Kenya's Story

Kenya Moore with therapist

Traumatic brain injury

Kenya Moore walking

A recent PhD graduate in biomedical science from the University of Texas Medical Branch, 26-year-old Kenya Moore had her whole life ahead of her. One month after she defended her thesis, she was struck by a car. This sudden and severe accident left her with a traumatic brain injury, multiple broken bones and an entirely different journey ahead.

Immediately after her accident, she received treatment at Baylor University Medical Center – Dallas and Select Specialty Hospital (SSH) – Dallas Downtown. She underwent a series of medical procedures, but the head injury she received had made her unable to express her emotions or needs and caused spontaneous limb movements. Only able to communicate through thumbs up and down movements to yes and no questions, Kenya was restless and agitated.

To ease her frustration, Kenya’s care team first found a way to help her by asking her to count her fingers. In addition, her physical therapist found, by chance, that Kenya knew the American Sign Language alphabet. This breakthrough led to an increase in communication that helped Kenya express herself more fully.

However, when the time came for her to begin her therapy, she still needed maximum assistance due to a lack of muscle control. In all, her complicated diagnosis led to a month-long stay at SSH – Dallas Downtown. Once she was medically stable, her physicians recommended an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program to help her regain mobility and independence.

Kenya chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Dallas and its Day Neuro Program for the next phase in her recovery. Upon arrival at BSWIR – Dallas, Kenya had significant challenges, including dysphonia (a voice disorder) that made it difficult to speak. She also had visual and perceptual deficits hindering her mobility and self-care skills. Lastly, Kenya suffered from apraxia, a neurological disorder that affects the brain pathways, which impeded her speech.

Despite these obstacles, Kenya's spirits remained high. Her physician-led rehabilitation team put a treatment plan in place. She began her intensive rehabilitation program, including occupational, physical, speech therapy and neuropsychological support, along with recreational therapy and specialized aquatics programs.

Physical therapy activities aimed to strengthen her body and increase her endurance and activity tolerance. Occupational therapy focused on refining her fine motor skills and completing household tasks such as cleaning, laundry and cooking. Speech therapy exercises helped Kenya overcome her dysphonia and apraxia.

Before the accident, Kenya was an avid dancer and former dance team captain at Dillard University, therefore learning how to walk again was one of her main goals along with driving and going back to work.

As her strength progressed, Kenya was able to walk with assistance from two people, one on each side with her arm wrapped around each person. She utilized the aquatic center, where she worked on her standing balance, coordination and upper extremity coordination. “I really like the pool and the NuStep,” she mentioned. “I also like community re-integration activities (getting out in the community as part of therapy). I’ve really liked all of my therapists. Both here (Day Neuro) and upstairs (inpatient).” She mentioned that she can’t think of any activities she did that she didn’t like.

Before she was discharged, Kenya was walking independently with a walker and communicating effectively, using an iPad for more complex thoughts.

Kenya's rehabilitation journey was not just physical – it was also an emotional and mental transformation. She described one of her biggest challenges was her mental health and anger. She wasn't an angry person before, but it became more of an issue after her accident. With support from her therapists and her mother, who has been her "rock," Kenya learned to channel her energy towards gratitude and healing.

Reflecting on her experience at BSWIR - Dallas, she remarked, "It's been really good. I'm grateful I came here. I'm grateful I survived." Kenya looks forward to the future with optimism and courage.

Her advice to others facing similar challenges is simple yet powerful: "Don't give up. It's going to get better."