Atlanta, GA,
15:18 PM

Focused on Her Goals

Not even a brain injury could stop Maria Motta from pursuing her dreams.

Maria Motta had a plan. After she graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in May 2022, she would move to New York City and get a job as a graphic designer.

Unfortunately, those plans were derailed when a car she was riding in was t-boned by an impaired driver in March 2022 — just months before graduation. Maria sustained a broken hip, broken ribs, a fractured orbital bone, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). She was in intensive care for two weeks at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, during which a family friend recommended that she consider Shepherd Center’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program.

She transferred to Shepherd Center, and her mother, who lives in Panama City, Panama, where Maria is from, accompanied her. Because of the TBI, Maria had difficulty processing what was happening. She thought she and her mother were in a hotel room. She tried to walk, not understanding that she had a broken hip.

She worked with physical, occupational, and speech therapists to regain strength, balance, memory, and executive functioning skills. After a month, Maria transitioned to Shepherd Pathways, Shepherd Center’s comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation program for people recovering from brain injury. She continued therapy with the goal of returning to school, graduating, and finding a job. As she improved, she was able to do her schoolwork from Pathways, and her graduation was delayed by only three months.

“I just wanted to get back to living my life,” Maria says. “And Shepherd Center gave me the building blocks to do that.”

After graduating from SCAD in August 2022, Maria followed through with her plan and moved to New York with a friend, eventually landing a six-month internship at a branding studio. She now lives in Brooklyn with a couple of roommates and navigates the subway system commuting to her job in Manhattan as a junior designer at a consulting firm.

Though she never lost sight of her plan, she credits Shepherd Center for helping her execute it.

“The staff at Shepherd Center helps you reach your goals realistically and practically,” Maria says. “They made me feel capable and fueled my ambition. None of them said, ‘You can’t do this.’ Instead, they said, ‘Let’s try this so you can do this.’”

 Written by Sara Baxter

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.