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Success Story from Denver, CO

Andrea Briggs

A car accident left Andrea with broken bones and a traumatic brain injury. Unable to walk, talk, lift her head or feed herself, Andrea had to relearn basic skills.

On July 26, 2011, Andrea Briggs was on her way home from a Denver ice cream shop when the car she was in was broadsided by an oncoming vehicle. The 20-year-old college student sustained a traumatic brain injury and broken bones. Paramedics on the scene did not expect Andrea to survive.

“All my memory from January until [July] was wiped out,” Andrea said. “I could not walk. I could not hold my head up. I could not talk. I could not feed myself. I could not do anything.”

Earlier that summer, Andrea heard she made the dean’s list at the University of Colorado at Denver. Her family describes her as smart and sweet, with a ready laugh, ferocious spirit, giant dreams, and a joyful soundtrack.

Andrea was about to embark on incredibly important work, relearning all the skills necessary to be independent.

Together with her team of therapists at Craig, Andrea fought every day to progress physically and cognitively. “The people here, they push me,” she said, “and I love it because I know it’s going to get me to home base.”

Since her injury, Andrea has regained the ability to eat and drink, smile and laugh, understand stories and do math, and walk with a cane.

Her mother writes that, “All through the grueling, often painful rehab work, Andrea maintains her sweetness, her smile and her inherent toughness. She is fearless. She has taught us all the true meaning of ‘warrior.’”

Two and a half years after her accident, Andrea moved into a simulation apartment. She regained enough independence to transition to her own place several months later, in early 2014. Andrea said she is now learning how to cook, clean, go on social outings and use public transportation. She is back on Facebook, she writes a blog, listens to music and hangs out with friends. 2014 also marks the year Andrea returned to school.

“How far I’ve come makes me feel really, really, really great.” Andrea said. “I love Craig. It is like my second home.”

Team Members

  • Alan H. Weintraub, M.D., Physician; BI Program Medical Director

    CNS Physician Group

    Alan H. Weintraub, M.D., has been Medical Director of the Brain Injury Program at Craig Hospital since 1986. Dr. Weintraub also served as Medical Director for the Rocky Mountain Regional Brain Injury System, a federally designated Model System of Care with extensive clinical research and dissemination activities. Dr. Weintraub has served as Medical Director of a post acute residential brain injury program and long term subacute brain injury program during his tenure in practice. He also is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and an active consultant to the Colorado Division of Worker's Compensation Medical Treatment Guidelines TBI Task Force. He is board certified in PM&R and is fellowship trained in neurotrauma, brain injury and spinal cord injury. Dr. Weintraub has special interests in pharmacological management of adults with brain injury, spasticity, sports-related concussion and the long term consequences of brain injury. He is actively involved in local, regional and national organizations and is devoted to the aging and long term needs of brain injured survivors and their families. Dr. Weintraub continues to lecture to broad audiences and has written on a number of specific topics related to traumatic and acquired brain injury.

  • Kent Hamstra, Inpatient Counselor

    Clinical Care Management

    Kent Hamstra MA, received his training and degree in Psychology from Hastings College in 1985 and Master of Arts degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from University of Iowa in 1986. He has been a member of the Craig Hospital inpatient TBI clinical team since 1987. Kent has been involved with multiple projects involving TBI. He is a member of the Craig Hospital TBI Supervisors Group.

  • Ashley Goodson, Outpatient CCM

    Clinical Care Management

    Bio here...

  • Nina Jensen, Community Reintegration Specialist

    Community Reintegration

Gaining Independence

Andrea Briggs, Traumatic Brain Injury Patient in Pet Therapy at Craig Hospital

“I feel like my life has more meaning now. I’ve fought so hard, man. I feel like I am where I am today because of what Craig has done for me.”

“The people here, they push me, and I love it because I know it’s going to get me home base,” she said. She worked hard with her team of therapists, and she is thrilled to live independently again. “I love Craig,” she said. “It is like my second home.”

Andrea Briggs, Craig Grad 2011