Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Grand Island teen reclaims her independence at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

September 01, 2022

Sweet and full of spunk, 13-year-old Jayda Hayes pushed her limits at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. In April, the Grand Island, Nebraska, native sustained a spinal cord injury in a swing set accident while babysitting. She was taken to CHI Health St. Francis in Grand Island, where she had a seven-hour surgery.

“When I look back, it was foggy,” Abbie Hayes, Jayda’s mother, recalled. “It was very intense not knowing what was going to happen next. Just seeing her lay there; it was tough. It was a lot.”

Following a stay at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Jayda arrived at Madonna’s pediatric specialty program on May 23rd.

“My emotions were everywhere,” Abbie said. “You don’t know what is going to happen. She had a feeding tube and a tracheostomy tube in. She had just a tiny bit of movement in her shoulders and her hands.”

Each patient at Madonna has an attending physician, and Jayda started working with Dr. Adam Kafka, a medical director at Madonna’s Lincoln Campus.

“When she first came to us, she was still on a ventilator,” Kafka said. “She still had a tracheostomy, breathing tube and a feeding tube. Initially, it was working on her medical stability, especially from a respiratory standpoint. We worked with the pediatrician and the pulmonary team, and we were able to get her completely off of the ventilator and then get her tracheostomy tube removed. That freed up her independence in therapy to do more. She was able to focus in on regaining skills using her wheelchair, feeding herself, even doing some standing. Jayda made excellent progress throughout her time at Madonna.”

The removal of her tracheostomy tube turned out to be a huge step towards independence for Jayda, and it happened on July 4th. The national holiday will forever hold a deeper significance for Jayda and her mother.

“The doctors are amazing,” Abbie said. “I love the fact that Dr. Kafka is very age-appropriate. He talks to her like she’s an adult. He doesn’t treat her like a baby, and that was huge for her.”

Like many teens her age, Jayda enjoys a passion for shoes, and she put hers to the test on Madonna’s Lokomat, a robotic treadmill training system that assists with walking functions. This technology can monitor how fast the patient walks and how much assistance the robotic legs give the patient.

Meanwhile, a visit from horses during recreational therapy helped Jayda regain her upper body strength. Madonna partners with Windsong Equitherapy, which provides therapeutic horseback riding, to integrate horses into therapy sessions helping patients regain confidence and bring fun into therapy sessions.

“I really liked the horses,” Jayda said. “It was fun and relaxing. It was hard to be able to pick up the brush and pet the horse, but now I can use my own hair brush to do my own hair.”

With family and friends cheering her on, Jayda recently returned home to Grand Island, and she hopes her story inspires others.

“I think that it’s helpful here, and if you try your hardest, you can achieve things you didn’t think you could,” Jayda said.

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