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Southwest N.D. woman recovers after falling from horse and shattering skull

(Photo: Dickinson (N.D.) Press

SOUTH HEART, N.D. - As Shannon Binstock blazes through reasoning puzzles that would stump even the most experienced logician, it is hard to imagine that less than nine months ago she suffered brain trauma after shattering her skull.

The South Heart resident grew up on a farm and rode horses most of her life. On the afternoon of July 15, while relieving one of the riders at Stockmen's Livestock, where she works in Dickinson, she was bucked from a horse and landed head-first on concrete.

"I like to watch rodeo, not participate," she said with a smile.

Binstock was taken by ambulance to St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, where the pressure on her brain was said to be three times greater than normal. She was rushed into the emergency room, where a playing-card-sized portion of her skull was removed to relieve the pressure.

Immediately after the accident was a very trying time, Shannon's husband, Tom Binstock said.

"I kissed her good morning, and 10 minutes later our life was turned upside down," he said.

She was in a drug-induced coma for over a week and moved in and out of consciousness for almost two months. The family was very relieved when she awoke, Tom said.

"It was a miracle to me and the other people," he said. "It was very, very emotional. It put my mind at ease that everything would be fine."

She had no recollection of the accident and had tre­mendous gaps in memory of her pre-accident life.

"I literally had to relive growing up, high school and college," she said, citing photo albums as a means. "I couldn't remember my wedding day. I couldn't remember what my kids looked like when they were born, and for a mom, it's really hard not to know what your babies looked like."

For two months, she lived without the portion of her skull and was required to wear a helmet to prevent further damage. When it was time to reattach the skull, she was offered the option of a synthetic replacement, but she said her response was, "My own head would be the best."

The skull was replaced days before her 34th birthday.

The couple have four children: Kaylee, Aerica, Hank, and baby Aiden, who was adopted from an abusive home just months before the accident.

Jean Herauf, speech and language pathologist at Rehab Visions, worked with Shannon and said the goal was to be able to overcome problems with memory, impulsivity, attention and adhering to conversational norms.

"You put up walls of what is OK and what's not OK to talk about or do," Shannon said. "When your head is damaged, that goes away."

A multitude of cognitive exercises were used to overcome the deficiencies, Herauf said.

"It is really like working out for the brain," she said. "She has worked really hard."

Tom said the family is blessed to have Shannon at home and in good health.

"It is a miracle," Tom said. "In less than a year, things are back to normal."

Shannon is back working at Stockman's Livestock and suggests that all riders wear a helmet. She is able to enjoy painting, drawing and photography.

The Dickinson Press and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.