One Small Connection: Children in Rehab for TBI
Hospital Executive Amy Mansue tells the story of a child with TBI who only started to progress after she made a connection with a security guard who worked in the rehab hospital.
[Amy Mansue] What I tell parents often is that there'll be somebody in the facility you'll click with. Sometimes it's a therapist, sometimes it's a doc, sometimes it's a nurse, sometimes it's one of the guys in environmental services that you just click with. That person helps you see joy in your child, and then you start to see success and you'll always equate that person with that success that they achieved. It creates a bond. It creates a bond with the facility, it creates a bond with that physical individual—whether it's a therapist or somebody else— and that connection is something that both a treating caregiver and the parent and child hold onto as part of the joy that happened in this otherwise awful time period. We had a little girl who lived in our nursing home who had a traumatic brain injury, and she had this vacant look always on her eyes, and we couldn't connect with her—not the nursing staff, the therapist—we just couldn't get through, although we knew intently we knew she was in there. Our kids in our nursing home go out to school every day and they come back in, and so the security guard would watch her come off the bus with her caregiver— her nurse— and bring in, and for whatever reason, he made some laughter or some joke, and she looked at him. She caught his eye, and so we figured out that there was some type of connection between him and her, and so we figured out—one of the nurses told one of the other staff person, and as things happened in very small organizations, all of a sudden, we had a plan. We arranged that when she came off the bus during the day he would do his rounds through the hospital to make sure everything was safe, but he would take her with him. Through that exchange, she started to come to life. He was the first person who she actually made a verbal sound to, and then we worked on that in speech, and then she began to sing, and then all of a sudden, this whole thing came out of this one small connection that he had with her. Clearly that was not in his security guard job description, but that's part of the responsibility of working at Children's Specialized is that every person, regardless of where you are, has a responsibility that when you have a chance to help, whether it's a child or a parent, that you step in and that you do that, and that even if you don't have the skills technically to do that, we're going to figure it out, because that could be the breakthrough time, and this little girl made so much progress that she left the nursing home and now is living someplace else that's more independent and that she's thriving, and I don't know that that would have happened if it hadn't been for that interaction. They do touch your heart, and they're supposed to touch your heart.
Posted on BrainLine August 8, 2013.
Produced by Sharon Ladin, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.
Amy Mansue is president and chief executive officer of Children's Specialized Hospital. She provides leadership to an extremely skilled team of clinicians and therapists providing specialized care for children.