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Josiah’s Battle: 7-year-old making progress in therapy after gunshot to the head

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LUBBOCK, Texas (KJTV) - It’s been a year and a half of challenges for 7-year-old Josiah Villarreal, who was wounded in a drive-by shooting in 2019. After surviving a bullet wound to the head, he’s relying on his therapists and his strong will to help him fully recover.

Josiah suffered a traumatic brain injury in the attack, causing partial paralysis on the left side of his body. After three months in the hospital, Josiah has spent the past year at UMC’s Team Rehab Neuro and Pediatric Center. He does speech, occupational and physical therapy twice a week.

“He had to relearn how to walk and talk and just like really everything, like even hold up his neck,” his mother, Amber Hernandez, said.

Hernandez says she’s grateful for his therapists, but it still hurts that Josiah can’t do what he used to.

“Because I didn’t think it would be my son, ever,” Hernandez said.

Injuries from the attack also affected his memory, but there are some things he can’t forget.

“He still is emotional but not as much. He used to cry all the time and he would always just think like, they’re coming back to get him to finish it off,” Hernandez said.

Josiah left the hospital in a wheelchair, but after over a year of therapy, he’s walking, running, and smiling. Despite everything he’s been through, Josiah says he’s just fine.

After his mother explained that he worked on the left side of his body because it’s weak, Josiah insisted, “No, I’m not.”

“Well I know he’ll never be fully the same, but I hope he’s like as close to being the same like with him being able to run like a normal kid,” Hernandez said.

His mom plans to send Josiah to a more intensive therapy program, NAPA Center Austin, next month.

She’s selling “Josiah’s Battle” bracelets and set up a GoFundMe to help pay for housing and medical expenses.

This summer, Josiah will go to intensive therapy 5 days a week for 4 hours a day.

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