Posted on July 25, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 13 of 16 in the series Mike

Brain Injury Rehabilitation: Mike Part Thirteen

Our interview took place in the rehab center, Clearview Treatment Center, in Juneau, WI which specializes in brain injury rehabilitation.

The more we fight for better care, the more places that provide such care, will continue to exist.


Brain Injury Rehabilitation for his wife: "(I am) his sidekick. He does go, as long as you can tell him directions, you know, move over to your left, move over to your right."

“(I am) his sidekick. He does go, as long as you can tell him directions, you know, move over to your left, move over to your right.”

See Clearview has been an integral part of the recovery of other TBI Voices participants, including Chris, see Turning again to my interview with Mike’s wife:

Let’s talk about Clearview Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center.  You’re in ClearviewBrain Injury Rehabilitation Center , Mike’s in Clearview now?


And he’s been here for six months?


What is this treatment here all about?

This treatment here is therapists working with people with traumatic brain injuries.  As far as I can see the six months that he’s been here he’s doing really, really good.  He’s mercifully done more than I would have ever thought that he would be able to do.

He can print a little bit with his right hand.  He can walk with the help of another person hanging onto him.  He can read a calendar now where before he couldn’t read a calendar because he had that left neglect.  He’s learning how to read from one line to the other.  He can see fairly well.  He can read, you know, an article.  He can eat by himself now, feed himself.  He tells you when he’s gotta go to the bathroom which he needs help, you know, to go use the urinal or go to the bathroom.

How is his talking?

He’s speaks pretty good actually.  I don’t hear no garbage, no off the wall stuff, you know.   For the most part it’s all good stuff, normal stuff and he remembers a lot from long term.  He remembers long term really good, different places we’d been and he can tell stories about, things that we’ve done and things that go along with what we have done or what we had seen.

What’s the plan?  Where, where do they see him in six months from now or two months from now?  When do they see him being able to come home?

He had a review this week and they told us that he would be here three to seven more months.  They want him to be the best he can be before he goes home and I said that’s fine, whatever length it takes.  I want him to be the best he can be to come home and he has started dressing himself a little bit.  He still has an impairment on the left side but he does the best as he can do.  He works hard in his therapy every day.

His right side, more from a motor standpoint of the muscle moving side is reasonably normal?

Very good, yes.

The left side, how would you describe it?

I would say the left side leg is probably 50 percent, not up to par and his left arm he can move a little bit.  He’s probably got maybe like 15 percent use.  That would be my estimate.

Is he doing any type of walking in therapy at Clearview Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center?

Yes he does walk with therapy but he needs help, somebody to kind of guide him and, and you know, make him stay on task.

Why does he need to be kept on task?

I’m thinking from the brain injury it, he doesn’t really know all the time of what he’s supposed to be doing so it can be like, you know, left step, right step, left step, right step so he can get his brain back into the normal motion of what it, what it used to be and today he walked in the grass for the first time ’cause he had never been off the pavement and he did fairly well.

Talk to me about walking with him.  You have to be his his walker?

Yeah, his sidekick. He does go, as long as you can tell him directions, you know, move over to your left, move over to your right, don’t reach or grab for anything because then you start leaning and then you’d be tipping over, you know, make, make longer right steps, you know, slow down, stop, get your balance back.

Clearview Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center is one of those places where brain injury rehabilitation care happens the way the brain injury rehabilitation is supposed to happen:  No discharge until the patient is the “best that he can be.” Unfortunately, not all severe brain injury survivors get this chance.  But for Mike and his wife, a year in Clearview Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center is an opportunity that will make all of the difference for his long term recovery.  Like Lethan, Mike is getting the chance for optimal recovery.

All coma survivors need the same chance. But with more and more cuts in Medicaid and insurance companies getting increasingly aggressive in paying less, fewer and fewer places like Clearview can survive.

Without the Clearviews, there are no miracles in coma cases.  Brain injury miracles don’t come magically from on high. They happen because quality institutions hire outstanding and experienced professionals who provide the structure and support for the survivor and his or her caregivers, to reconstruct the injured brain.  Recovery may be enabled by neurosurgery.  But that is just the first step.  Long term brain injury rehabilitation for all coma survivors in the key.

We conceptualize the advocacy over the medical bills from the perspective of getting the best care for the survivor.  But big picture brain injury advocacy is also about maintaining the infrastructure of high-level rehabilitation facilities, so that there are places for brain injury survivors to go. Without great rehabilitation facilities, there will be fewer and fewer great speech pathologists, great occupational therapists.  There is something truly inspirational about the commitment and understanding of the career brain injury professionals who work at places like Clearview.  It is without a doubt, the beacon of a sea of misconception about what brain injury is like.  My goal in writing is in many ways to archive the hands on experience of those brain injury nightingales.

When I first started doing brain injury advocacy twenty years ago, there was a lot more rehabilitation being provided. Thus, there were a lot more brain injury rehabilitation facilities.  The severe cutbacks in brain injury rehabilitation have had the added cost that there are now far fewer facilities to get brain injury care.

Not all patients need as much care as Mike.  Unfortunately, not all patients even at Clearview will get authorization for all the care they need.  But the more we fight for more and better care, the more places that provide such care, will continue to exist.

Next in Part Fourteen – Day in the Life of Brain Injury Rehabilitation

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447