CHICAGO -- Mailo Chavez is on edge these days. When he goes out, he doesn't tell people where he's going. At restaurants, he sits with his back to the wall. He doesn't stay in one spot for long.
He used to spend his days installing fences and his nights partying. Now he exercises every day to coax more strength out of his numb left leg. At night, his mind races so fiercely that he can't sleep more than three hours.
He is easily distracted. His balky leg doesn't allow him to drive. He lacks the coordination and balance to resume construction work. He is 26, but in the morning his muscles feel as stiff as an old man's.
But he can walk and even jog a bit. He can go up and down stairs. He lifts weights in his man-cave bedroom. Which makes him a brain injury rehabilitation success story.