Vegas shooting survivor continues remarkable recovery five years later

Jovanna Calzadillas, pictured with her family, continues to make a remarkable recovery at Barrow Neurological Institute after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head during the nation's deadliest mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in 2017.
PHOENIX, Sept. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Following years of neurorehabilitation at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Jovanna Calzadillas, 35, has relearned to walk, talk and perform independent daily tasks never thought possible in the days following the shooting.

As the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the country's deadliest mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Calzadillas continues to make significant improvements in her recovery.

"I just recently stopped using my wheelchair," says Jovanna. "My speech and cognition have greatly improved, and I can be a hands-on mom and wife. I feel so fortunate and blessed."

Jovanna's brain was so critically injured that Las Vegas doctors didn't expect her to survive and suggested removing her from life support. Jovanna's husband, Frank Calzadillas, however, noticed small responses from his wife and asked to keep her on life support.

Jovanna was flown to Phoenix for care at Select Specialty Hospital, a long-term care facility that works closely with physicians from the world-renowned Barrow Neurological Institute. Christina Kwasnica, MD, medical director of Barrow's Neuro Rehabilitation Center, was asked to assess Jovanna and noticed small signs of responsiveness.

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"Jovanna was shot on the left side of her brain which is the side that processes language, so I knew she wouldn't be able to comprehend language to follow commands but her eyes were open and she was able to track in a very small way with her eyes. This told me that she was unresponsive because of a language deficit, not because of the severity of her injury. She was not dying," said Dr. Kwasnica.

Within weeks, Jovanna was responsive and undergoing inpatient neurorehabilitation at Barrow. She continued years of intensive neuro-rehabilitation at Barrow's Center for Transitional Neuro-Rehabilitation (CTN) where she continued to significantly improve.

Gunshot wounds to the head are among the most difficult brain injuries to treat. Fifty percent of these injuries are fatal and patients who survive often have prolonged and difficult recoveries. Dr. Kwasnica calls Jovanna's recovery 'remarkable'.

Jovanna, who said during a press conference at Barrow in 2018, "I am not going to live my life in fear because of what happened to me," has held true to her words.

"I've been given a second chance of life and I'm determined to keep working hard to continue improving."

SOURCE Barrow Neurological Institute
Filed Under: Business

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