Humboldt Broncos player Layne Matechuk leaves hospital after 6-month stay
The 18-year-old is still working to regain mobility on the right side of his body, but his speech is improving every day, according to his older sister and best friend Carley Matechuk.
WATCH: Layne Matechuk walks out of a Saskatoon hospital almost six months to the day after he was injured
“He’s definitely getting back to his old self a little bit,” Carley told Global News.
Layne’s biggest obstacle has been a brain injury sustained on April 6, when the charter bus carrying the Broncos hockey team was struck by a semi-truck en route to a playoff game in Nipawin, Sask.
Offering responses with one or two words, Layne said he wants people to know that he’s happy, doing better and getting stronger.
As he uttered the word “strong,” Layne rose his left fist in the air.
“He still has a ways to go, but it’s nice to have a conversation with him again,” Carley said.
WATCH BELOW: Humboldt Broncos’ Layne Matechuk speaks after release from hospital
Working with rehabilitation staff daily in hospital, Layne underwent speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
He will continue with outpatient appointments in hospital, in addition to rehab elsewhere.
Layne is starting to comprehend what happened to the Broncos, though his memory and understanding come and go due to his head injury, his sister explained.
Over the summer, Carley, a teacher in Regina, would spend a week in Saskatoon, followed by a week away. With the school year underway, she visits every other weekend.
On one occasion, Carley kept telling her younger brother how much she loved him and showed him the American Sign Language symbol to reply “I love you.”
As Layne’s condition improved through the summer, he was able to make brief trips away from the hospital.
When Carley turned 22 in August, Layne was able to visit the family cabin on what Carley called her “most important birthday yet.”
“When we got in the hospital, we didn’t really know how long it would be before he got out, and with a brain injury, you don’t really know,” Carley said.
“That was kind of a goal that we had set was my birthday and for him to be able to be there was just awesome.”
WATCH: Carley Matechuk describes spending her birthday with her brother Layne
With Layne embarking on the next stage in his recovery, the family wants to stress the importance of driver awareness and patience on the road.
“Your life is too precious to worry about speeding through that red light or to be on your phone. Just take your time,” Carley said.
Kevin Matechuk, Carley and Layne’s father, urged drivers to follow the rules of the road.
“What’s the rush? A couple seconds is just not worth risking somebody’s life or many people’s lives like in this case,” Kevin said.
The Matechuk family will be gathering to celebrate his release from hospital over the Thanksgiving long weekend.
“We feel like our family is back together again. It’s been a long time,” Kevin said.
They would like to thank the people who helped Layne and the Broncos, including the Good Samaritans, first responders, STARS Air Ambulance and hospital staff.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.