Thursday, April 15, 2010

And this is why I do what I do.....

I need to share a quick story. I can't give too many details due to confidentiality but I think this is a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life because it was the first extremely touching moment I've seen as a speech pathologist that confirms why I do the things I do.

Throughout grad school, I had a really great professsor who told a few of her personal experiences with patients that would remind her why she loved being a speech pathologist. I remember being touched just listening to her tell each story, but theres just nothing quite like experiencing a similar moment first hand. Today... I had my moment. It was unbelievable.

So I've been working with a patient for maybe a month now. She is very young and was in the hospital because of an accident. (Sorry, can't go in to detail!) Anyway, she had been in the acute part of the hospital for a long time. When she was finally transferred over to the rehab section, which is where I'm interning, she was still basically in the late stages of a coma. We were doing the lowest tasks we could think of just to try to get any type of response. She couldn't answer yes or no questions, couldn't follow simple commands like "squeeze my hand," couldn't track objects with her eyes. For at least a week we were having to physically with hand over hand assistance, make her go through the motions of whatever we were trying to get her to do. We got excited if she would take an object from my hand and put it in a bucket. As a couple of weeks passed, she finally started to answer yes/no questions by pointing to the written word. With more time, she started to identify simple pictures of objects when named. But..we could not get her to voice or even move her mouth at all. We tried hard. It wasn't happening. For a couple of weeks we have been working on writing. We tried to get her to trace letters or shapes, but that required full hand over hand assistance. This week for the first time, she actually took a pencil and wrote her herself. That was a huge accomplishment. But still, there was no sign of initiating any type of communication on her own, and no facial movements or voicing.

And now for the moment. Today, at the end of therapy, my supervisor picked up a stuffed animal that was on the patients tray and said "Now tell me what this is." Honestly, neither one of us expected any type of response. We had been trying to get her to voice or speak for about 4 weeks with no success. BUT, TODAY WAS THE DAY!! She looked at us and with the biggest grin on her face she mouthed the correct word!! We looked at each other and couldn't believe it. So we kept going... My supervisor pointed to a couple of objects and asked her what they were, and she nailed them! Although she still wasn't able to produce any voicing, this was a HUUUUGE accomplishment. We then took her out in the lobby and had her mouth "Goodbye" to the people out there. She did it!! It was unbelievable. She just kept waving to people and mouthing it... and from what I've heard she kept doing it in the rest of her other therapy sessions this afternoon. We screamed, clapped, cried, hugged... I mean it was the best moment EVER.

The patients family member hugged us and thanked us, the patient was grinning from ear to ear, and my supervisor and I cried. haha It was the happiest moment ever. And this is Exactly why I love doing what I do....

1 comment:

  1. Wow thats so awesome! That has to make your job so rewarding!


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