(PHOENIX, AZ) – The Arizona Speech-Language-Hearing Association annually selects a child of the year to represent those with speech, language or hearing disorders across the state. This year’s recipient of the Child of the Year award is Montserrat Contreras, a nominee of ResCare’s Rehab Without Walls Home and Community Program.
Ms. Contreras suffered a brain stroke in June 2011 at the age of nine. The stroke was caused by an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in her brain. After being rushed into emergency surgery, she suffered two seizures. Three weeks after leaving the hospital, she developed a severe skin allergic reaction to seizure medication and had to be hospitalized for pain and infection control for another two weeks.
The brain surgery caused Ms. Contreras to have severe weakness in the right side of her body and an inability to rememberwords andhow to express her thoughts and feelings. The allergic reaction prevented Ms. Contreras from eating, drinking or swallowing for more than a week.
Ms. Contreras was discharged to her home with neuro-rehabilitation provided by ResCare’s Rehab Without Walls Home and Community Program. Rehab Without Walls (RWW) specializes in helping people who have experienced a brain injury, spinal cord injury or stroke through accident or illness. The program improves the recovery process by working with the individual at their home, school, community or workplace.
As a result of her stroke, Ms. Contreras experienced many difficulties. Impaired language caused her to struggle with reading out loud and she often stuttered while searching for words. She had difficulty with tasks requiring quick responses and working memory, including math calculations. Ms. Contreras was self-conscious about her difficulties and withdrew from friends. She was more irritable, had emotional outbursts and was anxious about her medical and physical issues.
RWW provided Ms. Contreras with therapy at home and in the community for several months. Ms. Contreras was able to gradually begin attending school through a plan developed by RWW. She started with half days and steadily increased her time in the classroom as rehabilitation services slowly decreased. Her homework initially took hours to complete, but Ms. Contreras got much faster as her attention improved. She is now at school full time and has resumed playing soccer and attending Girl Scouts. Her skin disorder has improved allowing her to swim and play outside.
Despite the pain, suffering and inability to control her movements and speech, Ms. Contreras persevered with strength and resolve. She focused on rehab activities, paying attention to the doctors and working on the prescribed exercises. Ms. Contreras continues to work hard to overcome obstacles and has made tremendous strides in her recovery.
See more about Ms. Contreras on AZCentral.com.