Grade-schooler returns to classroom following brain injury

Grade-schooler returns to classroom following brain injury

Aiden Crouse shares a light moment with retired NASA astronaut and Nebraskan Clayton Anderson during a Skype video chat. Jody Macke, R.N., connected the two space lovers as part of Aiden’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Aiden was a patient at the Alexis Verzal Children’s Rehabilitation Unit at Madonna’s Lincoln Campus.

The Recovery

Seven-year-old Aiden Crouse of Lincoln, Nebraska, had a good excuse for missing school last winter. He was hit by a truck in the crosswalk near Saratoga Elementary on Dec. 8. Aiden suffered a traumatic brain injury that caused his brain to swell. He spent weeks in critical condition in the hospital.

Aiden is the oldest of three children, and loves school, especially science and math. “He’s smart,  funny,  just an amazing child,” said his mother, Hannah. When Aiden needed the next step in his recovery, Hannah and her husband Floyd, chose the Alexis Verzal Children’s Rehabilitation Unit at Madonna’s Lincoln Campus. 

Days before Christmas, Aiden admitted to the specialized pediatric unit weak and unresponsive. “He literally couldn’t do anything,” said Scott Fandrich, physical therapist. Gradually Aiden learned to sit up, maneuver a wheelchair and throw a ball. Teachers in the Kit’s Academy Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC) kept Aiden on track with his schoolwork.

A big morale booster for Aiden was meeting retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson. Jody Macke, RN, tapped into Aiden’s love of space to connect Aiden with Clayton through a Skype video chat. Aiden came well-prepared with questions for the astronaut that he had researched during his therapy in TLC.

Visits from University of Nebraska-Lincoln baseball players, who participated in his physical therapy sessions by shooting hoops and playing catch, also lifted Aiden’s spirits. The athletes invited Aiden to Memorial Stadium where he got out of his wheelchair and walked across the football field. It was impressive progress for the young boy.

Throughout his inpatient stay and then months of outpatient therapy, Aiden made incredible progress. His classmates cheered when he returned to the classroom last spring. Today, he’s still that inquisitive, smart, witty boy who couldn’t wait to start third grade.

We applaud Aiden’s upbeat attitude throughout his rehabilitation journey and award him an A+ on his recovery report card!

Aiden works on his reading comprehension in the TLC, Madonna’s on-site school, with Nova Adams, therapeutic educational coordinator.

Therapeutic Learning Center

The Kit’s Academy Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC) at the Lincoln Campus and a similar one at the Omaha Campus, is an on-site, classroom-based program allowing school-aged patients to continue academic pursuits with an educational specialist during their recovery. Children, adolescents and young adults in college are exposed to real-life challenges within the classroom and work with their therapy team to overcome any limitations.

Madonna’s educational specialists also serve as liaisons to the schools, helping teachers and staff understand what accommodations a student needs to be successful in returning to the academic setting. TLC services are offered at no cost to patients and are solely dependent on the support of generous donors.

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