MIDDLEBURY — Six months after being hit by a car while riding her bicycle, Zion Carlstrom has made significant strides in her recovery.
“They (doctors) said I healed way quicker than they figured I would because of all the bad injuries,” she said.
Zion noted that she no longer needs the assistance of a wheelchair or walker to get around.
“A lot of her physical ailments are 95 percent healed at this point,” Zion’s father, Blair Carlstrom, explained. “Physically, she’s in really great condition.”
Her parents, Blair and Tracy, did say that Zion still gets tired very easily and takes naps almost daily, but that is a result of the brain injuries sustained in the accident.
Zion, 17, was able to return to school in October, taking one class every other day at Northridge High School, where she is a senior. This semester, she’s begun taking two classes as she hopes to graduate at the end of the year.
Her schedule is busy as she also spends two days a week with physical, occupational and speech therapists. Zion is also seeing a neuropsychologist.
“Where we’re at is all normal,” Blair said. “I think that was what was really helpful for the conversation we had with the neuropsychologist.”
Though doctors have told Zion and her family that she’s doing very well considering her injuries, there is still some uncertainty.
“They can’t tell us what’s permanent for another six months,” Blair said. “All the brain injury stuff, they won’t even give a long-term assessment for six months.”
Tracy Carlstrom said her daughter has struggled with attention span and has experienced short-term memory trouble periodically.
The Carlstroms also explained that much of Zion’s recovery now will focus on relearning how to act and respond in social situations.
“Zion’s filter is not functioning well, socially, how she interacts,” Blair explained.
“She looks like a 17-year-old, acts like a 17-year-old, but responses to situations are more like she’s much younger — 10 or 11,” Tracy added. “She’s forgotten those things so now at 17 she’s relearning.”
Still, Zion has faced her recovery and rehabilitation with confidence and a gratitude for the help her family has received since the accident.
“There’s so many people that are willing to just use prayer,” Zion said, “and just being supportive of my family when I couldn’t be there to do that.”
Blair said Zion’s condition has provided the family with some perspective. “We’ve met people whose situations have not turned out even as well as ours at this point and we still have a ways to go, so we feel very fortunate and blessed by God.”