Success Stories

Neurobehavioral Program Helps 19-Year-old Tommy Little See a Brighter Future

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), 12 percent of all traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States are attributed to firearms.

At the age of 18, Tommy Little became part of this statistic when he was accidentally shot.  The challenges associated with a TBI can be devastating, among them severe behavioral issues including outbursts of anger.  Post-acute neurobehavioral programs–such as those offered by NeuroRestorative–provide individuals with TBI, like Tommy, with practical and effective self-management strategies, allowing them to better manage their behaviors and reaction to everyday situations.

Tommy Little hospital
In October of 2010, 18-year-old Tommy Little woke up in a room he didn’t recognize, surrounded by machines and people he didn’t know.  His mother told him that he was in a hospital and that there had been an accident.  The last thing Tommy remembered was drifting off to sleep on the couch.  Tommy had been in a coma for 34 days.  He had been home with a friend and they had discovered a gun in the house. One thing led to another and the gun accidentally went off, the bullet hitting Tommy in his right temple, leaving him with a TBI and severe optic nerve damage, resulting in complete blindness in one eye and partial blindness in the other.

“I was confused,” recalled Tommy of those early days.  “I didn’t understand where I was or why I was there.”

After being discharged from the hospital, Tommy was immediately admitted to NeuroRestorative’s Tampa location to begin his post-acute rehabilitation in the neurobehavioral program.  As a result of the TBI Tommy suffered in the accident, he had begun to exhibit some problematic behaviors during his acute hospitalization, including loud, disruptive outbursts.  His medical team recognized that left untreated, those behaviors would make it difficult for Tommy to develop the new skills necessary to adjust to life post-injury and harm his ability to build relationships with others.  NeuroRestorative’s neurobehavioral program specializes in helping participants like Tommy through individualized treatment plans that may include behavior modification, socialization skills training, family therapy, physical management programs and more.

“Tommy was reluctant to approach rehabilitation at first, but we continued to encourage him to participate in both individual skilled therapy and group therapy,” said Kristy Bruna, Program Case Manager for NeuroRestorative Florida.

“He struggled to see that there was life past his injury and what that might look like for him.”

With time, and the support of Tommy’s family and his treatment team at NeuroRestorative, Tommy began to see the potential he had.

Tommy Little car
“Tommy was very agitated at first,” said Cindy Little, Tommy’s mother.  “NeuroRestorative did a wonderful job of taking as much time as he needed to work with him.  He was tough and they were really there for him.”

In addition to receiving therapy to help with his behavioral challenges, Tommy participated in a range of other programs and services, including physical, recreational, cognitive, occupational and speech-language therapies.  Tommy’s therapies were adapted to his individual interests and needs.  In recreational therapy, for example, Tommy’s love of playing cards was incorporated with the use of puff paint to adapt the cards so he could play by focusing on the feel of each card and the enlarged markings.

“Rehabilitation was great,” said Tommy looking back on the time he spent with NeuroRestorative.  “I have so much appreciation for life now and I know that whatever comes at me, I can handle it.”

Tommy is now living back at home with his mother and attends Lighthouse for the Blind, a school specifically designed for students with visual impairments.  He is enjoying school and hopes to one day open his own business, a pool hall.

Learn more about NeuroRestorative’s neurobehavioral programs across the country.

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