Brain injury survivor inspires others through volunteer work

Submitted photo Dr. Diorio, Good Shepherd neuropsychologist, with Adam.

Adam Wertz, of Mohrsville, barely survived an industrial accident in 2008 that left him unable to speak, eat, walk or do the simplest tasks. Only on the job for 11 months, a two-ton steel beam hit Adam under the chin, knocking him to the concrete floor and causing a severe brain injury.

Today, Adam is on the go, volunteering four days a week and working out at a gym almost every day. Though Adam has not been able to return to work, he has made a new life for himself, inspiring others with a positive attitude and willingness to help others.

For his efforts, he was recently honored with the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania (BIAPA) John Sears Award. The award recognizes individuals who have overcome significant challenges and used their talents and strengths to attain personal achievements.

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Adam performed extensive outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy at Good Shepherd to get where he is today. After taking the Safe Driver Evaluation and Training Program, he was able to obtain his driver’s license. He continues to work with Martin Diorio, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist at Good Shepherd, who is one of those inspired by Adam’s achievements.

“I greatly admire Adam’s willingness to rise above his injury and give back to the community,” said Dr. Diorio.

“I have never given up on myself,” said Adam. “There’s always hope. For others in similar circumstances, I tell them not to feel sorry for themselves. Stay active. Take it day by day.”

Adam volunteers for four different organizations: Abilities in Motion and the American Cancer Society in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Our Town Foundation and St. Mary Church in Hamburg. He enjoys helping out with mailings, cleaning, data entry and setting up for functions. But his favorite volunteer activity is washing and detailing cars and vans, a task he enjoyed before his injury. Our Town Foundation named him Volunteer of the Year in 2012.

In his spare time, he enjoys bowling in a league, golfing with his dad, attending Penn State football games and going to church every Sunday, something he didn’t do before his accident but that he said has helped him in his recovery.

Adam has also been a guest speaker with his dad at several safety events for his former employer, traveling to Pittsburgh and South Carolina to talk to employees about workplace injury prevention and the impact of accidents such as his on families. In addition, he is featured in a safety film that is shown to plant employees.

When he attended the BIAPA conference earlier this year, Adam once again was able to share his story with a large group. He told them: “I have some advice for all of you, and that is to make the best of every day. You never know what might happen.”