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She also quite openly discussed her dissatisfaction with the quality of care her husband was receiving at the VA center in Minneapolis and how they fought for and received approval to move Corey to the private rehab hospital in Pomona.

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Initially, a ventilator breathed for him through a hole in his neck. A feeding Converse Tennis Shoes For Girls tube provided him sustenance. After shrapnel from the bomb cleared a path through the center of his brain, he could not speak, see or walk. He couldn't swallow or even hold up his head.

The explosion on that Sunday in Baghdad rocked more than just Corey Briest's world. Jenny Briest had just begun teaching special education in the Gayville Volin School District when the accident happened. Last April, she had to tell the district that she wouldn't be able to sign her contract this school year.

filled with disillusionment, along the way.

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It is taxing at times grueling work. Yet on one particular afternoon, waiting for the therapists to begin the stretching, Corey laid on a mat and sang "Zippity Do Dah" to himself.

Slow, but steady

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That, his doctors say, probably has made all the difference in the world for Corey Briest.

"From the physical therapy standpoint, his progress is slow but steady, such as his ability to transfer from his bed to a mat or a wheelchair," therapist Jeri Considine says. "But I'd say he's made some good improvement."

Suddenly, a family preparing to bury their soldier had reason to hope. The young National Guardsman from South Dakota would live. But at what level? And at what price for those who love him most?

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POMONA, Calif. The doctors, it turned out, underestimated Corey Briest.

has tried to cover her job in the Storm Lake, Iowa, school district over the telephone and Internet while helping out her son in Bethesda, then at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Minneapolis, and since mid June at the Casa Colina rehabilitation hospital in Pomona.

Corey reaches out with his fist, and Daniel touches it with his clenched fist. Daniel then smiles and says, "Keep your arms up," as he rolls away.

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Jenny Briest wrote about how President Bush and his wife, Laura, came to visit Corey at Bethesda before Christmas. She described how Cher and the music group Sugarland stopped in.

Still, five weeks after he was airlifted to Bethesda, Briest had recovered enough to transfer to the VA's polytrauma center in Minneapolis. There, the daily grind of physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapy began in earnest.

a patient named Daniel rolls up to him in a wheelchair and says, "Give me knuckles, Sarge."

In all that time, Jenny and Diane Briest have never left Corey's side.

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Hard work brings Iraq veteran back from brink

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Here in southern California, Corey Briest receives an extensive and diverse regimen of therapy and treatment at the rate of $735 a day, or $21,000 a month.

In a journal Jenny Briest keeps on a Web site called Caring Bridge, she has chronicled every mountain climbed, as well as every valley Converse Dainty Grey 5.5

Likewise, 45 year old Diane Briest Converse Ballet White

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While his wife and mother sat at his bedside and quietly planned his funeral, follow up brain scans at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., revealed activity his doctors were not expecting.

Almost every day, staff at Casa Colina stretch Corey's muscles and work on building his back and arm strength by having him push himself up on a cylindrical mat called a "bolster" and hold himself up for extended periods.

$735 per day

"He has thrived out here," she says. "It's made all the difference."

Last March 1, he looked into a mirror and gave a thumbs up that he could see in it. On April 1, he took five steps in physical therapy. In July, after almost eight months without talking, he spoke his first word, "Ky." On Aug. 28, he had his feeding tube removed.

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That progress has been painstakingly slow, but occasionally dramatic.

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When her husband started to hold his head up, she wrote about it. When he began communicating by writing on a white board, she told the world.

A cuckoo bird calls, and Corey correctly identifies it. Next a cricket chirps, then a duck quacks, then a cow moos.

In speech therapy, pathologist Julian Anzures plays animal and insect sounds on a tape player and asks Corey and others to identify the creatures.

Those answers still are not clear.

"If I had a message about health care advocacy, it's this," says Dr. David Patterson, who manages Corey Briest's medical conditions at Casa Colina. "If you're looking at one possible predictor in the success of a patient like Corey, it's strong family support. That's why he has succeeded so dramatically."

On a golden autumn afternoon in Pomona, Corey Briest is sitting in his wheelchair, waiting for physical therapy to begin, when Converse Sale Infant

In a journey of uncertainty at every step, it was the best decision they've made to date, Jenny Briest says.

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