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McKenzy, Traumatic Brain Injury


At 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, 2007, McKenzy Winne was riding with two friends on the tailgate of a pickup truck in the Weston Lakes subdivision of Fulshear, Texas. She was seated in the middle with her feet dangling down. Suddenly and without warning, McKenzy was thrown from the tailgate. She tried to stand up, then collapsed in the street.

Flown to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center's Level 1 Trauma Center by Memorial Hermann Life Flight®, McKenzy was admitted to the neurotrauma intensive care unit at Mischer Neuroscience Institute. She had very little brain function when she arrived at the hospital.

In a three-hour surgery, Nitin Tandon, M.D., removed a blood clot and a small portion of McKenzy's skull to decompress the affected region of the brain. Because she'd gotten to the hospital quickly after the accident and given her young age, her care team was guardedly optimistic.

McKenzy was in a coma for 25 days. When she regained consciousness on Oct. 10, 2007, she was transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann, where her recovery began. At first she could only open her eyes. Then she began to smile.

After six weeks of inpatient rehabilitation in TIRR's Brain Injury Program under the medical direction of physiatrist Cindy B. Ivanhoe, M.D., McKenzy learned to make each muscle in her body respond and then worked to retrain it. In addition to physical, occupational and speech therapy, she had neuropsychology sessions and participated in a variety of cognitive groups. She also did independent therapy to speed her progress. She went from being unable to move to being able to comb her hair, brush her teeth and take care of her basic bodily needs. As soon as she reached one milestone, she'd tackle another.

Learning to walk without a cane is McKenzy's milestone of the moment. Following three-and-a-half months of daily outpatient therapy at TIRR, she graduated to therapy three days a week at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Clinic in Katy, where she continues to improve.

Both of McKenzy's parents are proud of the progress she's made. McKenzy graduated on time from high school, in the top 25% of her class. Her next milestone is to graduate from college and to pursue a law degree.