Just because man creates music doesn’t make it any less of a miracle. Fan Kyle Pinelli’s dramatic recovery, due to the healing hands of music, is one of the many cases which proves the poignant fact that music is the most compelling art form there is.
Perhaps because it’s so common, we often forget how much power lies within the art. Beyond its ability to move us, relate to us, and to speak to us, music is also the most activating stimuli the brain can experience. With the combined properties of numerical order and emotional expression, music activates the left and right sides of our brain simultaneously, creating neural pathways where none existed before. This profound mechanism is the very reason that music is used in rehabilitative therapy for those with traumatic brain injuries. It was this miraculous property of music that Kyle Pinelli and his family witnessed firsthand, and it was Tech N9ne that provided the soundtrack.
Before he suffered a near-fatal and life-changing accident, Kyle Pinelli was enjoying the life of any normal high school kid. He was (and still is) very much into cars, so much so that he has entered himself into mechanic competitions and plans to attend the Universal Technical Institute. Life was good, with little to no complaints for the adventurous teenager who exhibited “a bit of a wild side,” according to his mom Joan.
A normal day in May proved to be a violent change of events that would send shockwaves throughout Kyle and his entire family. During a country joyride, Kyle’s truck careened off the road and slammed into nearby trees. The speed of the impact proved to be near-fatal, as Kyle was brutally ejected through the windshield, landing in a heap of barbed wire, turning him into a tangled mess of broken bones, dislocations and torn skin. More affecting than any of these injuries was the brain trauma he suffered due to the impact, an injury so punishing that Kyle was now the victim of a DAI (diffuse axonal injury), a severe type of traumatic brain injury that frequently results in a coma. According to research, 90% of people with a DAI never regain consciousness. “He should’ve been dead,” Joan said, relaying a neurologist’s initial diagnosis.
As Kyle was laid up in a hospital bed, the situation looked grim. At first, the doctors were unable to ascertain the extent of his brain damage. After Kyle’s broken bones were repaired with numerous surgeries, he was taken off the drugs that had him in an induced coma. Kyle was supposed to come out of the coma, but he remained in a state of deep unconsciousness. CAT scans shortly followed. It was then that Kyle’s family was informed that he could possibly be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. “That was even harder than the night of the accident,” says Kyle’s big brother Alex, who had flown to Virginia from California to be with Kyle and his family. “There was lots of crying. Lots of silence. No one knew what to say. We just kind of sat in that room and hugged each other,” he adds, noting the family’s reaction to the news that they might have to say goodbye to the Kyle they’ve known their whole life.
Looking for answers, a glimmer of hope came in the form of a recommendation from someone at the hospital: “Someone suggested this great rehab place in Atlanta called Shepard Center and I said ‘We’ll go,'” Kyle’s mother Joan recalls.
It was in July, two and a half months after the accident, that Kyle finally started to come out of his vegetative state. It started with hand movements and progressed to vocal utterances. Growls turned into hums, and it was the notes that he hummed that led the rehab staff to have Kyle enter a music therapy class. Music would take its course and accelerate Kyle’s recovery, leading to hope that was previously thought unattainable. “Music was the starting point of it all,” said Alex.
The path to recovery after an accident as severe as Kyle’s is a long one. “They reteach you how to talk, they reteach you how to walk, and how to use all your muscles,” Alex recalls. Because Kyle had a tracheotomy, a tube that ran into his throat to help him breathe, it would take a lot for him to remember how to use his vocal cords. Because of the hole in Kyle’s throat, he wasn’t able to vibrate his vocal cords, and therefore unable to speak.
As it turned out, Tech N9ne’s music was the spark Kyle needed to get the vocal cords working again. Upon entering the music therapy class, the staff naturally asked Kyle’s family what kind of music he listens to. “Oh, he loves Tech N9ne,” his mother replied. Ironically Kyle’s music therapist was a fan herself, and immediately pulled up the “Fragile” music video. Kyle watched intently, unable to mutter any words, but bobbing his head none-the-less to the lulling rhythm of the song. The next song she chose to play was “Dysfunctional”. The Tech N9ne classic and fan-favorite would prove to be the turning point for Kyle to finally have his voice back.
“It was quiet and hard to hear but he was saying ‘Dysfunctional’ and a couple other words in the chorus and stuff. It was amazing,” Alex recalls.
“I like Strange Music. I like what they rap about. I don’t listen to any other artists,” Kyle puts it quite simply, citing “Dysfunctional” as one of his favorite songs.
With the help of his older brother Alex, Kyle was well on his way to recovery. Displaying a bond that can only belong to brothers, Alex was there through his recovery, aiding him in the routines and keeping Kyle’s spirits high.
Since the accident, Kyle has made a near-full recovery, still suffering some lingering nerve damage that has limited his range of motion in his left arm. Doctors hope he recovers his full range of motion with time, but in the meantime Kyle still possesses “that go getter attitude,” as his brother Alex says in his assessment of Kyle’s spirit.
Kyle’s enthusiasm for cars has not waned one bit, as he still plans to attend Universal Technical Institute. Despite the auto wreck, he still yearns to get back behind the wheel of a vehicle as soon as possible. Kyle recently graduated from high school, right on time despite the setback he suffered due to his accident, and his future looks incredibly bright. When asked what he’d say to the artists he’s a fan of at Strange Music, especially Tech N9ne, Kyle kept it simple and plain: “Thank you for being you pretty much. Keep on making music and doing good.”