Originally Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013, 9:37 am
Last Updated: Jan. 14, 2013, 8:44 pm

Port Byron native overcomes brain injury

Comment on this story

By Laura Anderson Shaw, landerson@qconline.com

Photo: Laura Anderson Shaw
Port Byron native Molly Cain is on the road to recovery after she received a traumatic brain injury in a fall down a flight of stairs in her Fort Collins, Colo. home. Ms. Cain, who was a part of Genesis Health System's LIFT (Learning Independence for Tomorrow) program, spoke to current LIFT patients one recent morning at the System's Maplecrest facility in Bettendorf.

Nothing can stop Molly Cain.

The bubbly 22-year-old Port Byron native is recovering from a traumatic brain injury that left her in a coma for roughly two weeks after she fell down a flight of stairs in her Fort Collins, Colo., home last spring.

She shared her inspiring story with patients in Genesis Health System's LIFT (Learning Independence for Tomorrow) program one recent morning at Genesis' Maplecrest facility in Bettendorf.

The LIFT programis an outpatient-based program for brain injury rehabilitation where Ms. Cain recuperated from June to September last year.

She showed the handful of LIFT patients that she could walk, jump, move and control her right arm--three things she couldn't do when she came out of a coma in April.

After she graduated from Riverdale High School in 2008, she bounced around to a few colleges but could never find a place that fit. She visited a friend who was interning in Fort Collins, Colo., and fell in love with the area.After making a plan with her mom, she moved.

She was living a busy life in Fort Collins, waitressing at Texas Road House, coaching gymnastics at a local gym and helping her friends and neighbors get into shape.

On March 30, she remembers talking with her mother on the phone and cooking breakfast.

Then, she woke up in a Colorado hospital bed two weeks later.

Her mother told her she had an accident and fell down the stairs. Her boyfriend at the time found her there, "snoring," Ms. Cain recalled.

She was rushed toPoudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins where she began to wake up during the second week of April. She was transferred to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., where she said she first had recognition of being awake on April 17.

Her right side was paralyzed. She couldn't "walk, talk or smile," and didn't know when she would.

But she was optimistic."I can get through this because I'm strong," she said.

She worked with therapists to regain her speech, and learned how to walk again in May with the help of parallel bars.

To illustrate how far she's come, she passed out pens to the group of LIFT patients, and asked that they hold them in their right hands.

"I couldn't do this for a month after I woke up," she said. But "day by day, I get stronger and stronger."

Throughout her recovery, she said she hasn't gotten down on herself very often. But sometimes, it takes a toll having to relearn tasks she has done since she was young. For instance, the first time she was asked to write her name, she couldn't.

She held a pen over a legal pad for over an hour, she said. It was difficult to accept she couldn't write her name.

"It really hurt," she said.

But her mother, Shelly Wells Cain, wouldn't let her wallow for long. Ms. Cain said her mother took her to a bookstore in the hospital where she got a pair of fuzzy pig slippers.

It "made me feel better," she said."She (mom) didn't let me stay in that mood."

Ms. Cain said she was a determined young woman before her accident, and since then, her strength, determination and motivation have gotten "10-times bigger."She was released from Craig Hospital on May 31, she said, started the LIFT program at Genesis in June and graduated in September.

While she sometimes has bouts with a bit of confusion, she is working on strengthening her cognitive skills with games likeLumacity, and she has worked out often at a local gym. She joined her first fitness class since the accident in November, and while she cannot ride a regular bike yet, she has taken spin classes.

The first time she hopped on a spin bike, she "road for over an hour," she said. "It was the coolest thing."

Since she's been back in the QC, she has spent a lot of her time volunteering and visiting with friends and family.She got her driver's license back last September, and she is returning to Fort Collins this week.

Ms. Wells Cain said her daughter has "the most amazing young adult friends" in Fort Collins, and while she's sad to see her leave, she is grateful her daughter was able to regain her independence.

Looking back, Ms. Wells Cain said it's easier to see her daughter's progress.

"Her personality is still the same," she said. "She works herself," Ms. Wells Cain said, adding Molly is the "most self-motivated individual" she knows.

Ms. Cain said she has been patient with herself throughout the process, and knew all along that recovery "doesn't happen overnight."

Now, she is trying to get back to being healthy and active; "new Molly." She has the chance to change whatever she didn't like about "old Molly," she said.

"Now, I can start a new life."

For more information about Molly Cain and her journey, visit her website at www.mollycain.com, or her Facebook site, www.facebook.com/pullingformollycain.