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Interior Designer Has a Blueprint for Success

Interior Designer Has a Blueprint for Success

Interior Designer Has a Blueprint for Success

On baking day, Brittany Smith’s kitchen is scented with nutmeg and pumpkin and a hint of cinnamon that sends her fiancé into boyfriend nirvana - with fork in hand. She loves to bake pies, admitting that sliding them into the oven is the height of chef pride. After about an hour, her masterpiece debuts on a blue plate with a mountain of whipped cream. They both dig in.

These moments are a triumph for Brittany, a former Centre for Neuro Skills (CNS) patient at the Los Angeles clinic. Formerly a commercial interior designer, Brittany came to CNS in 2019, having suffered a brain injury caused by a car crash while she was working in Palm Springs. Her injuries included two brain bleeds, a constricted right hand, slurred speech and cognition deficits. The impact also caused double vision, which her therapy team addressed by consulting a neuro optometrist who prescribed special lenses.

“Lots of people at CNS meant so much to me,” she said of her rehabilitation journey. CNS is known for its individualized treatment planning and in Brittany’s case, her team’s creative thinking produced a speech practice that tapped her inner talents. “I used to be a singer in a jazz ensemble,” she said, so her therapist asked her to hold a note as she voiced a consistent “ahhhh” for a few seconds. CNS believes that no two brain injuries are alike, and each person’s treatment should be uniquely tailored. Asking Brittany to sing as a speech exercise is an example of thinking outside the box.

At CNS, work re-entry is also encouraged if a patient is capable. Since discharging from treatment, Brittany’s self-care skills have improved. She can cook, use a computer, and does online yoga classes. “My therapists want me to do normal stuff, so they told me to do my own laundry,” she mused. These skills build independence and are transferrable to work environments.

She loves cooking and yoga, but her true ambition is working with clients to create beautiful spaces. Brittany holds a bachelor’s degree in interior design and wants to return to her career. CNS is helping her realize that dream. She just completed her first semester at the Santa Monica Community College Acquired Brain Injury Program in Los Angeles. The program helps students prepare for college, offering classes on writing, study skills, and note-taking. CNS partners with the school and referred her to the program.

“Going back school is enriching,” she said. “I want to go on to a master’s degree in Interior Design.” With a foundation in life skills provided by CNS, she’s on her way.