CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Troy Blackchief’s recovery hasn’t been easy. After being struck by a vehicle this past February, the Cheektowaga police officer is preparing for another cranioplasty.

The Cleveland Clinic defines this procedure as something that “repairs a defect in your skull, to better protect your brain from damage.”

During the morning that changed his life, Blackchief was one of the officers helping Depew police end a pursuit related to stolen vehicles. He was deploying stop sticks on Union Road at Route 33 when he was struck.

45 years old at the time of the incident, Blackchief had served 17 years with the Cheektowaga Police Department, spending time in the patrol division and SWAT team.

As part of his road to recovery, Blackchief’s family announced in March that he would need to receive a new 3D-printed, surgically placed skull bone.

In a letter shared by Cheektowaga police Wednesday morning, Blackchief’s wife Jen described the long recovery that has taken them across part of the country to both Chicago and Fort Worth. In the former, Blackchief spent time rehabilitating his body at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

“When we arrived at Shirley Ryan, Troy was in a wheelchair, able to take only a few steps with help, he was unsure of who we were and could not make any new memories,” Jen Blackchief’s letter said. “They helped Troy find physical strength and delivered on the most important element of his recovery from my perspective…forming connections between the humans he recognized and the role we have in his world.”

A return home came on April 23 when the Blackchiefs went to ECMC for the Cheektowaga officer’s replacement skull.

“3D printed using a form of resin (PEEK) and secured with titanium plates and screws, Troy’s head was nicely rounded out, protecting his brain for further recovery,” the letter said.

11 days of intensive medical care followed before the Blackchiefs departed for the Centre for Neuro Skills (CNS) in Texas.

“After evaluating multiple programs, CNS was chosen for two main reasons,” the letter said. “First, the supportive housing structure fits Troy’s lifestyle preferences well. Second, when asked how the program would integrate police work into the program, including firearms training, CNS was the only program that did not blink.”

While all of this is going on, the letter says Troy and Jen’s children are primarily being taken care of by their aunt and uncle.

Unfortunately, Blackchief had to be rushed to a Texas hospital for an infection under his new skull just two weeks after arriving at CNS. This led to another emergency craniectomy.

“Back in the helmet and weakened by the infection, this would be the first major setback in months,” the letter said.

Regarding his upcoming second cranioplasty, Jen Blackchief’s letter says the plans are still “in the making.”

“As I said in my March 2023 letter, he is the most strong-willed person I know, and if anyone can find his way back…it’s Troy,” the letter read.

Anyone who wants to share a letter of support can send it to the following address:

Officer Troy Blackchief

3512 Arborlawn Dr. N

Fort Worth, TX 76109

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.