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Positive attitude helps tennis instructor recover from aneurysm

Patient Spotlight November 21, 2017 By Main Line Health

At first, Kim Cubero didn’t think much of the finger pain in her left hand. After all, she was a tennis instructor; minor aches and pains were bound to happen. But when the pain continued for several days, she made an appointment with a neurologist. Cubero assumed she would be diagnosed with a pinched nerve but, following her appointment, she faced a much more serious issue.

“My son took me to the doctor, but all I remember was the waiting room and paying my copay. I don’t remember anything else,” she says.

Cubero wasn’t just forgetful—on Halloween 2016, she suffered a brain aneurysm. Suddenly, her finger pain and foggy state made more sense. Cubero was rushed to her local hospital and transported to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH) in Philadelphia for treatment, where she remained for a month.

While Cubero can recount the details of her care and hospital stay based on the accounts of her family and care team, it took more than a month for her memory to return. When it did, she found herself en route to Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, part of Main Line Health.

Cubero’s family had selected Bryn Mawr Rehab for her post-acute care after hearing that the hospital came highly recommended. Her family was confident that she would receive the care she needed during her stay, even if it meant being further away from her home in Reading.

It didn’t take long for Cubero to begin feeling comfortable at Bryn Mawr Rehab. She was immediately enrolled in a customized therapy program that included speech, occupational, physical and recreation therapy. She was surprised at how immediate the results were.

“My physical therapist told me I’d walk on the first day, but I didn’t believe it,” says Cubero. “They told me I’d do four steps. I did 25.”

Her success translated in other areas. As her body began to regain its strength, her memory started to rebound, too.

“Ms. Cubero participated in speech therapy sessions to address difficulties in areas like short-term memory, attention and problem solving. By the time she was able return home, though, the strategies she had practiced in speech therapy had greatly improved these factors and allowed her to live independently,” says Jessica Kosloski, speech language pathologist at Bryn Mawr Rehab.

“She was a pleasure to work with and she encouraged our staff and other patients to maintain a positive attitude and participate to the fullest of their abilities, too.”
In between therapy sessions, Cubero was able to make connections with other patients at Bryn Mawr Rehab—including her roommate.

“I had a great roommate during the two weeks I was there. They paired us together based on our skill level and abilities, and how we were doing during our recovery. I thought it was really a cool idea, and we were able to help each other emotionally,” says Cubero.

She also received support from staff member and friend, Clint Beckley, an occupational therapist.

“Every day, he would stop up to my room and encourage me to push on. It meant a lot to me to have a friend there,” she says. “Even people I had just met, like Tom Kalina [supervisor, driving rehabilitation] who helped me regain my license, went above and beyond to make me feel supported during my time at Rehab.”

Cubero’s positivity and emotional support was tangible at Bryn Mawr Rehab.

“I remember that Ms. Cubero always had such a positive attitude, and always tried to make the best of every situation that was presented to her,” says Justine Starling, social worker at Bryn Mawr Rehab.

After nearly two weeks of inpatient care at Bryn Mawr Rehab, it came time for Cubero to be discharged. There was only one problem: she wasn’t quite ready to leave.
“When I got my discharge papers, I didn’t want to go home! Fortunately, my family decided that Bryn Mawr Rehab was such an amazing place that I would go there for outpatient therapy, too,” she says.

Over the next two months, Cubero continued to visit Bryn Mawr Rehab’s Outpatient Network for outpatient rehabilitation care. At home, she continued to study her speech therapy worksheets for 15-20 minutes per day. Gradually, she started to feel like she was finally getting back to the woman she recognized before her aneurysm.

“By seeing the other people around me get better; I realized that I must be getting better, too. I always looked forward to going to therapy because of how rewarding it was.”

Now, nine months after her aneurysm, Cubero is back to doing the things she’s always enjoyed. Not only is she back on the tennis court, she’s also golfing, bike riding and walking—things that she admits she used to take for granted. Cubero credits the team at Bryn Mawr Rehab for giving her the confidence and the skills to get back on her feet.

“When you have to learn or re-learn how to do something, you want to feel safe. Every single therapist and person at Bryn Mawr Rehab made me feel that way.”

Brain injury treatment at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital

Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital was one of the first facilities in the country to offer traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, and has remained a leader in the field for more than 30 years. Our brain injury program is the most comprehensive in the region and is a center of excellence. The program is fully accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC) and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Over 400 brain injury patients each year travel to Bryn Mawr Rehab for our industry-leading technology, creative therapeutic approach and compassionate care. Nearly half are survivors of traumatic brain injuries.

For admission to Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital for acute inpatient rehabilitation, call 484.596.6000. To schedule an outpatient appointment for physical, occupational and speech therapy, call 484.596.5000.