Spend a few minutes with Kiera Pheiffer, and there is no doubt you are talking to someone with a unique perspective on herself and the world around her. Despite having been through a life threatening car accident at the end of her street during her senior year of high school, Kiera has an infectious positive attitude and a lot to look forward to.
Kiera’s accident left her with a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, torn aorta, ruptured spleen and left side weakness. When she arrived at the hospital, doctors told her family that her injuries were extremely serious. In a coma, she spent the next month at the hospital, having various surgeries and starting the long road to recovery. Her parents began to think about the next step for their daughter in terms of long-term rehabilitation.
“We knew we wanted someplace close to home,” says Helene Pheiffer, Kiera’s mother. “We toured Good Shepherd’s pediatric unit in Bethlehem at the recommendation of a social worker at the hospital and knew it was the right place for Kiera. Being near younger children would help her.”
Kiera arrived at Good Shepherd in November and would spend 241 days in the inpatient pediatric unit. Upon arrival, she was still in a coma and completely reliant on her care team and family as well as feeding and breathing tubes for her survival. Her care team, consisting of pediatric physiatrists, psychologists, occupational, physical, speech, recreational and respiratory therapists, worked with Kiera for several hours every day.
The cooperation between Kiera’s family and her Good Shepherd care team was an essential part of her rehabilitation. The care team met with her family once a week to set goals and review progress. Her family was involved in much of Kiera’s therapy and helped her carry newly-relearned skills outside of therapy sessions.
This support, combined with Kiera’s desire to get back to her life and the expertise of her Good Shepherd care team, helped her persevere through tough times to eventually regain the ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe on her own.
“At first, I was mad about what happened to me,” says Kiera. “But I realized that I did not want to live like this. I decided early on that I wanted to walk at my high school graduation in June. Everyone at Good Shepherd worked that goal into my therapy.”
Not only did Kiera walk at her graduation, but she says she has learned important life lessons as a result of the accident – lessons about acceptance, patience and love.
“Before the accident, I had the patience of a gnat,” says Kiera. “It takes me longer to do things now, so I have learned to accept that and love myself the way I am.”
“I also am more loving now,” says Kiera. “Before the accident, I kept my feelings to myself and did not share much. Now, I know how precious life is, and I constantly thank my parents and tell them how much I love them. I have also learned who my true friends are – the people who like me not for what I can do but who simply like me for me.”
Kiera keeps those lessons front and center as she begins planning her future. She is writing a book and wants to be an inspirational speaker who travels to schools and shares her life experience and positive attitude with kids.
For more information on how Good Shepherd can help with recovery from traumatic injuries, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.