Hattie Boney

Hattie Boney

Brain Injury
photo of Hattie Boney standing with her therapists

Less than a week after Hattie Boney’s 68th birthday, she was back behind the cashier station at the local market. Hattie, a part-time minister, was known for her cheery demeanor but it was dulled by an unbearable headache that wouldn’t stop. As the day progressed, the unrelenting headache got so bad that Hattie became unresponsive and was rushed to the ER.

She was diagnosed with an aneurysm, a blood vessel in her brain had ruptured. The medical team sprung to action conducting emergency brain surgery that successfully stopped the bleeding.

However, after weeks of little improvement, her neurosurgeon uncovered a hidden hydrocephalus that went untreated for over three months. Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid that can put excess pressure on the brain. Hattie underwent a second surgery to insert a ventriculoperitoneal shunt – a tube used to drain the excess fluid. Her condition began to dramatically improve. In all, she was in the hospital for 52 days.

Hattie was discharged and referred to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Dallas for specialized outpatient neurorehabilitation.

When she began outpatient therapy, Hattie was unable to walk, use the restroom and struggled to compose her thoughts. She was completely dependent on her family, friends and church congregation for support. Hattie remembered, “With God’s grace and mercy along with all the advocates in my life, I was stronger than I thought. When I couldn’t speak, fight, pray, or believe for myself, others did. They stood in proxy for me.”

A team of physical, occupational and speech therapists mobilized to address Hattie’s deficits. Physical therapy focused on her inability to walk, improving her balance and retraining her legs to move with the proper gait.  Occupational therapy helped Hattie work through everyday self-care tasks. Speech therapy targeted her cognitive deficits, increasing her ability to gather thoughts into effective communication.

A breakthrough came when Hattie was able to stand on her own using the parallel bars. Pivotal, this moment, made Hattie realize she could regain her independence. She wanted to be able to walk again, use the restroom independently, take care of her family and return to preaching. This new mindset allowed a determined Hattie to work hard to meet her goals of using the bathroom on her own, being able to preach for her congregation, care for her family and walk on her own. Within 5 months Hattie was able to return home.

She is now independently walking, managing medications and completing all self-care tasks. Hattie is also back behind the pulpit, ministering to her congregation part-time.  
Only one goal remains on Hattie’s list: driving. Her care team is confident that Hattie’s determination and work ethic will put her back behind the wheel in no time.

With the encouragement of my rehab team and God’s grace, I have mastered seven of my eight original goals,” said Hattie. “I haven’t given up on my eighth goal because I will drive again.”



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