. I hit the artificial snowmaking machine. He tried to call and text me, and when I didn't answer he decided to hike back up the mountain," said Laken, recalling what everyone had told her about the accident.

Adam ran into the ski patrol and noticed a commotion up the mountain.

He asked what happened and discovered it was Laken who had taken a worse tumble than the rest of the group.

Witnesses of the event had called for help and Laken was airlifted to a Denver Health Medical Center.

"My whole family down here (in Cleveland) was just in hysterics. The last thing they told my mom before she got on the plane was that they couldn't promise her I would be O.K. when she got there," Laken said.

After undergoing three hours of surgery to remove bone fragments from the left side of her brain and to stop any brain bleeding that may have occurred, Laken spent 22 days in DHMC with less than a week of that time in ICU.

She was then moved to the pediatric floor to assess her therapy options.

Laken was told the soonest she would be able to be admitted to nearby Craig Hospital, a center that specializes in spinal chord and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, would be Jan. 22.

To Laken, that seemed too far away.

Although she still could not speak, she was able to communicate to her father that she did not want to wait that long to begin the recovery process.

Instead she chose to be moved to the rehab therapy department of Denver Health Medical Center.

The progress made from this decision led Laken to be discharged from the DMHC on the initial date she was scheduled to begin therapy at Craig Hospital — Jan. 22.

"After the flight home, I began outpatient therapy with Mary and Julie at Cleveland Rehab to regain mobility and balance," said Laken. "I was walking with assistance."

"After two months I was done with physical therapy," she continued, "but I still had a long way to go with my hand."

Since taking a semester off to recover from the accident, Laken has eased back into college life.

Delta State University called her to participate as an Orientation Leader this summer, and she was able to give up her crown as Miss DSU.

"Not like I would have liked to, but I was able to walk across the stage," she recalled.

Laken was released from speech therapy in May, but chose to take advantage of the speech and hearing services offered by DSU.

"Just because I don't think it's where it (my speech) should be. I was understanding everything fine," she said reflecting on her decision.

"My hand still gives me some trouble," continued Laken, as she rubbed her writing hand. "The whole right side of my body was paralyzed, initially."

In describing how her communication has been impacted by the accident, she said, "I would have to use my left hand to communicate, to write on dry erase boards. I can use both of them (hands). It just takes me a long time to write with my right hand now. I still don't have the feeling back in it so it's really hard. The strength's not back but I can do it."

Laken said the teachers at Delta State University have been very good to her and have allowed her to take her exams orally.

"I have to study harder, and sometimes I get nervous and have trouble with oral presentations," said the junior fashion merchandising major.

Laken is an active member of Tri Delta Fraternity and participates in most college campus activities, including the recent Fashion Merchandising Fashion Show.

She lives in the dorms on campus and has regained her ability to drive.

"I think she's O.K. with it," Laken said of her mother, Mechelle's feelings about her living on campus, "because I see her all the time and I help with softball. My little sister plays so I see her on a normal basis."

After graduating in December 2014, she plans to attend graduate school as an interior design major at Mississippi State or Mississippi College.

After taking the semester off to be with Laken as much as possible throughout her healing, Adam is now re-enrolled at DSU a well.

They have been dating for two years.

"I don't see myself with anybody else," said Laken.