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Six Months Later: Update on Charlisena

Charlisena Lubin was injured during Hurricane Matthew when large tree branches fell on her as she and her parents escaped their collapsing house on the west coast of the southern peninsula. Read about her arrival at St. Boniface Hospital here. 

Charlisena has made great strides both physically and socially since coming to the SBHF Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Center, which is financed by USAID. She explains that she has made friends there with some of the other SCI patients who are close to her age, and enjoys learning painting, gardening, and jewelry making—some of the crafts and skills that SCI participants learn as part of the program to help them reintegrate back into their home communities.

Charlisena at PT

Photo courtesy of Jay Farbman

Recovering from a life-changing spinal cord injury and facing returning to your hometown in a wheelchair is a daunting task for anyone, and especially a for a fifteen-year-old girl. "She says she won't use her wheelchair when she goes back home," Physical Therapist Sophia Laine explains, "she is the only one in her town who uses a wheelchair, and she doesn't want to stand out like that. She thinks it will be too embarrassing." Charlisena has been talking with the SCI program social workers and peer counselors about her fears about standing out. Peer counselors are other people living with spinal cord injuries who mentor newly-injured participants while they are at the SCI center and after they return home, and their perspectives are often invaluable in helping participants understand how their lives can go on after catastrophic injuries.

Charlisena stading with braces

Charlisena works with PT Sophia Laine in the physical therapy center at SBHF.

Charlisena is so smart and also anxious about how her life will be now. She has made a lot of progress, and now the next big step will be reintegrating with her life back at home.

Sophia Laine, SBHF Physical Therapist

To support the SCI program, and patients like Charlisena, please visit