RIC patient Kendrick Hopson's young life was tragically interrupted when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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RIC in the News

Published on October 05, 2016

Kendrick’s Story: Back After a Traumatic Brain Injury


The toddler years are meant to be a time of discovery, play and learning. For RIC patient Kendrick Hopson, however, this period of growth was tragically interrupted when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in his hometown of Rockford, Ill. The little boy, known as “Junior” to his family, was just two months shy of his second birthday.


Kendrick was admitted to RIC in August 2015 after a referral from his local hospital. Having sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), he was no longer the active toddler who ran and played with family, got into mischief or smiled his way out of trouble. Kendrick’s grandmother, Frances Scott, agonized over her grandson’s blank stare.


When Kendrick arrived at RIC he was confined to bed, unable to move and dependent on feeding tubes for nutrition. His head was supported by a neck brace, and his ability to communicate was minimal.


“I was not familiar with RIC,” said Frances. “But today I can say that I’m so grateful Kendrick came here. I knew right away that we came to a special place.”


Kendrick’s team of speech, physical and occupational therapists was committed to helping him regain as much ability as possible — mobility, dexterity, communication skills — but they walked a fine line. They knew that too much stimulation for a toddler with a brain injury could be counterproductive to recovery, and so they developed an evidence-based approach to fit his unique needs.


RIC’s Technology Center was consulted to assist in developing his treatment plan, which included use of digital devices that would help him recover cognitive and communication skills. Regaining these key abilities would maximize Kendrick’s potential for continued healing and independence.


Thanks to Kendrick’s hard work in physical therapy, which focused on his muscles and mobility, he was able to leave his bed. This new freedom meant Kendrick could make the rounds on and off the unit in a specialized wheelchair. Soon he regained the ability to eat solid foods (yogurt was a favorite, sausage not so much). He also learned how to use his voice again and developed better hand and arm control. Best yet, his happy personality returned.Kendrick


Getting the best rehabilitation care as soon as possible after his injury was crucial to Kendrick’s level and pace of recovery. After three weeks of intensive and state-of-the-art therapies at RIC, he had laid the foundation for ongoing healing following discharge.


“I miss our RIC family,” said Frances. “His care and the support we had were tremendous. Kendrick might never have talked again, or even smiled, but he is doing those things now. I never thought he would get to this point. Junior is back!”