Jeremiah nervously walked the grounds at Blank Children’s Hospital, deep in thought about what the future held. His 8-year-old daughter Lila had been hit by a drunk driver. Even though her injuries were serious, he refused to be bitter or hateful.
“All I’ve ever asked is that people not waste their energy on negative thoughts,” says Jeremiah. “Instead, I wanted people to spend their time thinking positively about Lila and believing in her like we were. I never doubted her.”
Lila’s injuries included a traumatic brain injury, a broken femur, a fracture at the base of her skull, and a broken collar bone. She was put in a medically induced coma for two weeks. After she woke up, the effects of her brain injury could be more clearly seen. Lila’s personality had changed. She began using bad words and biting herself to express discomfort or frustration – things she has never done before. The Lila her family knew seemed to be gone.
Fred Klingbeil, MD, Medical Director of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at ChildServe, became involved in Lila’s care after the accident. His decades of experience as a pediatric physiatrist gave Lila’s parents hope that her brain injury and the difficulties that came with it could be overcome.
“Dr. Fred is the first person who made me believe,” says Jeremiah. “He helped me understand that when it comes to healing, your brain is just like your body – it takes time. We didn’t know what the scale of her injuries would be, but we’ve slowly been able to see her personality and physical strength return.”
After 9 weeks, Lila transferred from Blank to ChildServe’s inpatient rehabilitation brain injury program. Her team at ChildServe had over 100 years of combined experience in rehabilitation, and addressed her multiple needs through physical, occupational, and speech therapies, as well as aquatic and recreational therapies.
Lila was determined to attend the first day of third grade, and she loved proving to her therapists that she was up to the challenging tasks they gave her. ChildServe Physical Therapist Camielle Peterson was part of Lila’s care team, and she witnessed several big milestones in Lila’s recovery.
“When Lila was cleared to put weight on her leg and do aquatic therapy, we had to hold her back from jumping into the pool. She was like a fish with no fear,” says Camielle. “Later in her recovery, Lila was walking with her walker and got frustrated at how the walker slowed her down. She picked up the walker and carried it. We both looked at each other with big eyes, and she said, “I can walk by myself!”
Before Lila was ready to move home, her care team collaborated with her school team to make sure the transition went smoothly. For Camielle, sharing successes and problem solving with a child’s teachers, counselors, and administrative staff is one of best parts of her job.
“Knowing that children like Lila will continue to move forward in life and be successful due to the amazing work our team does here at ChildServe can be very humbling! It is such an honor to work with and learn from these children and their families.”
When Lila moved home, she transitioned to ChildServe’s outpatient therapy clinic for speech and physical therapy to continue improving her communication and strength as she gets back into her typical life and activities.
“Lila has jumped over every hurdle,” says Jeremiah. “She was able to attend the first day of school with her classmates, and her personality returned. That was the most important thing to me. She’s the sweetest girl.”
ChildServe improves the health and well-being of nearly 4,500 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, acquired injuries, and other special healthcare needs.