20-year-old girl works with parents to recover from brain injury

Bill was just finishing his dinner one evening when he received the phone call every parent dreads. When he answered the phone, a voice at the other end asked if he was Andrea’s dad. When he confirmed that he was, the voice on the phone said that Andrea had been in a car accident and was in the hospital.

Although Bill didn’t learn this until later, Andrea’s brain injury was so severe that doctors didn’t expect her to survive the night. During the car accident, Andrea’s brain slammed against the left side of her skull, causing it to bleed and tear neurons that controlled her ability to breathe, swallow, think and communicate.

Thankfully, Andrea survived the night. But she spent the next several months in the hospital. During that time, she began waking from her brain-injury. She learned to point to cards that said “yes” and “no.” Using just those two cards, she routinely made her therapists laugh. She used the cards to comment on songs she didn’t like or to tell her dad to stop sharing embarrassing stories. Although it was a basic form of communication, it helped reassure her parents that Andrea was still inside.

After several months in the hospital, the family reached their insurance cap, and they took Andrea home. At that point, she still wasn’t able to talk, and it would be months before she was able to stand or walk along.

However, when Andrea went home, her progress continued. Eventually, she started talking and then forming sentences and laughing. Andrea still hopes to return to college and eventually have her own home and dog. In the meantime, it’s been reassuring for her family to continually watch her improve.

Source: msn, “Bringing Andrea back from brain injury: a father’s story,” Bill Briggs, June 14, 2012

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