An automobile accident may have changed the course of Jaclyn Pellicotte’s life, but not her drive to succeed. Jaclyn was in her third year at the University of Texas - El Paso when another vehicle struck the car in which she was a passenger. She suffered a severe traumatic brain injury as a result of the accident.
“She spent two months in the intensive care unit in El Paso. We were told that Jaclyn would be vegetative, that she would not be able to walk or talk and that she would need to live in a long-term care center. We hoped for more for our daughter. We asked our community for a recommendation for a neuro-rehabilitation center, and heard about TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas,” said Dennis and Sheri Pellicotte, Jaclyn’s parents.
“When Jaclyn was admitted to the TIRR Memorial Hermann Disorders of Consciousness (DoC) Program, she was not responding to us or to any commands, and so we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Sheri. “But the first thing our therapist said when we got to TIRR was, ‘we’re going to get her up.’ At that point Jaclyn had been in bed for two months so we weren’t sure how it was going to work.” But it did. Dr. Katherine O’Brien, PhD, the primary clinical neuropsychologist and clinical director for the DoC Program , said: “The family came here not knowing whether Jaclyn was conscious or not, but within a few days of arriving here we were able to identify that she was conscious… and she just took off from there.”
Very quickly, the therapists got Jaclyn up and walking using state-of-the-art technology that incorporates the use of a harness to reduce the amount of weight being supported through the legs. This technology allows patients with severe weakness greater opportunities to begin moving their legs during early walking training. In addition to walking, Jaclyn’s physical therapist, Pooja Patel, PT, DPT, NCS, worked with Jaclyn by engaging her in a variety of neuromuscular activities, with the use of a stationary bicycle outfitted with a multi-channel functional electrical stimulation.
One of the tools that the DoC team used with Jaclyn was the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised. This tool is used to assess the capacity of what a patient can or cannot do, and to test several types of communication. This scientifically validated assessment helps identify levels of consciousness which otherwise may be missed in a bedside evaluation. Since being discharged and returning home to her community in El Paso, Jaclyn has made tremendous progress in her recovery. She is now walking, and talking in full sentences. She is also staying in constant communication with her family and friends by text from her phone.
“TIRR took Jaclyn from being semi-conscious to being aware of what is going on around her,” said Dennis and Sheri. “She gets frustrated sometimes, but she is working really hard and I’m astounded at how quickly she is recovering.”
For the 31st consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 3 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.Learn More
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