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Brain Injury Recovery [Joan's Story] (2016)

Joan suffered from a major fall that resulted in months of rehabilitation at a rehab facility. She came to Cognitive FX to further her rehabilitation progress.


Joan Durfrey



Mode of Injury:



Date of Injury:

Date of Treatment:


"This program is very worthwhile, it helped me get back on the path of having a normal life again."

My name is Joan Dorothy. I'm 66 years old. And, uh, I live in a small rural community and I'm an artist by trade. And, um, I was out one day, uh, trimming a large tree with a chain saw. Uh, I was up about on a 10-foot ladder which put my head about 15 feet above the ground.

And as I was cutting with the chainsaw, I heard a crack above my head and I thought something was falling down on me, so I leaned back. And as I leaned back, I saw the chainsaw go deep into my thumb and I just blacked out and went backwards, and ended up hitting my head on a large boulder on the ground which landed me in the hospital.

And, uh, with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and an endural hemorrhage, and a lot of residual damage wrapped around the side of my head. Um, I was in the hospital for four days. And

[clears throat] they released me to a full-service doctor-nurse rehab center [clears throat] to watch the bleeding because I was borderline and they wanted to have me close by in case they needed to do surgery to release the pressure. And when they released me, they gave me a w-, a walker and said, um, "Just walk around the block four times," and that was my release instructions.

And at the time, I couldn't even walk. To stand up, I felt like I was walking on a floor full of balloons. I, I had no balance whatsoever. Um, noises were 10 times louder. Uh, people were extremely annoying because I couldn't stand the, the chaos in the background or multiple people speaking to me.

I just couldn't handle it. I just wanted to scream, um, because the anxiety was so high, because for some reason I just couldn't, I couldn't process everything that was going on. And smells were 10 times smellier. Everything was, was intolerable, basically.

Um, in the rehab center, um, they basically informed me that there was no treatment for this kind of an injury. "And being 66 years old, it would be like breaking your hip," they said. Uh, "You'll never really recover.In fact, if anything, you'll probably go downhill a lot faster.And this could bring the early onset of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease."

So that didn't sit very well with me. Uh, I'm not a person that's a quitter or a give-up person. But being 66 and being in a medical environment, I thought, "Well, this is what these people do every day.Could that be true?"

And as the days went by, I noticed everyone around me that had had accidents, they were getting worked on. They were working out on weights, they were having physical therapy. They were getting better, they were getting released. And I was still just laying in my bed, um, wondering when the bleeding was gonna stop and what was going to occur after that happened.

So I was in this rehab center for, um, a month and about four days. And while I was there, I requested to have an occupational therapist come, a speech therapist come, uh, to work with me because I had a lot of problems with my speech, uh, with my hearing, with my eyesight, with my balance.

And I thought, "Well, that's one area that maybe she could help me learn to talk again and that might help my thinking a little better." Because I was very confused, had terrible headaches, had horrible short-term memory loss. You could tell me something and I could hear it but it just didn't go anywhere after that.

Um, so I knew there were some serious problems, but I felt like if somebody could come and work with me, I could see that would be a starting point and maybe that would go somewhere. Fortunately for me, this speech therapist worked at Cognitive FX. And, um, even though she told me that there are places that I could go and things to do that, that would improve, unfortunately, it would be all out-of-pocket, but I may wanna look into that sometime.

I remembered that, and I just kind of scratched it on a little piece of paper somewhere, and, of course, lost it. And, uh, later on, while I was at the rehab center, I remembered, "brain injury." And so I went into the computer that was in the, the local area and I just entered, Google, "brain injury."

And I got a lot of stuff to read. And then I put in, "brain injury treatment centers." And hardly anything came up. I think there was one place back East. Uh, there was one place in Texas, um, and then there was Cognitive FX right in Provo, Utah which is just one hour drive from my home. So I was really excited about that.

I called and I got on the waiting list because I knew it was a study. It wasn't, let alone...or available, uh, to very many people because even though they've been around a few years, um, it is a study. And so it's not like it's in the Yellow Pages for, um, uh, brain trauma, injury patients, and concussion patients.

So I thought, even though it, it, it was expensive, I thought even if I'm just a study, that I could help somebody in the future [unsteady voice] find a place to go to get help, it would be worth paying that money. So right now I'm paying it back, right now.

Um, I went through the five-day process. And fortunately, they had accepted me and I was able to come up with the money. Um, it was a huge sacrifice to do it, it was our savings back-up for... My husband lost his job.

We have one-and-a-half month's of salary. So it was kind of risky. Um, and when I went through the program, it seemed remedial at the time because there were just video games and exercises. And it was hard and I really had to stretch myself. But I made some huge realizations that I still have a brain, I just needed to do certain things to exercise it like I saw other people doing in the rehab center for their muscles, and their bones, and their straining muscles.

I needed to push my brain in order to stimulate it enough to reroute itself. So it wasn't my brain that was dead or missing like I thought, it's just the roadways, the pathways to that part of the brain, the center of the brain were damaged. And I needed to just know how to fix that and that's what Cognitive FX did for me.

They gave me the starting point through the functional MRI, and then I had to do the work, and it was specialized for the injuries that I had in the areas that I needed to work on. And then I just worked really hard at it. And at the end of this program, I had another functional MRI that shows massive improvement.

So I know that this program is very worthwhile and, and it's helped me get back on the path of having some sort of a normal life again. And I'm very grateful for that. Um, everyone here has been extremely, uh, understanding. It's great to be with people that understand your illness because nobody else I know does.

[laughs] My family just thinks I've lost it and I'm...that I'm crazy and very emotional. And now I have control of my emotions, I have control of my thoughts. I can think through what I need to do on a daily basis to make this improve over time. And because of their passion, um, I feel that passion too. So I'm doing this video to encourage you to say, yes, take the chance.

Spend money, it's worth it. And I'm very grateful.