Not Just the Flu

When C.G. started to experience fever, headaches, muscle pain and nausea, his parents thought it was just a bad case of the flu. Within a week, C.G. experienced a fever of 104F and was rushed to the emergency room. The next day, he no longer recognized his family. Soon his personality changed and he was having severe behavioral outbursts, which was not typical of him. Unfortunately, doctors gave C.G. a much more serious diagnosis than the flu, he had herpes simplex encephalitis.

Herpes encephalitis is a rare neurological disorder characterized by inflammation of the brain. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus and for most infected people it remains dormant. However, under conditions of extreme stress or sickness, the virus can become active. It usually results in cold sores near the mouth and nose. It rare instances, the virus can travel up to the brain and infect areas involved in behavior and emotional functioning. According to the research on herpes encephalitis, approximately 70% of those who do not receive treatment will die and the average length of survival is 23 days. Acyclovir, an anti-viral agent, can prevent the virus from spreading further and is the recommended treatment for herpes encephalitis. C.G. received this medication as well as behavior modification and neurological rehabilitation while in the acute hospital setting.

While hospitalized, C.G. was kept in an enclosed Veil bed for his own safety and the safety of those trying to care for him. He was confused, disoriented and had no ability to understand what was happening to him. Significant neurological impairments were present including short-term memory loss, slowed information processing, decreased ability to attend to his environment, word finding difficulties, difficulty following directions, deficits in problem solving, hypersensitivity to light and noise, balance problems and confusing day with night. It was not long before the acute hospital realized that they could not help C.G. progress any further due to his severe behavioral problems.

It was at this time that C.G. was admitted to Centre for Neuro Skills® (CNS) in Bakersfield, CA. This post-acute, brain injury rehabilitation facility was able to provide a structured environment in which C.G.'s severe behavior could be addressed and managed effectively. C.G. was initially provided with rehabilitation assistants in the home seven days per week to assist his family in his care. Gradually, this level of supervision was reduced and was eventually eliminated. In the clinic setting, C.G. participated in physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and counseling every day for up to 5 hours per day. These therapies focused on balance, coordination, memory, attention, visual-perception and adjustment to disability. In addition to these therapies, C.G.'s behavior was being monitored and modified with behavioral programming while his reliance on medications to control his behavior was being reduced.

After 5 months of therapy at CNS, C.G. was discharged from therapy. During the course of his post-acute rehabilitation, C.G. made significant gains in all areas of functioning. He was able to reside at home with his parents, without any additional supervision. Perhaps most notable was that his use of angry language, overfamilarity with females, and other socially unacceptable behavior was significantly reduced to the point where C.G. was able to give back to his community by volunteering at a homeless shelter two days per week.