Published on March 28, 2019

LIFT Patients Share Stories Through Art

LIFT Masks

Bordering the rim of the bright orange and pink mask designed by Russell Carlson, M.D. are the words telling his story of brain injury and recovery.

His words are appreciation, alive, excited, eager, optimistic and maybe the most important … lucky.

Dr. Carlson was lucky. About 40 percent of people with a ruptured brain aneurysm die quickly from the initial bleeding in the brain. Another 15 percent die on the way to the hospital.

Of the survivors, about two-thirds suffer some permanent neurological deficit. He notes he has experienced short-term memory deficit.

“I couldn’t talk at first but that came back quickly,’’ he said.


Dr. Carlson, an orthopedic surgeon with ORA Orthopedics, was lucky his wife found him quickly. He was lucky to survive the transfer from Genesis to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He was probably lucky to survive the surgeries necessary to repair the damage.


LIFT Focus On Rehabilitation

Dr. CarlsonDr. Carlson is now back at Genesis in the Learning Independence For Tomorrow (LIFT) recovery program, the only program of its kind in the Quad Cities.

LIFT is a CARF-accredited day treatment program focused on rehabilitation for adults after neurological injuries, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. The multi-disciplinary program is staffed with a comprehensive team from occupational therapy, speech therapy, and therapeutic recreation who are brain injury specialists and who are dedicated to providing the highest level of care and service.

LIFT uses a collaborative, interdisciplinary team approach in order to provide the best possible care. LIFT works with individuals who are trying to re-gain their independence after an injury, many of whom have goals to return to work, driving, school, and/or leisure activities.

LIFT participants meet regularly in a learning and support setting.

“The fact that Genesis has a program like LIFT is amazing,’’ Dr. Carlson said. “It has made so much difference, not just in recovery, but in being around people who understand what you are going through. It helps get your feelings out in a group setting like this.

“It gives you a different perspective, that’s for sure.’’

LIFT participants recently painted masks illustrating their stories and recoveries. The masks are part of the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa exhibition that travels the state.

Masks Tell Individual Stories

Ali Kline poses with her maskAlexandria “Ali’’ Kline, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a worksite accident, designed a distinctly two-sided mask. One side dominated by gray and clouds represents the unknown of her injury, the hospital stay, the confusion. The other side is dominated by the sun, its light and hope.

“The sun always shines through eventually,’’ she explained.

“LIFT is more than therapy,’’ explained Claire Motto, speech therapist with the LIFT program. “There are so many benefits, including social benefits and emotional benefits. When you are in LIFT, you are around people who understand what you are going through. You have a shared experience.’’

Ali Kline said, “You get to know each other so well. We get great support from each other.’’

It has been a long journey already for Dr. Carlson but remember that one of the words on his mask is optimistic. He wants to return as fully as possible to his practice eventually.

He is back at ORA Orthopedics shadowing surgeries with others in the group and is optimistic he will be able to see patients and perform surgery again in the future.

"Just being able to shadow surgeries has meant a lot to me. I can't say enough about the support I've had from everyone at ORA,'' Carlson said "They have been awesome. They have given me time to really recover.''

For more information about the benefits of the Genesis LIFT program, call (563) 421-3460. #Winning #InThisTogether

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