Brain injury survivor graduates medical school, hopes to specialize in treating brain injuries

April 1, 2013 5:11:41 PM PDT
A tragic crash turned a college student's life in a new direction.

Kara Beatty had a major brain injury, but it inspired her to go to medical school. Now, Dr. Beatty wants to specialize in treating brain injury patients.

Beatty still drags her left foot when she gets tired. Sometimes her left hand doesn't work. But she survived when her car was T-boned by a pickup that ran a red light.

"In that instant, my entire life was changed," Beatty said.

She suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken pelvis and she was unable to speak or walk, but Beatty says that accident changed her life in a good way.

"I'm better because of this, and that's what I did with my brain injury," she said. "The person that ran a red light, I could look at that and curse at him and be very angry, but I'm not going to do that. This has made me into a better person."

The college sophomore was left reading at a fourth grade level. She had intensive rehab at Memorial Hermann's TIRR, which inspired her sister, Julie, to become a therapist. And Beatty decided to go to medical school, despite memory problems and severe headaches from her brain injury.

"I probably am not as smart as I was before the brain injury, I can tell you," she said. "I don't think I am as smart as I used to be but I'm more determined than I've ever been."

She got into medical school, and though it took her longer to study, she graduated.

"I think she will be able to accomplish anything she wants to and has already shown that," Beatty's husband, Collin, said.

Dr. Beatty is starting her residency and hopes to be one of the first doctors in the U.S. to be certified in Brain Injury Medicine, using both medicine and her experience to give her patients hope.

Beatty tells brain injury patients the most important thing is not to give up on your dreams, but understand it may take more time to get there.

"I've been through this, too, and I can tell you there is a light at the end of the tunnel," she said. "There is a way to get through it."

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