Kailey’s Journey: Part 2
New Beginnings at CNS Dallas and Fort Worth
(Editor’s Note: In a three-part series we share the touching story of former CNS patient Kailey Tesdahl. We began with Part 1, which chronicled her injury and path to CNS. In Part 2, we document her journey to recovery).
In August 2017, Kailey Tesdahl was admitted to the inpatient CNS Dallas program. The 18-year-old had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from her involvement in a car accident on her way to high school graduation that June.
After spending 30 days at Texas Rehabilitation Hospital, Kailey made her way to CNS - due in large part to the many healthcare professionals in the community who worked together to establish a continuum of care following her injury.
The damage from the car accident left Kailey unable to speak, and in a wheelchair unable to walk. Her injuries also included collarbone fractures, eight fractured ribs, liver and kidney lacerations, and a diffuse axonal injury - a common and devastating type of TBI.
In the early phases of her treatment, CNS therapists worked with Kailey on rebuilding her skills and addressing her major her deficits – which included swallowing, speaking and walking.
“I remember the first time she walked she could only make it 10 feet,” said Brittnie Wells, Kailey’s Case Manager. She was also unable to manage a rolling walker due to decreased cognitive ability (forgetting the sequence of steps).
“All the staff was caring, helpful and informative,” said Kailey’s mom, Stephanie Tesdahl. “In a moment like this you don't know what to do, and our family felt as though we were a part of CNS.”
After weeks of intensive therapy, Kailey had a breakthrough. “I was with Kailey in physical therapy one afternoon,” Stephanie remembers, “There was a lot of excitement and energy in the room because some of the patients were going on a fishing outing.”
Stephanie could see Kailey taking it all in - she was looking around and listening, and she could tell that her brain was trying to work.
Then something amazing happened, Kailey looked at her mom and whispered, “Mom, am I going fishing?” To which her mother responded, “No sweetie, not today.”
“Good, because I don’t want to go fishing,” Kailey replied.
Stephanie laughed, “She said ‘I don’t want to go fishing ever!’”
After that moment, Stephanie knew Kailey was aware of what was going on around her, “It seemed like all of a sudden she came out the fog,” said Stephanie.
After five months of inpatient rehabilitation at CNS Dallas, Kailey transferred to CNS Fort Worth’s day program.
She was still speaking in whispers, but continually taking more initiative, achieving more independence - and before long she was walking and standing without assistance.
The community support and interest in Kailey’s story were overwhelming, and the family was approached by the media for interviews about Kailey’s journey.
Stay tuned for part three of Kailey’s story, which shares her life post-rehabilitation - going from being non-verbal and unable to walk to hosting a radio segment, and collecting her diploma during a graduation ceremony in May.