Iowa teen using art therapy to recover from a brain injury

Iowa News

ANKENY, Iowa — For the past nine months, Northeast Iowa teen Kason Judisch has been at On With Life rehab center recovering from a traumatic brain injury. His therapy involves some creativity.

Coloring a music note seems fitting for Kason. The 19-year-old has always been an artist, spending his school years in show choir, band, and speech. But a day after his high school graduation in May of 2020, he was involved in a car accident that left him unable to walk and unable to speak.

“Looking back from where we are now, seeing him sitting here and smiling,” Kelli Judisch, Kason’s mom, reflected, “It’s what I would consider a miracle.”

Kason’s mom Kelli has been by his side since they arrived at On With Life nine months ago. Since then Kason has made big strides relearning how to walk, live, and communicate. A big part of his communication journey included art therapy.

“Art is one of those rare opportunities where you can take a piece of paper and share your feelings, share your thoughts, and even have some control over your world,” Jean Shelton, CEO at On With Life, said. 

Shelton noticed how engaged Kason was in art class. So much so, they began incorporating it in his therapy.

On With Life Occupational Therapist Samantha Williams wrote symptoms down on a piece of paper. Kason used different colors to draw and reveal what was happening in his mind and body.

“I think that was the first time we had really known exactly you know you’re able to tell us what you were feeling and where,” Williams explains to Kason, “and just was another good tool to kind of help expand your communication to us and know how you were feeling.”

Whether it’s making a color choice or working on the weaker side of his body, Kelli notices the improvements in her son.

“Art therapy is great as a creative expression, but it’s getting results,” Kelli said, “and you know selfishly as a mom, that’s what I want too.”

Kason’s next chapter of life is a blank canvas ready to be created. What that will look like depends on him.

“There’s a sign up or a mural up in the building that says ‘I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.’ And that’s our motto,” Kelli explained.

Kason is being discharged from On With Life on Friday, March 5. Kelli said the plan is to go back home to Northeast Iowa where their family is, and where Kason’s therapy will continue.

You can follow Kason’s journey on Facebook by following the page #fightKasonfight

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Local News

More Local News