Friday, December 13, 2019 started out like any other for, then 17-year-old, Kaitlyn Childs. She was mid-way through first semester of Grade 12, excelling in her mostly science-based classes, while being busy with her extracurricular activities including music, dance, and playing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Drumline. Kaitlyn was excited to be planning what her life after high school would look like.
While travelling on the perimeter on this fateful day, Kaitlyn and her friend were hit on the passenger side by an out-of-control vehicle. Kaitlyn, the passenger in the vehicle, took the brunt of the impact and had to be airlifted to HSC Winnipeg via STARS helicopter.
Kaitlyn had suffered a significant brain injury as a result of the accident that fractured her skull, among other injuries including three breaks in her pelvis, and a ruptured bladder. Time stopped for Kaitlyn and her family.
After three weeks at HSC Winnipeg, of which Kaitlyn has no memory of, she was transferred to Riverview Health Centre’s Acquired Brian Injury Rehabilitation program – the only program of its kind in Manitoba – to begin her rehabilitation. This highly-specialized team is made up of dedicated professional including doctors, nurses, healthcare aids, clerical staff, social workers, as well a therapists from physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Due to her significant injuries, Kaitlyn was instructed not to walk for six weeks. This was quite a change for this active and vibrant young woman. The Physical and Occupational Therapists at Riverview worked daily with Kaitlyn to help her maintain her strength and balance so that when she was able to walk again she had the muscle tone to do so.
Her brain injury also impacted her speech, including the ability to find the right words to communicate what she was thinking. She was uncertain what her future would look like, but gives credit to her stubbornness and the staff at Riverview Health Centre.
“I have been stubborn my whole life so I was determined that nothing would hold me back in getting my old life back again. I am thankful that the staff at Riverview let me push boundaries while ensuring I was safe. This helped me to feel like I was in control of my recovery.”
The Speech Therapy team at Riverview were able help her find her words so she could communicate more effectively with her family and friends, who would visit daily.
Because of donors like you, the Rehabilitation team at Riverview Health Centre have the tools they need to provide exceptional care to patients, like Kaitlyn. What an incredible gift – thank you!
Kaitlyn spent just over a month at Riverview Health Centre working with the rehabilitation team. When asked about her experience with staff, she has this to say: “The communication from the staff was exceptional not only to me, but my entire family. They always took the time to make sure we understood what was happening with my care and why it was happening. They made sure to answer every question we had…and my Mom had a lot of questions!”
Kaitlyn’s ultimate goal was to get back to school and graduate grade 12 with her classmates.
Thanks to her hard work and the dedicated rehabilitation team at Riverview Health Centre, Kaitlyn was back in school for second semester, still sporting her halo but walking on her own! She graduated in June 2020 on the Honour Role and was the recipient of a Teachers Recognition Award for her hard work and determination.
Today, Kaitlyn is pursuing a teaching degree at Université de Saint-Boniface with the ultimate goal of teaching high school science in French. She is still passionate about music – teaching percussion and bass at a local music school – and has been a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Drumline for four years now.
Donors like you help to ensure that patients like Kaitlyn have an enriching experience at Riverview, through support of equipment, programs, and activities that help to rebuild the body and mind.
Story written November 2022