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State Council for Persons with Disabilities

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My name is Amy Burhop and I am the mother and primary caregiver of a TBI survivor. On July 24, 2012 my daughter, Danielle (Dani- 13 years old), was attempting to cross the road out front of our home in Bridgeville, Delaware when she was struck by a car traveling at 55mph. Dani was flown to Christiana Hospital where she was stabilized and immediately transferred to AI Dupont hospital for children in Wilmington. She sustained several orthopedic injuries such as two broken legs, a broken arm, a shattered pelvis, a fractured skull and severe road rash from hip to toes on both legs. The initial scan they did on her brain showed lots of swelling but it was inconclusive as to if she sustained a brain injury. After three days of not waking up they decided to rescan her brain and discovered she suffered from Diffused Axonal Injury. At this point we had no idea what life would be like when/if she woke up. After almost 10 days in a coma, we slowly started to see Dani start to awaken, but this certainly was not the Dani that we knew. In the ICU she endured a 9-hour surgery to fix her orthopedic issues and slowly started to respond to us. There would be a squeeze of the hand here, an opening of the eyes there, but not “our” Dani yet. After 10 days in ICU they transferred her up to the rehab floor where she spent about 3 months in inpatient rehab and basically learning to walk, talk and function again.

In late September Dani was released from inpatient and we spent the better part of that year living at the Ronald McDonald house as Dani was a part of the C.O.R.P. program (outpatient rehab), enduring 6 hours of occupational, physical, psychological and schooling each day (5 days a week). Slowly but surely, we were getting our “Dani” back to us. Eventually they were able to gradually incorporate Danielle back into school, with lots of support. Dani endured several more surgeries on her body but her brain continues to improve every day. She is truly a miracle in our eyes. She graduated high school and attempted one semester of college but decided that this was just not for her. She has significant memory issues but tries so hard to overcome any obstacle thrown her way.

Currently Danielle is a thriving 21-year-old with a full-time job at our local grocery store. She is a happy, caring and helpful member of our community. Dani still and probably always will struggle from the difficulties of TBI, but she pushes through and takes one day at a time. Both of us are members of the Sussex County Brain Injury Support group and this has been such a blessing. We find that surrounding ourselves with others going through similar experiences can be so helpful and healing.