Kristin Smith Regains Function Several Years After Brain Injury

A traffic accident in December of 2008 started a long journey for Kristin Smith of Macungie. From her thoughts of being “stuck in the 1980s” to having issues holding conversations and reading, Kristin has come a long way. As new therapy options became available to her, Kristin has made steady progress toward regaining physical and cognitive function.

Kristin became a patient at the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in 2008 after receiving care at Reading Hospital following her car accident, which resulted in a moderate to severe brain injury and lower back pain. Kristin experienced short-term memory loss and says she was told she often would think it was the 1980s. Fatigue, balance, cognitive and vision problems were some of her other challenges.

After starting the recovery process in the inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Allentown, Kristin transitioned to Good Shepherd’s outpatient care, doing physical, occupational and speech therapy. A neuropsychology evaluation in July of 2009 resulted in Kristin adding cognitive therapy to her care at Good Shepherd.

Kristin’s journey continued when she had eye surgery in 2010. Vestibular (balance) therapy and cognitive therapy followed that surgery, but Kristin still did not feel well enough to resume many everyday activities. Her stamina was poor and any mental activity was very draining, including just making conversation and doing basic head and eye movements. Recovery time needed to be built into every day so that all of her issues would not worsen.

In early 2013 Kristin connected with Good Shepherd’s emerging Vision Therapy program. Good Shepherd was one of the first rehabilitation sites in the country to offer vision rehab, and in 2013 its therapists were learning more about the benefits of special vision therapies for patients with Kristin’s functional issues.

After an evaluation by a neurodevelopmental optometrist and a confirmation that she had vision deficiencies with her eye muscles, Kristin began vision rehab at Good Shepherd’s outpatient neurorehabilitation program. She also added Interactive Metronome therapy, a rehabilitation technology that provides assessment and training on information processing, timing and motor planning skills.

Kristin was very active prior to the accident. She ran and was physically fit. “Prior to the accident I was learning to run a successful business with my father and brother, and I would be on my feet all day and carrying 60 pounds of concrete mix,” she says.

As Kristin’s recovery continues, she says she is feeling better and gaining endurance. “My stamina is improving and I continue to exercise regularly at a gym. Despite my physical limitations from the vestibular and visual issues, exercise had always been an integral piece of my treatment plan, so I have managed to stay strong – conditioning and rebuilding my foundation. My ability to tolerate up and down movements has improved, and I can do 100 push-ups by breaking them up into 3 sets.”

Kristin says speech therapy at Good Shepherd taught her strategies that she is applying to all aspects of her life, such as basic problem solving skills and breaking things down into smaller group or timeframes. She also is happy to be more engaged in conversation.

“I love cooking, so I am able to do more in the kitchen,” adds Kristin. “Plus, I am able to work several hours a month on paperwork for my family’s hardware store. I still become fatigued when doing cognitive work, but it is getting much better for me.” Kristin is working towards driving again.

Thanks to the specialty programs like vision therapy, rehabilitation technologies like Interactive Metronome and the expertise of Good Shepherd’s therapists, Kristin continues to make progress toward going Beyond Limits in her recovery.

For more information on Good Shepherd's programs and services, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us.