March 26, 2013

Therapy helps woman overcome brain injury

PLATTSBURGH — Barbara and Mike Pavone were childhood sweethearts and married shortly after Barbara graduated from Peru High School in 1972.

They’ve been partners ever since, sharing their lives and strengthening the bond that first brought them together.

That bond was nearly broken in October 2011, however, when Barbara was involved in a serious automobile accident that left her in a coma with severe traumatic-brain injury.

“Barbara was a caregiver for several people in her family,” Mike said of that October morning a few days before Halloween when Barbara and her sister, Patty, were taking her mother, Joyce Conners, to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington for an appointment.

Barbara’s family members suffered minor injuries in the accident, but Barbara was thrown forward from the back seat into the windshield and was transported to Fletcher Allen unconscious and with life-threatening injuries.

“I was at work when I received the call (that Barbara had been in a serious accident),” said Mike, who was working in the Computer Systems department for CVPH Medical Center at the time. “It was a terrible moment.”

Barbara remained in a coma for two weeks. She then woke up but was in a semiconscious state for two months.

“After three months (at Fletcher Allen), she had gotten to a point where she was medically stable and needed to be moved (from the hospital setting),” Mike said. “We needed to start looking more at long-term care.”

She was transferred to CVPH Medical Center’s Skilled Nursing Facility, where she would receive 24-hour care. She was still being fed by tubes and could not perform physical functions. Doctors had given little hope that she would progress much beyond her current condition.

But they did not count on Barbara’s inner determination, her devotion to her faith and the love between her and her family.

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