Ashleigh Justice Wakes Up And Isn’t Prepared For Her New Life

Editor’s Note: As a 15-year-old new driver, Ashleigh Justice of Phoenix, Arizona, was driving her family vehicle when tragedy struck and changed her life forever. Part 2 of a 5 part series.

Ashleigh Justice had a hard time accepting what her injury did to her body. She didn't give up, and her short term memory and personality eventually returned.

Ashleigh Justice had a hard time accepting what her injury did to her body. She didn't give up, and her short term memory and personality eventually returned.

The 10 days I spent in intensive care after my accident were the worst 10 days of my life. I felt like I was in a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. The doctors had put me in an induced coma for 3 days to reduce the brain swelling. I remember the day the surgeons brought me out of the coma. I had to track my surgeon’s finger with my eyes as the surgeon moved it. The surgeons also asked me questions, and I was to blink once for no and twice for yes. I had doctors and students all around me, as I began to come out of my coma, who were all looking at me. I remember feeling as though I only existed and had no thoughts and no memory. While I was in the coma, the doctors did a spinal fusion on my neck, took a piece of bone from my hip and used it to replace a shattered vertebra and put titanium rods and plates in my back.

When I woke up, I remember being really dizzy and very sick. If my mother and my sister tried to take me around the hospital in a reclining wheelchair, I became very nauseated. The doctors diagnosed me with axonal shear injury. During the accident, my brain hit my skull, creating problems with my short term memory and affecting my ability to talk. Sometimes I knew the words I wanted to say, but I couldn’t say them. Not being able to say the words I wanted to caused me to be very frustrated, so I just quit talking.  However, I gradually felt more like myself.  A year passed before my short term memory returned.

About Ashleigh Justice
As a 10-year veteran of SCI and TBI,  Ashleigh has lived with her injuries (the result of a rollover car accident) since she was 15 and has overcome many challenges, including most recently, becoming a parent. She has spent many years mentoring other people with SCI and has discovered that with the right attitude and the right amount of knowledge, nothing is impossible. Today, Ashleigh writes a blog for brain and spinal cord injured individuals (quadriplegia mainly) called The QuadFiles, sponsored by AdvisaCare.  It’s a compilation of resources, stories and motivations – see for details. 

Next: Quadriplegic Ashleigh Justice Wants To Be Normal Again

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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