Tammy’s Story

Extraordinary Perspective

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Before the accident, Tammy Jensen’s typical day was a busy, noisy, go-get-’em affair. The mother of two zipped back and forth from Buhl to Duluth, Minnesota for work, where she saw orthodontics patients each day.

Besides being busy raising her children and traveling to and from her job, Tammy sang in the community choir, volunteered for a youth program and organized massive church events. Then, suddenly, everything slowed down and spun around—a feeling that continued long after the deer jumped out in front of her car on that fateful summer day on Highway 53.

“After Polinsky, the light turned back on and showed me there was hope.”


“Life has not been the same since. It’s been a long slow heal since the concussion,” Tammy says.

She followed all the recommendations: resting for days in the dark, hot and cold packs, no screen time. But the nausea, buzzing and sirens in her head wouldn’t stop. And despite trying to do work and life as she’d always known, her sensory system wouldn’t let her. Five weeks after the car crash, she was referred to Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center. And the healing began.

“Polinsky staff helped me identify what was wrong, and what I could do,” she says. “They taught me to say ‘if,’ not ‘when,’ and gave me strategies to work in the now. They taught me that if it all doesn’t come back, I can be prepared, which was so helpful.”

The insights gained from physical, occupational and speech therapy gave her vital coping mechanisms—for balance, noise, speaking and other stimuli. Tammy learned that brain injuries can disrupt the way you process language; whispering while reading helped her remember the text. She learned her sense of “floating on a boat” wasn’t crazy, nor was the helmet-like heaviness on her head. If her eyes felt drunk, tape on her eyeglasses grounded her.

“After Polinsky, the light turned back on and showed me there was hope,” she says. “They’re excellent. I credit my recovery to being there.”

Tammy says she’s back to 75 percent of her old self. There’s more time to take walks and explore her crafty, artistic side. She’s taking things slower, because she still gets overwhelmed easily. As a fast-talking multitasker, it’s been a challenging adjustment. Yet she’s grateful for the healing that has occurred, for the support of family and friends, and for the gift of awareness. 

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