Success Stories

Doctors didn’t think Emma would walk again, now she runs and boxes at Goodwill NeuroRehab

Emma boxes with her Physical Therapist, Kevin at Goodwill NeuroRehab in Scarborough.

In the summer of 2021, Emma Robbins got into a car accident. Doctors were unsure if Emma would survive. She drove her car off the road, and suffered from a traumatic brain injury on impact that she is still recovering from today. Since she was a teenager, Emma battled with drug and alcohol abuse and received treatment a few times. She was under the influence when she got into her car accident, injuring her brain. Now in her twenties, Emma shows incredible progress and is an advocate for recovery.

“So many blessing have come out of such horrific events,” Deb, Emma’s mom says.

Emma’s accident has brought her family close, often volunteering and going on hikes together.

The accident left Emma unable to walk, speak or sit up in bed. The injuries they could see were a few broken ribs and a sternal fracture. Otherwise, her injury completely resided in her brain.

After her accident, it took Emma six weeks in the hospital and lots of determination to relearn how to walk. Today, Emma can walk, box and even run during her physical therapy at Goodwill NeuroRehab in Scarborough. Emma says she hates exercising, but is all smiles while punching her physical therapist, Kevin’s, boxing gloves.

Emma says “punching Kevin” and healthy cooking class are usually her favorite things to do during the week.

“Sometimes we get to make cake for cooking class. I love cake and anything with sprinkles,” she says.

Emma also loves attending CSI group, which involves clients gathering to solve a murder mystery in a fun classroom setting. She is constantly contributing to the discussion, and has in-depth notes about who she thinks may be a suspect in the case. The class helps with memory, problem solving, teamwork and other cognitive thinking skills that usually need strengthening after a traumatic brain injury. Emma also participates in crosswords during lunch, that help her make connections with her memory and share parts of her life before her accident. Like, that she used to be a soccer goalie and her favorite job was working at Five Guys because she got free food.

Emma can be quiet at times and does not speak much, but loves to talk about thriller movies like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. When asked what her favorite movies were she answered with “the good ones”. Her memory is her biggest barrier at the moment. Emma cannot remember a year or two before the accident and is missing big chunks. She’s also working on her balance and physical ability. She boxes and does weighted obstacle courses to regain her balance and stamina.

Riding To the Top is also one of Emma’s favorite parts of her recovery, which is a program in Maine that allows participants to ride and walk horses. Emma really loves animals, so any opportunity to be around them has brought positivity to her recovery – even if it means volunteering to muck out the stalls at a local barn.

Emma’s advice to anyone with a brain injury is “Just keep going and keep working. It’s sometimes difficult, but it’s worth it”.

March is Brain Injury Awareness month. We are taking this time to recognize and support individuals with an acquired brain injury, and highlight how they are getting back to their lives. For more information on our NeuroRehab programs in Maine, visit

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