Success Stories

Carina, speech therapist, helps people after a brain injury

Woman smiling at the camera

“Now that’s a cool job!” Carina Ream thought as she was reading an article about a speech therapist who helps actors on their accents for movies. She was student at the University of New Hampshire and was considering how to combine her love of English and science into a career. Ultimately, this led her to graduate school to become a speech language pathologist at Goodwill Northern New England’s NeuroRehab clinic in Lewiston, Maine.

Goodwill’s NeuroRehabilitation clinics offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy to help people get back to their lives after a brain injury.

Carina helps people with their speech and communication skills. Speech is often affected after an accident, a concussion, a stroke or other brain injury. A native of Lewiston, Maine, Carina has worked at Goodwill NeuroRehab for 12 years.

 “The wonderful thing about the job is the great variability and the kinds of treatments that I do,” Carina said about her job. From group therapy to one-on-one speech therapy services, helping each person with their speech and communication skills is highly individualized. 

Carina takes her time to understand what each of her patients need. Together they plan activities like a memory match card game, math problems, or how to alphabetize. Or they might focus on communication strategies and being able to put sentences together. Her work makes a difference in strengthening a client’s ability to make decisions that affect everyday life.

Speech therapy helps after a brain injury

In one situation, a patient with aphasia, a disorder that affects communication, had difficulty explaining to her family what she needed at the grocery store. Carina made a grocery list that looked like a picture book. Using this tool, the patient can point to the items she needs and her family understands. Importantly, it was helpful for the patient to have independence, while her family could understand her desires.

Sometimes she treats patients who have a workplace injury. She said that helping people return to work is always rewarding and it’s a core to Goodwill’s mission. Brain injuries often affect people’s organization, communication, or planning skills. Carina and the healthcare team help rebuild those skills so clients can return to work. Equally important, if that role isn’t a good fit anymore, they work with Goodwill’s Vocational Rehab staff to find something that does fit the client’s skills and dreams.

Goodwill NeuroRehab clinics work with all ages, so when young students come in for services, Carina gets them the help to return to the classroom. It could be something like one-on-one aides or someone to take notes in class. No matter what they need, Carina said it is always rewarding to see them get back in school.

Carina helped one young man, who acquired a brain injury in high school. He had faced serious challenges that made school very difficult. He worried he would not graduate. Carina taught him strategies for taking class notes as a memory aid. They practiced outlining essays he needed to write. They scheduled his day to allow for homework, extra-curricular activities, and rest breaks. Collaborating with him, his family, and the school they determined what he needed to succeed. He persisted and graduated high school. While he no longer needs services at Goodwill, Carina heard from his family that he was in his third year of college, getting great grades. Moreover, he was so happy with the therapy he received at Goodwill, he decided to go into the medical field.

“It is heartwarming to hear successes after someone’s been working so hard to find something they enjoy and are able to maintain employment or use the skills that they learned here,” Carina said.

Carina is a recipient of Goodwill NNE’s 2022 Employee of the Year award.

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