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Brain injury survivor smiling years after discharge

A brain injury patient story: Olivia Guindon is paying it forward

In 2016 Olivia Guindon was admitted to Nexus Children’s Hospital with a massive brain injury following a serious motor vehicle accident. She was a fighter and had overcome immense physical challenges including surgery and a 21-day coma. Olivia participated in intense physical, occupational, and speech therapy before transitioning into outpatient therapy. Nexus clinical teams were astounded at her tenacity and determination to make a full recovery. Her competitive nature left her eager to stand up from her wheelchair and relearn everyday tasks, but her true motivator was something much more special: her non-negotiable goal of getting back on the softball field.  

Olivia established a close bond with one of her Nexus therapists, Brenda, during her sessions, and the duo worked together to build up Olivia’s strength so she could get back into her catcher’s stance for the first time. Brenda and her team never let Olivia quit, even when she expressed that she wasn’t sure if she could push through.

“All of the therapists at Nexus were amazing,” Olivia said. “I would not be where I am today without them. They were very kind and provided everything I needed. They pushed me and believed in me.”

She also credits her supportive family for her successful recovery. From enrolling Olivia in the region’s top softball camps, to countless car rides to her therapy sessions and the gym, Olivia’s family was behind her every step of the way.

Today, Olivia is pursuing her dream of playing college softball. As a freshman at the University of Massachusetts, she is competing for a starting spot as the team’s catcher.

“I am so proud of myself for not giving up,” Olivia said. She was recruited by the D1 school as a junior in high school after more than three years of workouts, training, and rehabilitation following her brain injury. She continued, “I was going to do whatever it took and work as hard as it took. I’m proud of myself for sticking with it even though I wanted to quit so many times.” Olivia is most excited for her upcoming UTSA softball game against Georgia early in 2022.

Off the field, Olivia is attending UMass for a degree in physical therapy to one day work with those who have special needs. She explained, “I want to serve others the same way I was served in that hard time in my life. When I was young, I never had anyone my age helping me through it. I want to walk with others to help them through what I went through.”

Olivia has already had several opportunities to mentor patients recovering from car accident injuries and is passionate about making sure others who are suffering don’t feel they are alone.

Olivia is thriving in her college life, chasing her dreams in and out of sports. When asked to share a piece of advice to children and adolescents at Nexus Children’s Hospital, Olivia said with confidence, “Take it day by day. Set goals and think small; don’t get wrapped up in the big picture.”

Olivia is an inspiration to the patients, physicians, and medical staff at Nexus, and to anyone who has overcome challenges in their life, against all odds. She is living proof, that in her words, “Anything is possible.”

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