On April 24, 2007, Lynda performed her normal morning routine and left for her job as a K-4 teacher. Three hours later her husband was called as she was exhibiting levels of “confusion”. By that evening she was hospitalized with viral encephalitis.
As a result of the encephalitis Lynda was in the Neural Intensive Care unit for 8 weeks being aroused for only seconds at a time. She spent another 8 weeks in a recovery unit where she slowly regained the ability to stay awake, but was not able to orient herself. In addition to her inability to orientate herself and having a memory measured in minutes, she was diagnosed with severe Wernicke’s aphasia.
Over the next few months Lynda’s ability to become orientated and take care of herself improved, but she showed only minor improvement in her expressive and receptive communications.
As one can imagine, her inability to communicate was a life changing blow to her and to her family and friends. During the first year of recovery her husband arranged for a 24 hour caregiver (as she could not be left alone), and numerous types of therapy including speech therapy. Near the end of the first year, Lynda was enrolled in the 4.5 week InteRACT intensive therapy program at Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia. During this program she showed significant improvement. 18 months after onset of the encephalitis (6 months after her first session at InteRACT) her abilities to stay by herself at home improved and the caregiver was no longer needed. But the aphasia continued.
Lynda then received a Lingraphica and the associated speech therapy as well as additional speech therapy from a local therapist. Over the next two years, Lynda had two more sessions in Halifax. Three years after the onset of the encephalitis, Lynda was examined by the Virginia DMV and found competent to regain her driving privileges (limited to 10 miles from home).
It has now been 7 years since Lynda became ill. During that period she has made significant improvement and has attended a total of 6 InteRACT program sessions and, although reading is still a challenge, is now evaluated with “mild” aphasia.
Lynda’s life will obviously never be the same. However, Lynda is an excellent example of brain plasticity. She continues to improve even in her reading as she takes reading lessons 2 times a week. Although she will never be able to teach again, Lynda and her husband have returned to a “fairly normal” good quality of life.