Memories of Time in Rehab

What is Left of Kevin’s Memories of Time in Rehab

Kevin Part Three

The length of amnesia is a very good indicator of how serious the brain injury is. A loss of memory for more than a month indicates very serious brain injury. Kevin was in the University Hospital in Madison just over a month. He not only doesn’t remember his time in the University Hospital, but also he does not remember his transfer to Janesville, where he woke up very groggy and didn’t know what was going on. He starts to have memories of time in rehab when his time begins in Janesville.

He was with other people who were recovering from major surgeries and strokes, so he called the floor he was on, “the rehab floor.”

The first day he was there he fell out of bed. They put someone in his room to watch him on the night shift, because they didn’t want him rolling out of bed again and hurting himself. As he was amnestic for the injury, he did not know why he was there. He kept wanting to go back to work or go back home. It took a couple of days for him to even begin to ponder why he was there. He had no interest in staying in the hospital because he was in denial about his injury. He wanted out and wanted out fast. In the hospital, he had become confused and agitated.

The doctors put him on different medications, including Depakote, Effexor, and Neurontin.  The medications helped his depression and anxiety, prevented seizures, and helped him not be so aggressive.

Kevin finally started to realize he had a serious problem on the third day of staying in Janesville. He began to see that he was in denial about the severity of his injury. They had to push him around in a wheelchair. He didn’t want to be so dependent on others and an assistive device. To reduce his dependency, he was given a walker to use, which helped him relearn how to walk. While in rehab he got physical therapy and vocational therapy with the hopes of helping him return to gainful employment. He was also in speech therapy, where they had him doing very basic pronunciations of letters.

Kevin refers to his time in Janesville as “daycare for adults.” He was under constant supervision. But when he was discharged home, he immediately starting having serious problems at home with his wife and daughter. See our next blog for more about those problems.

During the transition period which is so important for recovery, he was actually in denial about the severity of his injury. He wanted everything to go back to normal, so he decided to minimize his injury and act like nothing had happened. But something had happened. He was behaving more aggressively and getting mad at the smallest things like a mess not being cleaned up.

It wasn’t until he was asked to do something that involved thinking, like how to balance a checkbook, that he started to realize he was having a serious deficits. He couldn’t think clearly or have the problems register in his mind. He knew something wasn’t right. This was an important path to acceptance. The reality of the situation is that he was in a coma for 12 to 14 days and wasn’t the same person as he was before.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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