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Family standing together at a hospital

Motivated by family: Connie Gardner’s return to what matters most after acquired brain injury

Just ten days after giving birth to her first child, Silas, by c-section, Connie Gardner began to experience a tremendous headache. Just moments after handing Silas over to her husband, Matt, Connie abruptly became unresponsive. 

Connie had suffered an acquired brain injury — a severe brain bleed and subsequent hydrocephalus when an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) ruptured in her brain. In November 2020, after nearly one month in a self and then medically induced coma at a local neuro-ICU, Connie arrived at Nexus Specialty Hospital in a minimally conscious state.

Over her two-month stay at Nexus, Connie made outstanding progress. She began to stand up from her bed and take short walks around the hospital. Over time, she began to improve her language comprehension and become fully conversational again. She worked with occupational therapists on tasks geared towards Connie being able to take care of herself and her baby again when she returned home.

“The staff was fantastic — so helpful, so knowledgeable,” Connie said. “They’re amazing people. I really felt like they cared about me as a person.”

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Matt, Silas, and Connie’s family were unable to visit Connie in the hospital. Matt felt that Nexus valued the role of family in the recovery process and worked hard to include Connie’s family in her recovery. An iPad was made accessible in Connie’s room so that she could FaceTime Silas and other family members daily. Matt said that he felt Nexus was advocating on their behalf.

Connie was discharged from Nexus Specialty Hospital in December 2020 and began inpatient rehabilitation at a local medical facility. Today, Connie attends weekly sessions of physical, occupational, and speech therapies, as well as music therapy and vision therapy.

Connie’s recovery process has exceeded her and her family’s expectations, and Matt attributes much of Connie’s progress to their partnership with Nexus throughout Connie’s rehabilitation. Connie is enjoying her role as a mother and looks forward to bath time and bedtime with Silas every night.

Connie continues to make progress every day and her spirits are high that she will continue to improve. “Don’t ever give up,” she advises patients in her similar situation. “It will get better.”

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