Overcoming The Odds With The Help Of A Physical Therapist

About 7 months after graduating with my master’s in Speech-Language Pathology, my grandmother died of cancer. In order to attend her out-of-state funeral, I put on pause my commitments at work and my hobbies of running, rock climbing and playing several instruments. Just a week before Christmas and en route to the funeral, I was a buckled passenger in a major motor vehicle accident. I sustained a serious brain injury and broke some bones including several spinal vertebrae and my jaw. I was in hospitals for a total of 72 days then was discharged home. At that time in my recovery I mobilized mostly by wheelchair. Medical professionals were guarded in their predictions for my future abilities to return to running and holding a job.

I was blessed to have Monique as my first outpatient physical therapist. Her bright smile and big laugh could fill a room. She gave me hope in returning to a fulfilling life in spite of the challenges I now faced. I also had the vital support of family and friends who encouraged my daily commitment to completing her recommendations. Combining Monique’s continual encouragement and educated guidance to my hard work and determination, we made an all-star team. From being bed bound to using a walker, using a cane to walking independently, I had Monique’s experience and encouragement to support me through the ups and downs of rehab. When I was working hard to make the transition from wheelchair to walking Monique encouraged me on, saying that one day we’d complete a 5k together. It seemed impossible in those early days but this past May, Monique and I completed a walk/run 5k together about two years after the accident! It was very inspiring to complete that accomplishment alongside the Physical Therapist who had motivated me to even begin the journey of rehabilitation.

Laura Morgan

About a year and a half after the accident, Laura began assisting the research section of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s department of Speech Pathology. She has recently begun shadowing in the clinical section of Walter Reed’s Speech Pathology department. Laura has already given 6 presentations on her experience being on “the other side of the Speech Pathology table” at locations including several graduate level classrooms and in July will present at the National Institutes of Health. Laura believes her experiences as a patient will allow her to one day provide others with empathetic and encouraging Speech Therapy services.