For Konstantinov, recovery is slow but steady
Posted: Tuesday June 16, 1998 01:37 AM
Konstantinov attended Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals (AP)|
DETROIT (AP) -- If the Detroit Red Wings win the
Stanley Cup this year, one stop it definitely will be making is at Vladimir
Last year, the Wings celebration was
cut short by a limousine crash that injured three members of the Red Wings,
including Konstantinov. The day after the June 13, 1997, crash,
Konstantinov was to have arranged to get his time with the Cup that is
given every member of the championship team.
"He was about to go
the next day and find out when he would get it," his wife, Irina, told the
Detroit Free Press for a story Tuesday. "And it never happened. So
if we win this year, it will be a double celebration for us -- for Vladdie
to be alive and to have another cup. We have so many friends who would be
happy to see Vladdie hugging the cup."
Although his memory isn't
very good, Irina Konstantinov says she sees signs of progress and is
hopeful about her husband's future recovery.
the cup last fall and though he can't remember winning it, was able to
point to his engraved name. He is able to watch games now and, when Irina
Konstantinov asks him why a player is going to the penalty box, he tells
"He is not depressed. He has the greatest attitude
towards everyone. He recognizes the people he loves. I'm very happy with
his progress. With this type of injury, you never say weeks, you say
months. There is no absolute guarantee at all of what he will be able to
do. That's the whole frustration.
"But every day you're just
happy that there's something new -- that he talks a little bit better or he
can help to dress himself. That means he's not stuck; he's doing something
new, no matter what it is."
Konstantinov's memory was badly
damaged in the accident. He doesn't remember visiting the White House and
President Bill Clinton in January. He doesn't remember being at Game 2 of
the Stanley Cup finals last week. He watches the Wings on TV and recognizes
"It doesn't bother him that he is not playing,"
Irina Konstantinov said. :He doesn't have much of a memory. We talk to him
a lot, and he learns from us. Being reminded every day, he started to keep
in his memory that he was in a car crash. That's all he knows.
"But you know what, the brain is amazing. Maybe his brain blocks something
out because that is best for now. He was more dead than alive when it
happened, and his recovery is so long and hard, maybe it's good the brain
blocked out memory so it's possible for him to not be depressed and work
Viacheslav Fetisov has returned to playing since the
accident. Team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov suffered serious injuries in the
crash and is still in rehabilitation.
Konstantinov can answer
simple questions in English and talk a little better in Russian. He can sit
up in bed and get up from his wheelchair. Though it is hard for others not
to rush to his help, he benefits when he is forced to do more and more
himself. He can put on a T-shirt now, something he couldn't do at
"Sometimes there is a plateau time, where he is
not progressing, and that's when you're holding your breath thinking, oh,
my God, I wish he would do something new, something new, just tomorrow,
just something little.
"To get that hope that it's not forever,
it's just another plateau and he's going to go another step. Those days are
the most depressing."
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