They say most accidents happen close to home. For high school junior Rebecca Ressler of Cherokee, Alabama, that theory rang true April 8, 2011.
Rebecca left home that day to run a quick errand, with her parents leaving minutes behind her. Little did Rebecca’s parents know they would find her car only an eighth of a mile away from the house. The car had spun off the road, hit a row of trees and landed in a ditch.
Although wearing her seatbelt, Rebecca’s body had been thrown over toward the passenger-side window, breaking the glass and hitting trees as the car slammed against them. Rebecca was unconscious, bleeding and not breathing. Her parents were able to revive her and called for emergency assistance.
After paramedics stabilized Rebecca for transportation, she was air lifted to Huntsville Hospital where a traumatic brain injury team began its work. She suffered several skull fractures, a broken jaw and fractured ribs. Every bone on the right side of her face was broken, and there was bleeding in the brain.
After spending 14 days on a ventilator in the hospital, Rebecca was finally able to breathe on her own. Yet, there was still much work to be done.
Rebecca’s parents chose to send their daughter to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of North Alabama in Huntsville. Once she was admitted, her therapy team assessed her needs and planned a personalized rehabilitation program to meet her needs and goals.
Rebecca had tremendous difficulty swallowing due to the long length of time on the ventilator. Her balance abilities were greatly diminished. Her focus and memory were poor. And she could not conduct daily activities such as showering or dressing on her own.
Yet, after following structured therapy and using advanced technologies like VitalStim® and the Nintendo Wii™, Rebecca made amazing strides. She was able to apply her own makeup, walk up stairs, write and perform problem-solving skills within only seven days of therapy.
“Everyone on my daughter’s team provided positive reinforcement, helping her to know she could reach her goals,” Rebecca’s mother commented. “And they were right.” Today, Rebecca looks forward to her high school graduation and hanging out with friends. She continues to make good grades, drives and works at a part-time job. Now and then she has headaches and some back pain. But, otherwise, the future looks bright.
“HealthSouth made all the difference in the world for my daughter. I cannot thank its staff enough.”