(Guest post by Judy Spafford, PT, DOR)
One and one-half years ago a 22 year old young lady arrived at our facility one year post TBI from an automobile accident. She had been in a persistent vegetative state since the accident. She presented with bilateral upper and lower extremity contractures and no volitional movement. We initiated a rehabilitation program with all three disciplines. As we treated her we noticed that she would track our movements, and that is where our miraculous journey began.
We were privileged to listen to her say her first words again, especially when she said “Hi” for the first time to her family. 18 months later she now can speak with independent and thoughtful speech. She has functional and purposeful mobility in her right upper extremity and is able to draw which was one of her loves before the accident. The spasticity in her lower extremities has been managed with Botox injections that have significantly reduced her pain. Initially she required a mechanical lift for transfers and transitioning from sitting to standing required four staff members. She is now able to transition sit to stand with moderate assist of one and maintain standing with minimal support. She is able to sit upright in a standard wheelchair and able to sit unsupported on the edge of a mat while reaching for objects with her upper extremities. The improved mobility has enabled her family to take her home for family visits.
That is the physical part of her recovery. On an emotional level this young lady has touched and inspired everyone in our facility, residents and staff alike, in many heartfelt ways. The day we knew she was aware of her surroundings was when we heard her laugh for the first time at a joke somebody told, and she continues to laugh in spite of the hand which she has been dealt. She often states, “I’m happy because you are proud of me” and, ” I love my life.” She is kind and loving to everyone she meets. She has given us more than we have given her and we are honored to be a part of her recovery process.