Syn.ap.tic Health

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Brandice Thompson

Imagine waking up from a deep sleep to find out that you had missed your 21st birthday, you were unable to breath on your own, and you couldn't spell your name, and were paralyzed from the shoulders down. That was 10 years ago.

In 2005 I was driving to Calgary for a dance rehearsal on a gorgeous Sunday morning. I never made it to Calgary and had no idea that I may never dance again. A no fault motor vehicle accident left my car over turned on the side of the highway, I was inside hanging from my seatbelt, and unconscious. With uncontrollable seizures, and pending traumatic brain injury and a high level spinal cord injury stars air ambulance dropped me off at foothills hospital. I had little brain activity and unable to sustain life on my own. The prognosis of survival was no more than 1% should I ever make it out of a barbiturate comma. Not to mention what my quality of life would be. With c3-4 c6-7 spinal cord injury diagnosis my family was told that I may not walk again and would be completely dependent on full time care and may not even breathe on my own. On top of all that I had a traumatic brain injury and was given epilepsy as a result. With the constant seizures they were even unsure what the capacity of my brain would be should I survive. Because I was a dancer and in great physical shape I was an excellent candidate for organ donation. I can't even imagine the pain my mother was feeling knowing that she would be losing her youngest child. Luckily she held out hope and seven weeks later I woke up from the comma. When I woke up I remember my mother saying "you have been in a bad accident and are very hurt". Good news is I was alive, bad news is it was only the beginning of a very long and intense journey. I didn't realize the extent of my injury until someone put a strap on my hand so I could feed myself as I was unable to hold a spoon. Even cognitive tests where I was asked to remember 10 objects seemed impossible. With a grim prognosis but a large amount of persistence I battled my way to a remarkable recovery.

A year in the hospital was spent working on everything the medical professionals wanted me to. I learned how to turn in bed, dress myself, transfer, basically everything I needed to know so that I could go home. It was even suggested that I only leave the hospital in a power chair to which I replied "I have two strong arms and I intend to use them!” I left the hospital in a manual chair. Leaving the hospital is scary but the best thing that can happen because that is when you get to make your own decisions. I knew I hadn't reached my plateau for recovery and was ready to take life into my own hands and push my body to its maximum potential both physically and mentally.

After 5 years of traveling to two different centers both in Canada and the United States for rehabilitation programs, due to no private spinal cord injury centers in Alberta, I found Syn.ap.tic. It was a dream come true. I had waited many years for such a centre to come to Calgary. Syn.ap.tic is equipped with everything that a person needs to achieve their goals. The equipment, the knowledge and training, the warm surroundings, and all the encouragement anyone could ask for. Ten years post injury I am taking steps with a walker and have incredible core strength and balance. The staff at synaptic work with the goals that you wish to achieve and build a personalized program based on your strengths and weaknesses. Rehabilitation doesn’t’t only include walking but it gives everyone a chance to increase their independence and quality of life. Synaptic offers all clients the chance to work up to their maximum potential and far surpass it.

Ten years post injury I am a university graduate, live life independently, drive independently and have a career. I think that is pretty fantastic for someone who had less than 1% chance of survival.

When I was in the hospital I was asked what my goal was. I said I wanted to be on stage again dancing. It was suggested that I make a more realistic goal. Last year when I began walking again I found my old dance shoes, put them on and strutted across the floor at Syn.ap.tic with the high walker. Maybe not an ideal stage prop but certainly on my way to where I intended to be.