Meet Krestalenn, and Her Journey with Traumatic Brain Injury

When Krestalenn was just an infant, she survived a head-on collision that left her paralyzed on her right side and blind in one eye. Questions were swirling around Krestalenn’s condition and recovery for many years – Would she learn how to walk on her own? Would she be able to speak? Will she be able to play with other kids her age?

Because Krestalenn suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) at such a young age, her family was forced to wait and see how her injuries would affect her development.

Krestalenn’s grandparents became her legal guardians when she was ten months old. Knowing that Krestalenn would need physical therapy to guide her development, her grandparents sought the help of Children’s Rehabilitation Institute TeletonUSA (CRIT).

Today, Krestalenn is walking independently, expanding her vocabulary, and learning how to swim.

Speech and Physical Therapy with CRIT

Krestalenn visits CRIT twice a week for her speech and physical therapy appointments. At this point in her life, CRIT is a part of the routine her grandparents created for her. Krestalenn’s grandfather says that his granddaughter operates on a tight schedule comprising school and CRIT therapies and appointments. 

With regular physical and speech therapy appointments at CRIT, Krestalenn is learning how to walk, use her hands, and verbally communicate with others.

“Krestalenn is really a fighter,” her grandmother says. “She’s a miracle.”

When Krestalenn first came to CRIT, she hadn’t been speaking for over a year. Her physical development was behind others her age.

 “Before CRIT, after the accident, she was quiet for about a year and a half,” her grandfather says. Things look – and sound – different today, however. “She’s talking better. She’s talking in sentences.”

One of Krestalenn’s favorite phrases is “how much?” because every time someone says “I love you” to her, she asks, “how much?” People typically answer her with “this much,” extending their arms as wide as possible. Her vocabulary has expanded considerably, but “how much?” is the phrase that sticks with her.

“[CRIT has] everything in one building,” her grandmother says. “The outcome is unbelievable. She takes off when we put her in the walker. We have to run after her!”

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is “a form of acquired brain injury [that] occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain.” In Krestalenn’s case, her TBI occurred due to a head-on collision.

Symptoms of a TBI vary, depending on the severity. A mild TBI can result in headaches and confusion, while a severe TBI can result in slurred speech, numb extremities, and loss of coordination.

Typically, there isn’t much to be done for a mild TBI as far as treatment goes. Severe TBIs are often treated with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support.

Find Care at the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute TeletonUSA

The Children’s Rehabilitation Institute TeletonUSA (CRIT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering comprehensive rehabilitation services for children with neurological, muscular, and skeletal disabilities. Contact us today to learn how we can help your child live a healthy and happy life after a brain injury.