Cole Koons’ Inspiring TBI NeurOptimal® Journey

By: Susan M. S. Lindgren of Brain Training Lounge
Endorsed by the Koons Family
February 11, 2024

Cole Koons’ parents received the telephone call that every parent fears. Early in the morning on June 11, 2022, their son sustained a life-threatening Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) on his way to work. Thankfully, he was wearing a helmet while traveling on his motorcycle when he collided with a car. As described by his mom, “At 5:25 AM, Cole was involved in an accident when a car pulled out in front of him. His injuries are life threatening, and we don’t know his future at this point. He is not stable. He is in more than critical condition. It’s minute by minute now.”

Among his many devastating injuries, Cole suffered a Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) and seven strokes. DAI is a severe form of TBI that involves shearing or tearing of the brain’s long connecting nerve fibers (axons) when the brain shifts and rotates inside the skull. DAI usually causes a coma and injury to many different parts of the brain. Full recovery after DAI is uncertain and not guaranteed. Cole was 19 years old at the time of the accident and initially spent several weeks in a coma with critical life support measures. He was in an “unconscious wakeful” state nearly 6.5 weeks after the accident and was transferred to a long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) on July 27, 2022.

Cole showed slow, mostly physical progress for 2.5 months after the accident. By August 10, Cole was able to look at his parents and follow their movements with his eyes around his hospital room. Cole’s mom was convinced there was connection in his eyes despite staff remarking otherwise. On August 15, he completely weaned off his ventilator, a huge recovery milestone, but he required 24-hour nursing care given his delicate condition. He was upgraded from a “vegetative state” to “minimally conscious” at that time. According to his mom, his cognitive progress had mostly “plateaued” in the weeks before we started training his brain.

I contacted Cole’s mom, a friend of mine, in early August and asked if they wanted to try training Cole’s brain with NeurOptimal®. I was aware of its profoundly positive impact on another young man’s severe TBI recovery. [Brian Drake’s story, “NeurOptimal®: Back from the Brink” is featured on NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Systems’ YouTube Channel. I contacted Brian’s mother Dr. Joan-Marie Lartin for guidance, and she encouraged us to start training Cole as soon & as frequently as possible. I also received helpful guidance from another NeurOptimal® Trainer based in Australia, Denise Cull, who experienced her own Acquired Brain Injury journey.] While Cole’s doctor was considering downgrading his condition to a “non-responsive wakeful state,” Cole’s parents fiercely advocated with his LTACH Team to start NeurOptimal® brain training sessions as soon as possible.

Cole’s first NeurOptimal® session was on August 24, 2022, more than 10 weeks after the accident. The only other nontraditional intervention introduced to his ongoing care regimen in late August was hydrogen therapy at the suggestion of another friend. At that time, Cole could open his eyes to gaze at others and minimally move his right hand & thumb. He sometimes gently squeezed others’ hands with his right hand, but it was unclear if this was reflexive or intentional movement. He remained otherwise physically immobile in his hospital bed and required routine body re-positioning by the nursing staff. He had tracheostomy and feeding tubes in place.

After spending a month at the LTACH with no significant signs of cognitive improvement, Cole’s shifts (changes) during his first month of brain training were evident & remarkable. He routinely took power naps during his sessions and often had huge, jaw-popping yawns (as many as five during one 33-minute session!) while training. These are tangible indications of the training’s impact on his central nervous system. Many NeurOptimal® users experience an immediate sense of relaxation while or soon after training. A summary of some of Cole’s early training shifts in the fall of 2022 follows:

Session 1, Aug 24: Cole’s mom, who had barely left her son’s side since June 11th, said his face appeared “relaxed.”

Session 2, Aug 26: Cole made vocal sounds his mom had never heard before.

Session 3, Aug 27: While I trained Cole solo, he looked directly into my eyes with a noticeably new connection.

Session 4, Aug 29: Cole was more alert and started gazing at the television in his room while training. His skin felt less cold and clammy to the touch.

Session 7, Sep 6: Cole’s eyes were notably clearer, and his speech therapist recently told his mom that he had made “notable progress” over the previous two weeks (since he started NeurOptimal®). He was now using intentional, slow blinks to communicate that he understood what was said to him! His hands & fingers also felt warm.

Session 8, Sep 8: Just 16 days into training, Cole was propped upright in his bed when he held his head off his pillow using his neck muscles for the very first time! He did this upon request. This unexpected & sudden show of physical strength happened the day after surgery to remove an arm cast!

Session 9, Sep 12: Cole’s mom shared with me that his “progress has come leaps and bounds” since he started brain training just 20 days earlier. Cole started giving his mom clear Thumbs Up hand gestures in response to her questions! A day later, the hospital capped his tracheostomy tube and staff told his mom that he was “continuing to make progress each day!

Sep 15: Mom said it was the best day they’ve had with Cole since this started!

Session 11, Sep 16: Cole was now consistently following commands which, according to his mom, was “huge!” He was also very vocal that morning, too.

Session 14, Sep 21: Cole’s speech therapist remarked that he was making “awesome progress!” Two days later, Cole was breathing through his nose with his mouth closed.

Session 17, Sep 25: Cole gave his family a “HUGE SMILE” for the very first time since the accident! On Sep 26, his mom shared, “Today was one of those AMAZING days!!!” Cole was pointing at Yes/No signs, moving his legs and feet all around, covered his tracheostomy tube when a nurse approached to suction his lungs (it stunned everyone in the room), and pressed pause/play buttons on his mom’s phone. He even puckered up his lips to ‘blow a kiss’ to his Auntie Alison! His dad had been blowing him kisses every day.

Session 18, Sep 27: Soon after his final session at the LTACH, one of Cole’s nurses remarked that he was smiling and looked happy.

Within a month of starting NeurOptimal® Dynamical Neurofeedback®, Cole progressed from a “minimally conscious” state to clearly understanding & reacting to his parents’ inside jokes & comments, communicating with others with his eyes, using Thumbs Up & ‘I Love You’ hand signs, gesturing at his mom’s handmade Yes/No sign, and expressing joy with his beautiful smile! He started moving multiple parts of his body, his physical strength significantly improved, he moved his therapist’s hand from his forehead (a feat mom found incredulous at the time), he was able to swallow small bits of melted ice and began clearing chest mucous on his own. He sometimes said “ahh” to indicate his approval and began gesturing goodbye when I left his room after his sessions. Cole’s NeurOptimal® transformation had begun.

Cole spent 49 days in the ICU and 69 days at the LTACH. He trained 18 times over 35 days during the latter part of his stay at the LTACH before he was transferred to the world-renowned Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado on September 29, 2022, for intensive neurorehabilitation. He continued his NeurOptimal® sessions with Susan during his time at Craig Hospital for three months. Cole’s family was so relieved, excited to see, and incredibly proud of his hard-fought progress. Their precious son & beloved brother was making his way back to them!

In early October, Cole’s speech therapist at Craig Hospital told his mom that his baseline was better than expected! By the end of October, Cole’s voice was still elusive, but he was clearly communicating his needs, thoughts, and feelings with a touchscreen and letterboard. He could rapidly point to letters to spell out words and ‘talk.’ It was hard to keep up with him! His progress was profound compared to his condition just two months earlier! Once Cole started clearly communicating with his family, it became known that he recalled passwords for his accounts! Craig Hospital made an exception to extend Cole’s neurorehabilitation by several weeks because he showed consistent, notable progress! He finally returned home two days before Christmas. What a gift!

Cole continued NeurOptimal® sessions with Susan’s assistance for three more months at home before pausing his training in March of 2023. According to his mom, his sleep was solid after he came home, too! He took impressive power naps during his NeurOptimal® sessions throughout his training and resumed outpatient therapies with Craig Hospital in January 2023.

Working with and serving Cole & his family has been one of the most impactful and rewarding experiences of my life. It’s hard to put into words how incredible it was to witness his transformational training shifts during the first month. Cole’s parents trusted my recommendations when their son was in a precarious position and welcomed me into their inner circle during one of the most trying times of their lives. His mom graciously shared that I was a “huge part of his recovery.” Cole’s parents’ unwavering advocacy and dedication to their son’s recovery through a roller coaster ride of emotional valleys & peaks were instrumental to his transformation.

Cole’s parents, Kristi & Casey Koons, consider NeurOptimal® a critical component of their son’s recovery. His brain deserves most of the credit! Cole has continued to defy the odds and impress his family, friends, and Craig Hospital staff with his ongoing recovery milestones. After a full year of hard work & determination in outpatient therapy, he’s now able to ride a trike and walk during his therapy sessions with notably less assistance. Cole’s parents led #ColesWarriors who were praying for his recovery and celebrating his wins throughout his ordeal.

Cole’s parents wholeheartedly recommend NeurOptimal® to anyone who’s suffered a life-threatening TBI. While the journey has not been smooth, Cole’s positive progress and sheer determination to get better was evident & accelerated after he started NeurOptimal® brain training. In their view, everyone deserves a chance to see how NeurOptimal® may promote their recovery and overall well-being.

Best wishes to you now & forevermore, Cole! You’re truly an inspiration! Soak up those moonbeams and hang tough! You’re alright.

You can Follow Cole on TikTok @colesjourneyfight13, his mom on Facebook @kristi.koons.1, and #Fight13 and #ColesWarriors to support Cole and remain inspired. Always #LookTwiceSaveALife!

NeurOptimal® is the world’s first & only Dynamical Neurofeedback®. This innovative form of neurofeedback is not a medical treatment but instead is a training for the brain. It does not require diagnosis, but rather it dances micro-second by micro-second with your brain, offering it the information it needs to re-organize itself to more efficient & effective operation. NeurOptimal® also promotes a more flexible & inherently resilient mindset. A more fit & flexible central nervous system results in a myriad of concerns seamlessly dropping away for most people. NeurOptimal® is a product of Zengar Institute Inc. and was meticulously co-developed by Zengar®’s Founders Valdeane W. Brown, Ph.D. and Susan Brown, Ph.D. NeurOptimal® is used around the world by people of all ages to manage stress, enhance learning capacity, promote mental focus & healthy sleep habits, manage performance anxiety, and promote overall mind-body wellness. It has been transforming lives since 2000. Susan M. Salyer Lindgren is a Certified Advanced NeurOptimal® Trainer and the Founder of Brain Training Lounge based in Longmont, Colorado USA. Brain Training Lounge offers studio sessions and NeurOptimal® Advanced Brain Training System rentals. Every brain can benefit by tapping into its own unique optimal state with NeurOptimal® neurotraining! Visit for more information.

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