UD Brain Collaborative hosting mother, daughter co-authors on traumatic brain injuries

The University of Dayton’s Brain Health Collaboratory is hosting a mother and daughter later this month who are co-authors of book detailing their experience with a traumatic brain injury.

Paige Knechtly was a senior at the University of Cincinnati when she was struck by a car on Sept. 9, 2018, causing a severe brain injury and nerve damage in her foot. Her mother, Roberta Campbell, was in California at the time for work.

Returning back home to the Cincinnati region, Campbell not only had to deal with the shock of the accident, but she also became a caregiver for her daughter while Knechtly recovered from her injuries and retrained her brain on tasks she could previously do with ease.

“It’s just one day you’re OK, and then the next day you’re just in excruciating pain,” Knechtly said about her accident.

Campbell and Knechtly will be in Dayton sharing their stories from 3-5 p.m. on Friday in the Torch Lounge in the Kennedy Union at the University of Dayton. They will have copies of their book detailing their experience with Knechtly’s traumatic brain injury available for signing.

“The first thing that I noticed was abnormal behavior,” Campbell said. “She was acting different.”

The next day, Knechtly’s brain injury had progressed to the point where she couldn’t move or talk, Campbell said. Knechtly was also dealing with a severe migraine resulting from the bleeding, bruising, and swelling on the brain.

“For the next two weeks, it was awful,” Campbell said.

Knechtly was in and out of different hospitals for the 10 days after her accident. She also had to go through physical therapy to relearn how to walk following the nerve damage in her left foot.

At the time, Knechtly had been living on her own, so they each experienced an adjustment when Knechtly moved back into her mother’s apartment during her recovery.

Knechtly still experiences health issues on a regular basis due to her brain injury, including frequent migraines and needing at least 10 hours of sleep each day. She also has to take cognitive breaks throughout the day. Beeping noises and driving in the rain — because her accident took place in the rain — can also be difficult for her.

“I just try to make the best out of every day,” Knechtly said.

Knechtly also lost her sense of taste and smell for a period of time following her accident, which she has slowly regained.

She took a few months away from the University of Cincinnati, and disability services helped her complete her education studying public health and health promotion. She now is pursuing a music career and has a merchandise business. She recently released the song “Fearless.”

The Brain Collaborative event featuring Campbell and Knechtly is free, but space is limited. Organizers are asking attendees to register by Wednesday. Parking information will be sent following registration, which can be found at bit.ly/3ECTmts.

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