From Traumatic Brain Injury to Recovery to Role Model
Like a typical teen, K’hron G. loves music and time with friends, does well in school, and has already selected his college of choice as well as his major.
But few teens have had to overcome the extreme challenges that K’hron faced after sustaining a TBI in a serious car accident two years ago. When the car he was riding in hit a tree head-on, K’hron was catapulted through the front windshield where he had his own head-on collision with the tree. K’hron’s frontal lobes were, virtually, destroyed and he was left completely blind.
The brain’s frontal lobes direct Executive Function, which controls memory as well as the ability to form concepts, think abstractly, and manage complex tasks. With his frontal lobes severely compromised, K’hron’s prognosis for a recovery to a high level of functioning and independence appeared dire.
K’hron arrived at Special Tree in a wheelchair, with a tracheotomy, wearing a helmet and in need of a prosthetic eye. “He was very upset, aggressive, combative, and didn’t want to participate in anything,” said Occupational Therapist Angela West. “Functionally, he wasn’t doing anything for himself and was really in denial. He wasn’t in school.
To help K’hron achieve independence, his treatment team helped him set small personal goals for recovery to regain physical movement, build cognitive and life skills, and adapt to being blind. He worked closely with West to become more independent at home and in school, and began using adaptive equipment. Intensive physical therapy helped K’hron learn to walk, which he found challenging and very painful. “Severe contractures in his left hip, ankle and knee created constant and severe pain,” said PT Sharon Roy. “Sharon pushed me real hard,” said K’hron. “She did the most by helping me get out of “the” wheelchair. I never said “my” wheelchair because I wasn’t interested in owning this period of my life. I was just passing through.” K’hron now walks independently using only a white cane for navigation. Speech Therapist Natalie Perrin helped him with reading, comprehending and memorizing. Massage Therapist Sunny Walker-Campbell relieved K’hron’s sore muscles and Recreational Therapist, Mandy Ohrt helped him to push himself. “I learned that, if there’s anything I can do, I can get it done,” said K’hron.
“This is why K’hron is so amazing,” West said. “He’s overcome a lot. He doesn’t have the frontal lobes we have yet he’s recovered a lot of Executive Function and made great progress in such short time.” According to Derica Scribner, Program Manager, Children Services, K’hron is now working at grade level in school and she firmly believes that he will have a job someday.
As K’hron continues to make gains in his recovery, his perspective on his injury shows a wisdom beyond his 17 years. “When I first found out I was blind after the car crash, I was mad, depressed and confused,” said K’hron. “Now I got over it. Everything I was mad about, confused about, I understand now.”
While the relative speed of K’hron’s recovery is remarkable, what’s most remarkable is that he seems at peace with what happened to him. Observed Scribner, “he’s a leader, the quiet type, who listens and gives observations and encouragement.”
“When I see kids in therapy, it’s hard,” said K’hron. “But, I tell them, you can do it! If you do it, I will clap my hands for you because I know you did it.”
K’hron has taken it upon himself to be a mentor to other students, even adults. According to West, people look up to him as a source of strength. “K’hron has a very positive outlook. He sees his injury as what he’s been given and he needs to move forward."
K’hron’s mom, Keila, couldn’t agree more. “He tries to help everyone even when they are trying to help him,” she said. “My son is an amazing young man.”