Atlanta, GA,
10:20 AM

Virginia Woman Regains Independence After Rehabilitation for a Brain Injury

Ashley Mayhew, 18, learns to drive again and heads to college.

Ashley Mayhew, 18, says college has taken a bit of an adjustment. When she graduated from high school this past May, she stood on stage with her entire senior class – a class of nine. When Ashley entered her first class this fall as a freshman at Liberty University, she did so along with about 500 other classmates.

“That first day was a little overwhelming,” Ashley says.

But there was something else she felt that first day as a college student. Something she didn’t know she’d feel again a couple years before. Independence.

On Sept. 27, 2015, Ashley sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash. First responders doubted she’d survive, and Ashley remained in a coma for three full weeks. A little more than a week after she awoke at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, though, Ashley was transferred to Shepherd Center to enter the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program. There, she relearned how to breathe, walk, eat and start talking again.

“I loved everyone at Shepherd Center,” Ashley says. “They were so supportive and they had so many therapy options. There was music, games, yoga, swimming. They did not let you get bored!”

She laughs and recalls the moment when she realized just how much she appreciated her time in Atlanta.

“I remember being at Shepherd Center and being homesick,” Ashley says. “Then we got back home and I immediately wanted to go back to Shepherd Center!”

She is nothing if not resilient. After returning home, the biggest goal she set for herself was to learn to drive again. This fall, she is driving, indeed – commuting the 30-some miles between Hurt and Liberty’s campus in Lynchburg. The arrangement allows her to live at home and still be involved in family nights that she relishes with siblings, nieces and nephews.

Ashley’s goal is to one day be a social worker, perhaps with an adoption agency. Nobody doubts her resolve. Back at her high school graduation, Ashley was the recipient of a Tenacity Award for “extraordinary perseverance and academic excellence.” Despite her injury – and the four months she spent at Shepherd Center – Ashley graduated on time with a 4.11 GPA.

Written by Phillip Jordan

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.