Holistic approach to helping patients recover from brain injuries

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Living with a traumatic brain injury can be challenging but 3TV found out there is a Valley program that is giving patients a chance to rebuild their lives.

“I was on my way to go play some pool for a roommate that passed away on my motorcycle and a guy cut me off and I jumped off the back of my motorcycle and the bike went flying through the air,” Kuna Williams said.

 The life Williams knew changed the night of his motorcycle accident back in July of 2006. He suffered a traumatic brain injury that would force him to learn how to walk and talk again plus other basic survival skills.
   
“I had to learn how to live on my own, clean the house,” Williams said. “They helped me with a checklist and chore sheets.

“I had to learn how to pay bills again,” he continued. “I was frustrated because I wanted things to happen a lot faster, but one thing I learned at CTN is ‘TTT’, things take time.”

Williams is talking about the help he received at CTN, Center for Transitional Neurorehabilitation at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. The intensive outpatient program takes a holistic approach to treating patients as well as helping their families.

“They work with neuropsychologists here,” Dr. Pamela Klonoff said. “They’re involved on working on some of the thinking and cognitive areas. They work with occupational therapists and their involved in working on vision retraining.”

Klonoff is the director of CTN. She said there are two goals the program hopes to provide to patients.

“One is to help the people be independent in the home and community and the other is to return to productive work and school,” Klonoff said.

One way CTN helps patients return to the workplace is by forming partnerships with employers like Safeway.
 
“The therapist from here participates in that process,” Klonoff said. “We will visit the worksite and we'll assist people in setting up tools and compensation, give education and support to the employer and co-workers.”

Williams, who is now 30 years old, has been working as a courtesy clerk at the grocery chain for a year. A job he enjoys going to everyday.

“They come in and they look for me and they call me by my first name,” Williams said. “It makes me feel like I'm friends with them or their family.”

“Their lives have been turned upside down,” Safeway spokesperson LaArnie Lucas said. “So anytime we can help them and provide a safe environment for them to work in and be apart of the community, and I think Kuna really enjoys that, because he's interacting face to face with the customers and helping them to their car.”

While Williams’s recovery process is still ongoing the help he receives from CTN and Safeway shows that he's pushing past those roadblocks that his injury caused one day at a time.

“I’m alive,” Williams said. “I'm self sufficient, living with a disability and that should give others hope too, that have disabilities that you can do it on your own.”

Williams is writing a book about his recovery process. For more information on CTN, please log onto