Ethan: Speech Therapy

Image of Ethan Walker.

At just 18 years old, Ethan experienced a traumatic brain injury after an ATV accident, which resulted in a brain bleed. After being flown to UPMC Presbyterian and later transferred to UPMC Montefiore, Ethan underwent many surgeries and received treatment from numerous providers, yet he still faced a big challenge: memory loss. Even though he was in the hospital for 12 days, Ethan could only remember two of them. His memory loss prevented him from driving and hanging out with friends, and it began to create challenges when talking to others. In addition, he was unable to continue with his welding career.

When Ethan’s mother, Hillary, began seeing a psychologist for guidance, she learned about outpatient rehabilitation at UPMC Rehabilitation Institute and its care options, specifically the memory loss and cognitive rehab program.

In addition to cognitive rehab, Ethan also needed physical therapy and occupational therapy to help him with motions and moving properly. So, with a referral from one of his providers, Ethan was able to receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and cognitive therapy all in one location at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

Regaining His Independence and Function

While in speech therapy, Ethan’s speech language pathologist, Marissa Vetica, put together exercise programs that addressed several areas of cognitive linguistic functions, including:

  • Attention.
  • Memory.
  • Shape recognition skills.
  • Problem solving and reasoning.

“I can’t say enough about Marissa,” says Hillary. “She knew what was going on with him before he even knew. She knew exactly what he was going through and how to treat his memory.”

According to Ethan and his mother, he connected with Marissa in a way he was unable to connect with any other of his providers. She was able to explain things to him in a way he understood and could feel encouraged. Shortly after beginning therapy, Hillary noticed her son’s demeanor changed completely.

“Marissa pushed Ethan in the right direction,” says Hillary.

Soon enough, Ethan’s mental status began to improve and, within six months of the accident, he was approved to drive again. He was also able to reenter the workforce, working in lawn care until he can repursue his welding career.

According to Ethan, he thinks it’s important to always stay positive and keep moving forward. “Marissa is amazing and helped me a lot,” he says.

“I’m so grateful for Marissa and the care my son received from the beginning,” Hillary says. “She helped him regain some of his independence and start getting back to normal, and I can’t thank her enough.”

Read more stories from cognitive therapy patients.