She doesn't remember driving or the entire week before her accident, but she's made incredible strides, thanks to a lot of hard work and rigorous therapy. In the brain injury rehabilitation unit, Brynn and other patients work with brain injury teams that consist of a physiatrist, rehabilitation nursing staff, clinical neuropsychologist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech language pathologist, a recreational therapist and a social worker. Mary Osting, a brain injury liaison and speech therapist, worked with Brynn while she was a patient on the sub-acute unit. "It's life-altering for patients and their families," Osting says of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Brynn's regime included speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and recreational therapy. "I had a wheelchair and had to learn how to walk with a walker," Brynn says.
She couldn't walk independently again until she started the brain injury day treatment program. Each weekday from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. she participated in more individualized therapy, group therapy and activities to facilitate community re-entry. David Klein, clinical neuropsychologist and clinical coordinator of the brain injury continuum for Hook Rehab Outpatient Services, worked with her. "When you first started here, you weren't able to participate at a high level, so we would spend hours playing cards with you," says Klein to Brynn.
Card playing helped develop rapport and basic thinking skills such as orientation, paying attention for a period of time, and basic reasoning that allowed more intensive therapy later.
Eventually, Brynn thrived and even did a cartwheel in physical therapy. "That, I was really proud of myself for," she says. "I did it the same way. It was just a lot slower because I closed my eyes and prayed for mercy."
Suffering a TBI wasn't without consequence. Brynn had to deal with losing a boyfriend, a changing voice and a decline in her math skills among other things. "I'm not like my old self. My mom says there's old Brynn and new Brynn," she explains. "Before I could cheer and I was super smart. I'm not dumb now, but now it seems like everything is hard."
"It doesn't change how smart you are, but maybe it changes how you organize yourself," Klein adds, addressing Brynn. "You're someone who worked really hard and got a lot of your life back."
Klein explains how extensive therapy at Hook Outpatient Services helps Brynn and other patients. "What differentiates the Hook brain injury rehabilitation continuum and facilitates Brynn and other patients with brain injury in their recovery is our individualized goal setting, holistic rehabilitation planning, neuropsychological orientation, therapeutic milieu, outcome oriented rehabilitation planning, high intensity rehabilitation program, and staff dedicated and trained specifically in brain injury rehabilitation."
By sharing her story, Brynn hopes to increase awareness of TBI and Hook's brain injury continuum. "I didn't know anything about brain injury until I woke up and found out I had it," she says. "And I really didn't understand it. I still don't understand it very well. I just want people to know that people with brain injuries aren't dumb. They are the same as you. Brain injuries don't go away like colds, but people wouldn't know I had a brain injury unless I told them."