The Center for Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Patient Stories

Brett's Story

Every family has traditions. For one particular family, that included an annual holiday ski trip to Vermont. But their trip was cut short two years ago when Brett, an experienced skier and all-around star athlete, attempted a jump he had done many times before. This time, however, he didn't land it. Instead, he landed on his head with such force that his helmet cracked in half.

Brett was air-lifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He was in a coma, having sustained a traumatic brain injury to the left cerebral hemisphere, which, if he survived, would likely compromise his mobility and fine motor skills. Ten days later Brett awoke – with no memory of what had happened.

He was transferred to Kessler's Center for Brain Injury Rehabilitation to begin an intensive program of physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapies. With the support of his family, friends, coaches and treatment team, Brett worked tirelessly – almost relentlessly – to regain function. Slowly, his words returned as did his ability to walk, run and even play tennis. In time, the straight-A student returned to high school and rejoined the tennis team – where he went 5-2 in his senior year.

Brett is now in college, living away from home and learning to juggle life like most other students. He admits he's still somewhat disorganized and continues to work on building compensatory strategies. Despite all that he's been through, the business economics major is confident: "If you have the determination, you can accomplish just about anything. Just give me some time … and I'll prove what I'm capable of."

William's Story

Many years ago, William worked on the electrical plans for the construction of the building that is now home to one of Kessler's three hospital campuses. He never imagined that someday he would be a patient here, but when he was struck by a car and sustained extensive injuries, including a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures, the choice of where to go for rehabilitation was clear. He wanted to come to Kessler.

"I had heard about Kessler through the years; the place has a great reputation. Now I know why. Everyone there is extremely dedicated to their work … to doing what's right, what's best for the patients. The fact that they're so passionate about their work comes through in everything they do. Sure, they pushed me hard, but they did that for one reason: to help me get better," says William.

According to his treatment team, William was determined to overcome his many injuries. Slowly, but surely, he was able to regain his strength, restore his balance and mobility, improve his coordination and learn new strategies to assist him with memory and other cognitive deficits. "You don't realize how dependent you can be on others until you go through something like this. I was fortunate to have such strong people to lean on.

"I can't thank my doctors, nurses, therapists … really everyone at Kessler, for everything they have done for me," he says. "They gave me back my life … my life. And that's quite a gift."

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