Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Best Holiday Gifts

As an SLP, one of my greatest joys is to witness the success of the clients and patients I serve. Each of these individuals have left their mark on me, and I often tell them I am learning just as much from them as they are learning through me. I think of many of these strong and inspiring individuals after they complete their time under my care.

The holiday season is a popular time for communication (I write this as I count the greeting cards on display in my home, covered in bright images of wintery scenes and children smiling). And so, at the turn of the yearly calendar, I sometimes hear from a former client reaching out to keep me posted on their progress and express gratitude. What a gift!

This year I got three amazing gifts from former clients, all of whom suffered devastating accidents, and all of whom made incredible inspiring recoveries. All three were individuals with brain injury and all three have returned to their life activities from before the injury (work and/or school). This is a particularly noteworthy feat because the effects of brain injury can be life altering and often permanent. According to Velzen et al 2009, Only "about 40% of the people with traumatic or non-traumatic ABI are able to return to work after 1 or 2 years. Among those with acquired traumatic brain injury a substantial proportion of the subjects were either not able to return to their former work or unable to return permanently." But these three were shining stars!

1. First, I received an email from a young woman who I worked with over three years ago. She was in a cheerleading accident which resulted in a brain injury that severely affected her balance, coordination, and memory. All these years later, she had kept the "Good Luck" card I wrote her when she left the hospital and emailed me to share her progress. She has returned to college and is now completing her senior year! She writes about her story here [] and here []. 

2. Then I received a Holiday Card from a patient who was injured while riding a scooter on vacation visiting family. The front of the card showed was a photo of the whole family, smiling, and all wearing bike helmets.   And the text expressed gratitude for their blessings and wishes for a safe and healthy year. I'm so impressed at the loving and creative way they shared the message to "stay safe with a helmet!"

3. The third gift: Today, I received an email from a former client who was injured at work. His career is in engineering and needs to be very thorough, organized, and creative on the job. He wrote today with a happy new year message and shared that he has been recognized and given a bonus for an excellent job done at work. 

I treasure these messages from my former clients. Their hard work and tenacity inspires me that anything is possible! 

What can you achieve in 2014?

Velzen, M.(2009) How many people return to work after acquired brain injury?: a systematic review. Brain Injury. Jun;23 (6):473-88.