Searching for the right TBI rehab facility

Where is the best place for Sam? In my last post, I mentioned that we are looking for a new rehab facility for Sam. I spoke of the Rehabilitation Research Center at Santa Clara Valley Med Center in San Jose but as Erin speaks to more people at the VA hospital, she isn’t sure that is the best place for him right now.

This past week, my wife and I visited CareMeridian in Elk Grove, Ca. which would be very convenient for our families since it is only about a 30 minute drive from our homes in Citrus Heights. It was a nice facility, and may possibly be in the plans (maybe at a later date) but we aren’t sure if they would be aggressive enough with Sam’s therapy.

Sam and Erin in rehab gym_Palo Alto VA_12_27_07

Another promising rehab facility we will be looking into is Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital in Kentfield, Ca (Marin County). This facility is about 20 minutes north of San Francisco. The administrator of CareMeridian had a lot of good things to say about this facility and the doctors at this location.

We are in a very difficult and scary time. Where is the best place for Sam to improve as quickly as possible with his current limitations? It is possible Sam may go to one of the rehab facilities I mentioned previously for a short time period and then be placed in another facility as he improves and is able to go into a more advanced program.

We’re finding that there are a lot of brain injury/rehab facilities for really aggressive treatment of brain injured patients, but patients who are much farther along in their rehab than Sam. There are other facilities that are more “maintenance” type facilities for patients who have hit their peak…we want to stay away from them! But—there aren’t many rehab facilities for people like Sam who are somewhere in the middle with their rehabilitation.

The bottom line is that we need your prayers in this time of discernment. This is uncharted territory and so far, there isn’t a lot of guidance available. Hopefully as Erin talks to the doctors and social workers at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, she will gain a much clearer picture as to the best place for Sam under his current circumstances.

Sam’s medical status: Sam has been making steady auditory improvements. The therapist have been working with having him breath through his mouth and in the process, he has been getting better at moving his tongue. Although, he is not talking, he continues to get more vocal.

Erin has been working hard to improve Sam’s brain functions. She keeps coming up with little brain teaser games to play with Sam like giving him multiple choice questions about various subjects. Sam is answering her with the American Sign Language (ASL) for each of the choices, A, B, C or D. For example, they were playing a trivia game and Erin asked Sam which one of the four items was not part of the twelve days of Christmas. I believe she said the answer that didn’t match was, “whistler’s whistling”…and Sam got it correct. She asked him to spell his name in ASL and he was able to do that too. Erin is working towards getting away from the one finger for yes, two fingers for no communication and step it up a level to the multiple choice scenario, again with the help of ASL.

Sam continues to do the stationary bike and “standing frame” which is a device that slowly moves him from a sitting to standing position. He is up and out of his bed in the wheelchair twice a day.

Overall, Sam is becoming more responsive. When someone walks into the room, he will look over to the door to see who is coming in.

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13 Responses to Searching for the right TBI rehab facility

  1. Carol Thomas says:

    So glad Sam is moving in a positive direction which is an answer to many prayers.
    Now our prayers will include divine direction for the best rehab center for Sam.
    Erin may God continue to give you strength and ideas to help Sam continue to move forward. There is not a day that goes by that we as a family do not pray for you.

  2. Barbara Sosman says:

    Each time I read of Sam’s continued improvement I thank God he has such amazing and loving support with him, particularly Erin and his and her parents. My prayer now is for the best rehab center to become clear. May God bless you all.

  3. Uncle David & Aunt Cari says:

    Erin and Sam– We will pray for the best Rehab Center to become clear. We hope the New Year is off to a great start and is filled with continued progress. You both are in our thoughts and prayers constantly. All our Love, Uncle David & Aunt Cari

  4. Ali Neria says:

    Sam looks so good! It has been over a month since I was able to see him in person and he looks so much more awake and aware. I can’t wait to see your smile when I walk in the room Sammy!

  5. kabbruzzi says:

    Hi Erin, Sam & Family –

    One thing you can ALWAYS count on are loads and loads of prayers and support from out here! You will find the best place for Sam, yes you will. It will become clear (well maybe not as clear as you’d like until after the decision is made, but have faith!!) You’re doing the right thing in investigating every single angle that there is, and you’re becoming even more educated during this process. You will be guided in the right direction – He will make sure of that. He has special plans for you, Sam and Erin, and He will help you through this and help clear the path so you can begin to realize what that plan is. Thoughts and prayers are ALWAYS with you all and they always will be.

    Sounds like you’re just cruising right along Sam & Erin, keep up the great work! It has to be so hard but you CAN do it, you WILL do it, and you ARE doing it every single day. We’re all with you in spirit all the time and those prayers will always be coming your way. Every day. God bless you Sam, Erin and Family. Huge hugs to you all.

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  6. Hi everyone…I do want you to know that we are still trusting in God to completely bring Sam back to normal. I was an interpreter to the deaf for almost 4 years, and if I can help Erin with any of the signs, tell her to contact me at my email larrywiseman2@yahoo.com
    God loves you all…remember that! The Lord is my Shepherd…I Shall not want.

  7. Lori & Tony Peoria says:

    Always praying for you two!

  8. Liz Finberg-Timmerman says:

    Happy new year, i have been gone a couple months and am now back online and so happy to see how well Sam is doing. You have all been in my prayers. The last couple months have been very hard for me as I started to go down a path of self destruction. I was taking on other peoples problems and hiding from my own. I became very depressed and felt very alone. As Im getting older Im learning more to accept that friends come and go. The good ones, my true friends will always be there. Yesterday I looked at a picture my mother keeps on her fireplace, a picture of me, Sam and Erin on their wedding day. I looked at that picture and cried because at that exact moment I was reminded that Sam and Erin are the good ones. Friends I will have for a lifetime. I was always thankful to be considered a part of the Nichols’ family.

  9. Congratulations on moving forward with this next phase. I, myself, am looking for rehab help, and the array of choices is staggering. Isn’t there a list/website out there that has all the rehabs listed with their focus, their philosophy, and “customer feedback” available? I’m finding folks at the Brian Injury Association are very helpful, especially support groups, which sometimes have lists of providers and feedback from personal experience included. You may want to check them out — your local chapter (and/or its website) may have a list of support groups you can turn to for help. It can be a very disconcerting journey, but you can do it! With the help of God and your friends & family, anything is possible! I personally have found I need to steer clear of neurologists who are from the “whatever you have after six months is all you have to deal with for the rest of your life” school. I’m reading “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge, and clearly it’s not always the case! Great book – check it out – it’s very hopeful! Inspirational reading! I need to have my list of questions all put together to ask up front, so I get the same information from each provider. Otherwise, I get turned around — between the stress of daily life and the constant new discoveries and changes… well, who can keep it all straight in their head, TBI or no? ;)

    I wish you all the best in your search and your journey.

    God Bless!

  10. Dara says:

    Hi there,

    I’m a Christian attending a church in Natomas and have been watching Sam’s progress (and praying for you all) since I saw the article in the Sac Bee this past August. This has been an extremely moving experience just watching the Lord’s hand in all of this. Nothing grows my faith stronger than watching Him at work. God bless you and I will continue with my prayers.

    Love in Christ,
    Dara

  11. Carol Calloway says:

    As always, Tony, Sam and Erin are in our prayers every single day. I remeber what it was like for my family when my brother was wounded in WW II. So I know how difficult it is for all of you. I offer my daily Mass and Holy Communion for Sam and the whole family every day. I will also pray for guidance as to the best hosital and/or facility for Sam next. I trust that God will show the way.

  12. Cpl James Hechtkopf says:

    Dr Voogt in Virginia Beach has a facility that I am currently in. The staff is caring and professional and I couldn’t think of a better place to be. http://hamptonroads.com/2008/02/braininjured-instant
    I am going to spend the rest of my life looking after Brain Injured Vets. I know the troubles of dealing with the VA and if you would like help I may be able to help you. I currently live in the Neurological Rehabilitation Living center here in Virginia Beach. 1055 Laskin Road, Suite 100, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451 Tel: 757-417-6518 Fax: 757-417-6527. I plan to help Dr. Voogt design a program for Vets with TBI and would love to speak with you. Ask for me when you call. James

  13. Michael Gray says:

    My name is Michael Gray and Im a TBI survivor who has beaten the odds of TBI and now in school interning with HBOT Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
    If you havent heard about HBOT you should look into it-it helped get me back to myself bye flooding my cells with 100% pure oxygen our bodys building block to help sustain life as well as helping it to heal faster.

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