Bailey's Story

Bailey Heinrich outside

Traumatic brain injury

Bailey Heinrich, a resilient 21-year-old nursing student hailing from Allen, Texas, faced an unexpected detour in her life when a debilitating illness struck.

A high fever of 104 degrees, among several other symptoms, landed her in the emergency room four times in the span of two weeks.

“I went unconscious due to my brain swelling,” Bailey said. “Doctors could not figure it out and I almost died, but my sedimentation rate was high and after a billion tests, they found out I had lupus which attacked my brain, so they gave me prednisone for the brain swelling.” It took three weeks for her to gain consciousness, and being in that state for so long caused her to lose control of every muscle. This left her unable to talk, swallow, walk, control her bladder or control her arms or legs.

Her complicated diagnosis led to a four-week stay in the hospital and a six-week stay in various inpatient settings. Once stable, her mother helped Bailey choose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Frisco’s Day Neuro Program to help her on her rehabilitation journey.

Bailey arrived at BSWIR-Frisco unable to walk, with no movement of her right arm and with speaking and swallowing difficulties. Her care team put together a comprehensive plan.

Bailey's rehabilitation program encompassed physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy, each administered by a compassionate and skilled therapist. Together, they tackled her deficits head-on, targeting challenges such as balance, coordination, strength, short-term memory and attention.

Bailey's occupational therapist introduced innovative techniques, such as integrated cooking and baking sessions, enabling her to regain fine motor control. Engaging in activities like pickleball, she honed her coordination skills by using her right hand to hold the paddle. Also, her occupational therapist worked on her reaction speed and adaptive driving which allowed her to regain her license through multiple tests.

Under the guidance of her physical therapist, Bailey embarked on the challenge to rebuild her strength, focusing on her right leg, core stability and standing endurance. Walking without assistance, conquering uneven terrains and enjoying community outings became significant milestones on her path to recovery.

Bailey's speech therapist worked diligently to enhance her cognitive abilities, memory, attention and word-finding skills. Simulated return-to-school tasks provided her with the confidence to study from textbooks and educational videos once again.

The rehabilitation experience extended beyond the clinical setting, incorporating recreational activities tailored to Bailey's interests. These activities included outings to local attractions and malls, providing a holistic approach to her recovery and boosting her overall well-being.

Bailey's support system, comprising her devoted family and friends, played an instrumental role in her recovery journey. “They were my biggest motivators and supporters,” she recalled. Reflecting on her transformative experience, Bailey described her experience as, “Super fun, well as fun as one could make it given the circumstances! Everyone was so helpful, compassionate, encouraging and never judgmental.”

Continuing in outpatient, Bailey looks forward to resuming her studies, improving her handwriting and joining back into activities she has always enjoyed.

When asked if she learned anything new about herself during rehabilitation, she remarked, “I learned literally so much! I was able to conquer so much that I never thought I would - thank you, Baylor!”

For those going through a similar situation, Bailey leaves this advice, “Be as positive as you can be. Take it from someone who had literally every aspect of her life go up into flames, if it wasn’t for my positive attitude, I may not have been able to make these great strides within this short time frame.”