GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The headline is that Caitlin Little is finally getting her memory back.
She has spent more than four years trying to recover from anterograde amnesia following a blow to the head at cross-country practice in October of 2017. But read deep into the story, and you find that her recovered memory isn’t like most of ours.
“She recalls things, but it’s not like it’s her own experience because she wasn’t there in the moment,” says Caitlin’s father, Chris Little. “It’s like watching a picture of yourself three years ago doing something. It’s not the same thing as living through it and being able to recall it.”
One of the things Caitlin is battling is understanding things in time.
“For five years, she had no time sense,” says Chris. “There was no tomorrow or yesterday or 15 minutes from now. And that’s one of the most key things that I noticed that allowed me to tell she was improving, is that she’d have the sense of 15 minutes from now or an hour from now and then, when she said, ‘Tomorrow,’ it was absolutely stunning.”
The Littles credit most of her recovery to the work of concussion specialist Dr. Charles Simkovich in Pittsburgh.
“Now, we’re finding out, in over 80% of concussions, the pituitary is damaged which is the master gland,” says Simkovich. “So, now there are all kinds of organic problems showing up like hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome.”
Caitlin has exhibited much of all that. But her regular trips to Pittsburgh are paying off – not just in treatment but in understanding what all happened to Caitlin.
“She actually had that injury, cross country, at 14, but she had a previous injury at 10 years old. A soccer ball hit her at point-blank range, and she had cognitive issues after that,” says Simkovich. “So, the problem with that is, if the cranial bone movement is not restored, the brain has a hard time returning to normal. A lot of acute symptoms go away but this sets up an issue called ‘Second Concussion Syndrome,’ where, once you’ve had one, subsequent concussions can have a more dire effect.”
That’s a problem uniquely found with brain injuries.
“You don’t have this phenomenon after any other traumatic injuries. Like, if somebody’s stabbed or they break their arm, you don’t have ‘second broken-arm syndrome’ or ‘second stabbing’ because, incidents, the first injury is dealt with properly,” says Simkovich.
When Caitlin’s not in Pittsburgh, she’s receiving regular chiropractic treatment from Dr. Christopher Gehrke in Greensboro.
“I’m making sure the brain is receiving correct signals from the body, the brain’s able to heal and function better,” says Gehrke.
The combination of Dr. Simkovich’s concussion treatments, Dr. Gehrke’s constant spinal adjustments to work with that, plus the nutrition and stem cell therapies they continue to do, Caitlin is showing great progress.
Hear more about those therapies in this edition of The Buckley Report.