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Ashley Juntilla: Everyone here is like family!

"I wake up in the morning and can't wait to get here!" says Ashley Juntilla about Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. Her silky brown hair catches the light as she unwittingly flashes a dazzling smile. "Everyone here is like family!"

She has traveled a long road to find this family. In 2012, at 23, she was involved in a motorcycle accident and received a traumatic brain injury. Following 10 days in a coma and weeks in intensive care, she awoke to double vision, right-side paralysis, and deficits in speech, memory and cognition.

After six weeks in physical, occupational and speech therapies, Ashley entered the inpatient Transitional Rehab Program at the Institute where "I worked on everything! I did physical therapy exercises to rebuild my bruised body; occupational therapy to help me dress, bathe and feed myself; and speech therapy to help me improve my thinking and memory to keep me on track." Adds her mom, Nancy, "Ashley was surrounded with excellent therapists who truly care."

"One day my physical therapist, told me, 'Ashley, I don't want to see you using that wheelchair anymore. You're going to walk.' I was extremely nervous, but, with his help, I took a few steps. I did it because he believed I could."

Today, she no longer needs a wheelchair or the speech and occupational therapies; yet, she works out daily in the Institute's Fitness Center and uses the pool to regain her strength and stamina. She has joined the Institute's swim team and golf team, and, "for the first time ever, I completed 18 holes!"

Ashley uses Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute's Advanced Primary Care Clinic, where the doctors and nurses specialize in treating patients with disabilities and complex medical conditions. "They know my entire history, so they treat all of me, which is really helpful."

Soon, Ashley begins the Institute's Community Reintegration Program, an intensive, six-month program designed to maximize her abilities and independence in her community. "I'm excited to begin this program because it will help me function on my own with less dependence on my parents. Don't get me wrong: I love my parents and I love living at home, but I know I need to be more independent and am excited to work toward that goal."

And longer term? "I want to volunteer at the Institute and perhaps work in some area of sports and fitness. This place has an aura of respect and understanding. No one judges you; they just help you move forward to be the best person you can be. I'm grateful for all they have given me, and I'd like to contribute to providing that to others."

Ashley Juntilla