Unwavering strength sees Cassi return home
It was a wonderful day when Cassi, pictured with her family was able to go home as part of her determined and inspiring journey.
For many months, it was touch and go, and some said she may not make it. But Chinchilla resident Cassi West has shown unbelievable strength and determination to finally return home.
The teenager, who was in a life-threatening car accident in mid-2022, was in hospital for many months before being transferred to the Brighton Brain Injury Service (BBIS) for highly-specialised rehabilitation care.
BBIS Senior Physiotherapist Kirsten Sue See said this remarkable achievement was the result of Cassi’s sheer determination, her family’s unwavering strength and support from her multidisciplinary teams at the BBIS and Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital.
“Initially, Cassi’s brain injury was so severe that the acute team were unsure whether she would survive her injuries and her treating team at PA Hospital diagnosed her as being in a prolonged disorder of consciousness (PDOC),” Kirsten said.
“Her care team at the PA identified her need for intensive rehabilitation care at BBIS which recently implemented a specialist PDOC pathway for people like Cassi to provide the opportunity for improvement and achievement of a meaningful quality of life.
“Cassi was one of the first recipients of the pathway.”
In September 2022, Cassi was admitted to the BBIS at the Brighton Health Campus following her stay at the PA Hospital.
Kirsten said her care journey was well planned, guided by Cassi’s improvement in consciousness and supported by the regular and daily intensive physiotherapy, occupation, speech and music therapies at BBIS.
Cassi’s mother Helen West was by her side throughout the difficult journey, moving from Chinchilla to support her daughter through every incremental step of the year-long recovery.
“I stayed in a motel while she was at the PA Hospital, then rented a house at Brighton to be by her side when she came to BBIS,” Helen said.
“There was a lot of pressure placed on my family with Cassi’s Dad traveling back and forth between work and Brisbane to help out and be with Cassi as much as possible.
“My son was also at home taking responsibility for the animals, house and many other things.
“Being away from home has been very hard, but the entire team at BBIS are amazing.
“It made a huge difference to me knowing that I could go home and Cassi was good hands. They really looked after her.”
Cassi was an inpatient in BBIS for approximately 12 months.
“I think what made a difference was how the BBIS team worked with her every single day, one step at a time. They got Cassi up in her walker and sitting straight,” Helen said.
“When Cassi was not in therapy, I would help her and do a lot of the exercises with her – many said that she may not make it, but Cassi proved everyone wrong.
“Cassi was willing to try anything, she was determined to do it.
“She is now laughing, smiling and the physiotherapists have helped her walk assisted with a walking device. Cassi has been able to regain full head control and has had her tracheostomy removed too.”
Helen said the next important personal goal for Cassi was to be able to stand upright unassisted and walk without her walker.
On a very special note, Cassi is now hanging out with her friends and will soon be able to return to her love of swimming with a pool hoist being installed at home.
Helen also thanked her BBIS case manager for ensuring that everything was in place when Cassi was ready to return home, including personal care adjustments and aids in the home, as well as equipment and ongoing therapy in the community.
Helen also thanked everyone for the ongoing care and therapy she is receiving through the National Injury Insurance Scheme Queensland who are funding local providers to continue her care at home.
The Brighton Brain Injury Service provides specialist rehabilitation for younger adults with an acquired brain injury. The service works closely with patients and their families to achieve person-centered rehabilitation goals and support them to return to community-based living.