When Malori Maddox first set foot inside the Transitional Learning Center facility, she couldn’t remember things from one moment to the next.
“I made Dory (from the movie ‘Finding Nemo’) look good,” she said.
Three months after starting her therapy, few could tell she’s had to relearn to read, process information and coordinate her thoughts.
Cindy Wolfe, program director of the Transitional Learning Center program in Lubbock, said Maddox has been one of the more severe cases they’ve treated at the facility and one of the most inspirational. A brain bleed caused Maddox, a volleyball player for Lubbock Christian University at the time, to collapse during a match in Wichita Falls in November, setting off a chain of events that led her to the TLC in January to aid in her rehabilitation from the injury.
The purpose of TLC is to rehabilitate patients, like Maddox, who have suffered from a severe brain injury.
“This means after somebody is out of the hospital and they’re stabilized or they’re in the hospital and they’ve stabilized and they no longer need acute care nursing, then they’re ready to come to us,” Wolfe said. “We’re exclusive to head injuries.”
Dr. Brent Masel, president and medical director of the Transitional Learning Center,which has headquarters in Galveston, said the focus is rehabilitation.
“We maximize what they have so they can succeed at home,” he said.
The ultimate goal is to get patients home or rehabilitate them enough that they can live independently.
“The idea is we don’t want them in a nursing home,” Masel said.
It’s not the right environment, he said. So the Lubbock TLC location now owns a long-term living facility.
The house, called WestWay, is located in a residential neighborhood off-site from TLC, which is on the Covenant Health campus but not affiliated with the hospital. It’s under an assisted-living license and has six beds, but is not a skilled nursing facility.
“WestWay is not therapy,” Wolfe said. “It’s an activity space.”
A new way to learn
TLC also plans to transition to another facility within the next two years and will be located in North Lubbock by Trustpoint Hospital.
The expansions will help more people who suffer head injuries rehabilitate closer to home and family.
“Research shows that rehab and just life quality is better when you’re around family,” Wolfe said. “Family very much improves a person’s life. So, sending them off doesn’t necessarily help them. Westway is TLC’s answer to that community need.”
Therapy provided at TLC is individualized for each patient and there have been patients who enjoy music, so part of their rehab included music therapy. One patient liked steer roping so therapists completed part of that patient’s therapy outside with a horse, Wolfe said.
“I think that’s the beautiful thing about this place,” she said. “As therapists, we have the freedom to design and tailor a program around every individual need.”
One of the biggest needs for Maddox has been exercising her memory retention and helping her relearn to read and process information so she can get back to her studies.
“They’ve taught me a lot of strategies to take notes,” Maddox said. “My learning styles have changed a little bit. I’m a more visual learner than kinesthetic, I guess. They’ve helped me find my weaknesses and just start working on those and getting those back to where they need to be and helping me with the strategies I need to work on those weaknesses. A lot of things have changed; I guess learning styles is a big one.”
Maddox said she had hoped to work with TLC in a different capacity before her injury.
“I wanted to be a physical therapist and TLC was on my radar to come volunteer,” Maddox said.
When she arrived, she wasn’t in any condition to volunteer, though.
“She had half long hair, half short hair,” Wolfe said. “Her vision was poor, balance was poor.”
Maddox also had problems remembering things from one minute to the next.
A changed life
The first few weeks of therapy were the hardest. Therapists, including Wolfe, worked with Maddox and arranged her daily eight-hour therapy schedule to alternate between cognitive and physical therapy each hour because she was easily exhausted.
“The mental stuff, it drains me out,” Maddox said. “I felt like running a marathon would be less tiring than just having to work through the brain for cognitive stuff.”
The road to recovery has been long and while Maddox isn’t quite finished, things have gotten easier.
“She will have to learn to manage it from here on out and her life will be changed,” Wolfe said. “This is something she’ll have to work on for the rest of her life. It’s not a one-time event.”
Even though Maddox may never get back to exactly the person she was and have the same cognitive abilities, Wolfe said Maddox’s future looks bright.
“Yeah, God’s got it all under control,” Maddox said, “but there are some God vessels here at TLC really doing their jobs the best they can.”
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