Kara Brouhard was five years old when she was hit in the head by an out of control skier which shattered her skull. She had multiple brain surgeries and was in a coma for for two months. Because of this severe traumatic brain injury she was left with many challenges. She has some cognitive challenges which include inability to tell time, manage money and minimal reading skills. She is legally blind and has left sided paralysis. But, as Kara says… “I have abilities, not disabilities!”
Because of her injury, the future for Kara and her family was scary and unknown. But because of Kara’s desire to be independent, Kara, and her family were able to create a system where she could live independently and on her own.
Kara currently resides in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. She graduated from Glenwood Springs High School. After school, attended the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind in Colorado Springs in a transition program. She loved the independence of living in a dorm! She completed the post high school transition program at age 22. Her family then started to work on ways that she could be independent and self-sufficient and have a home she could call her own. Kara always made it clear that she wanted her own life and did not want to live in a group home. Because her TBI (Tramatic Brain Injury) occurred at an early age she was eligible for services from the Community Center board. (Mountain Valley Developmental Services).
Kara had to prove that she was motivated and able to live on her own. So, Alice and Jim (parents) purchased a home in Glenwood one year before she would move in. They worked consistently with her on what exactly her schedule entails and how they could arrange it so to have her accomplishing tasks on her own. They came up with a system using technology. Their original software and PC was very expensive and could be difficult to use. Eventually, after a year of practicing at home, they were all confident that she was ready. So, in 2007, Kara moved into her own house. As Kara progressed, so did technology. Since 2012, they have used the most popular technology today, the iPad!
Because of her brain injury and the inability to manage time on her own she uses her iPad for direction. The iPad is preprogrammed to give her commands throughout the day in her own voice. For example, it tells her when to wake up and reminds her to do daily chores. The iPad also assist her with pictures for more daunting tasks like cooking and food preparation. All of this is done with two apps! The one that is used for her timed voice prompts was $.99! The app that is set up with picture and audio tasks for cooking and household chores cost $18.99!
This was not the only piece to the puzzle though. She also needed daily assistance. In order for Kara to live alone and be an active member in the community, she needs assistance from others. Her daily assistance is funded by a program called Consumer Directed Attendance Support System (CDASS) which is available through the Colorado Medicaid: Brain Injury Waiver. CDASS is a state-funded program that allows individuals, such as Kara, to hire, fire and manage there own support services while providing the financial resources to do so. Kara has support in her home for 4-9 hours a day. Besides CDASS and Medicaid, Kara does not use any other Federal, State or Government programs. The long term cost for Kara using CDASS will be far lower than traditional care…(A group home)
Because of her “never say never attitude,” she is able to contribute to her community. This is very important to Kara. She firmly believes in being a productive part of society. She is very famous for baking cookies for the Glenwood Springs Fire Department and the Police Department, and for donating blood at Valley View Hospital. On top of all of that, Kara is the proud owner of her own business, “Kara’s Krunchies”, unique trail mix!
Kara, and her family, did not take the traditional route, but one they created themselves. This was accomplished through pure determination and the understanding that there are options. Family, community, friends and government assistance was needed for her independence and to live on her own.