Ashley Tammen, a 19-year-old co-ed from Ft. Hayes State suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident on Sept. 26, 2007. Ashley was hospitalized for six weeks before coming to Madonna. She was inpatient for two months and then enrolled in Madonna’s Rehabilitation Day Program where she made significant strides in her outpatient therapy. Almost three months post-accident, Ashley was reunited with family and friends back home in Hays, Kan.
Ashley was grateful to the Madonna staff who helped her regain her independence and stayed in contact with some of the team. Jane Booth, development coordinator in admissions, remembers when Ashley was at Madonna last fall for an evaluation and stopped into her office, “She was extremely poised. I kept remembering the grim diagnosis she’d been given before coming to Madonna and thought, ‘Wow, look at her now!’”
Ashley has returned to college part-time to purse a business degree and has even returned to riding her horse, Sugar, under close supervision.
Ashley wrote the following article during winter break from school that reflects on her accident and her positive rehabilitation experience at Madonna.
This is a story about myself, a teenager who lost it all and had to relearn to talk and walk again. A car accident in September threw me from the vehicle, resulting in a C1-C2 spinal cord fracture. I do not remember that September night, they say I never will; it’s the brain’s way of protecting me. Other injuries I suffered from included nerve damage, fracture to the left eye wall and a traumatic brain injury. My parents never lost hope, although they were told I would never come out of a coma and would be a vegetable in bed the rest of my life.
My parents realized I needed the best rehabilitation possible to recover and sent me to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb. After being at Madonna, six weeks after the day of my car accident, the fog lifted, and I became coherent and regained consciousness. Many think I woke up immediately, but that was not the case at all. I did not wake up immediately; I went through stages to come out of a coma.
I had to reach a stage four before I was transitioned down to the first floor of the hospital to the traumatic brain injury unit where I would receive more intense therapy.
Typical therapies for me included speech therapy to work on voice and emotion; occupational therapy to regain the motor skills in my left arm; physical therapy to exercise my legs and begin walking; and various activities at the Therapeutic Learning Center, which worked on studies and prepared me for returning to college.
During my stay at the hospital, I never heard a negative word from the therapists or nurses, only positive. Nurses and therapists only mentioned the positive improvements to my parents. After I was well enough, I left the inpatient therapies in the hospital.
Although I wanted to return back home to friends and family, I was told by my parents to stay at Madonna and attend their Rehab Day program where I could receive the best possible rehabilitation. Through this program, I lived in a house next to the hospital and attended therapies daily. I wanted to get home very badly, but deep inside me knew that this was my best solution to making a full recovery.
I attended most of the same type of therapy, but with new therapists. At first I believed the therapists pushed me too hard, but I never said “no” to a task and always gave it my best effort. I now realize they pushed me because they knew I could do it and thank them for never letting me give up.
My mother tried her best to convince my team of therapists to let me stay and continue therapy, but they were running out of activities for me to do and perform, so I was released from the Rehab Day program.
After leaving Madonna, I finally returned home for good. It was an amazing feeling to be back with family and friends, but I missed all the new friends I made in Lincoln, including nurses and therapists.
In order to make a full recovery, I had to meet fine details in my occupational and physical therapy, so I attended therapy in Hays, Kan. After being in less intense therapy in Hays, I realized Madonna was the best place for my rehabilitation. I now recommend Madonna to patients who need good rehabilitation, and hope everyone else will, too!