Corey Beattie was three weeks away from her eighteenth birthday when a vehicle struck the passenger side door of her car at 72 miles per hour. The impact left her with multiple injuries, including a broken neck, left clavicle, pelvis and femur. However, the most severe was her traumatic brain injury. With a diffused axonal injury, Corey was not expected to recover. She was airlifted to a local hospital and evaluated.
“When the ER doctor sat with me to explain what had happened, I had no clue what the full extent of her injuries were,” said her mother, Marie.
She was placed on life support, required a craniectomy and femur surgery. Corey remained in the intensive care unit for three weeks.
“It was as if she was a newborn again. Corey had to relearn everything she had already known but could no longer perform,” Marie explains. “She couldn’t move her head or limbs independently. She couldn’t speak, eat or pan the room with her eyes. She was severely limited in what her body could do.”
As she became more stable, the ICU team prepared Marie to visit local rehabilitation hospitals to continue Corey’s recovery. Although other rehab facilities had diverse environments, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital offered a unit dedicated to brain injury.
“A facility that specializes in treating a specific injury is critical for the recovery of a patient and I knew Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital would be critical to Corey’s recovery process,” says Marie.
Over the next seven months, Corey received inpatient therapy and worked closely with David Long, MD, medical director of the Brain Injury Program, as well as her occupational, physical, and speech therapists. She moved home and continued her therapy regime.
Now, a year and a half after her inpatient discharge, Corey has returned to Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital for outpatient therapy three times per week. During her visits to the hospital each week for therapy, Corey has begun to use the Lokomat®Pro system with her physical therapist. The Lokomat stimulates the central nervous system, reminding the body and mind how to walk again. As Marie explains, her body is “waking up.”
Watch Corey on the Lokomat®Pro system relearning how to walk.
“I explain to Corey, her body essentially had been asleep for two years. Therapy is critical to keep her muscles limber and exercise also stimulates the brain. She has to keep moving,” she says.
But it doesn’t stop there.
In addition to her therapies at the hospital, Marie has developed therapy exercises for Corey at home. Corey, who aspired to be a chef, makes 10 meals per week to donate to Meals on Wheels during their cooking therapy, which includes using cooking utensils and kitchen tools that have been adapted to fit Corey’s needs.
“Everything is therapy. We stand at the kitchen sink, reach for the faucet to turn the water on and off; that’s occupational therapy. For physical therapy, we walk throughout the first floor of our home and stretch twice a day every day for at least an hour,” says Marie. “Cognitive therapy, physical, occupational, and speech therapy is a part of our everyday lives; sorting laundry, emptying the silverware from the dishwasher, playing cards, singing and listening to music are all part of her therapy.”
This universal approach to therapy at the hospital and at home is paying off. Whereas Corey had no motion in her left hand or arm just a few months ago, she is now moving her left arm, opening her hand and beginning to hold a fork and knife simultaneously.
“Watching Corey participate in her therapy sessions we’re discovering what she remembers, what she knows instinctually and what we have to adapt to help her function,” explains Marie. “The progress she has made in two years is shocking people.”
Corey continues her outpatient therapy three times a week as Marie continues to adapt her therapy lessons to life at home with the confidence that Corey will make a full recovery.
“Corey will recover and the staff at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital shares in that achievement,” she says.