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Photo credit: Michael Betts, The Press Republican
From -- published January 28, 2008 -- Vicki Chaffee, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in 2002, has helped a young kitten that has the same kind of injury survive, but Chaffee says the kitten has given her inspiration.

PLATTSBURGH, NY -- Dale Chaffee rolled the tiny plastic ball along the kitchen floor.

The small black cat pounced on it, striking it with her paw and renewing the chase when it ricocheted against the nearby wall.

But this cat, named Rosa, moved differently from most.

She swayed on her legs, as if they didn't have the strength to hold her body, and at times she would stumble and lose her balance, only to rise quickly and continue her never-ending effort to corral the tiny ball.

Rosa is about a year old, ... [and] she suffers from traumatic brain injury, a condition her owner knows only too well.


"One day, this little black kitty came to me, no more than four weeks old," said Dale's wife, Vicki Chaffee, who is a victim of traumatic brain injury. "She was so tiny and so fragile. She had to be bottle fed."

Vicki brought the animal to the vet's office, where it was determined that the kitten had suffered the debilitating injury sometime during those first four weeks of life.


Vicki's own story started just under six years ago, in April 2002, when a car accident changed her life in an instant.

Because of the brain injury she suffered, she doesn't remember a lot about the accident, but the year that followed -- when she sought answers for the mental and physical changes she was experiencing -- turned her life into a nightmare.


Vicki had undergone several tests -- MRIs, CAT scans -- but doctors did not find any specific cause for her problems.

"We were told nothing was wrong," Dale said, as Vicki fought back tears from the memory of those months of not knowing.

Finally, a friend mentioned the possibility of a brain injury and suggested Vicki go to the Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Plattsburgh State. There, the brain injury that was robbing her of her past existence was verified.

"In some cases, brain injury is clear cut, but then there are others that are not as easily diagnosed," said Melissa Mose from the Traumatic Brain Injury Center. "It's a silent epidemic that often remains hidden."


The Chaffees named their furry friend after the African-American civil-rights activist who, in 1955, refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white passenger.

"Rosa (the activist) refused to give up, and this kitty has done the same thing," Vicki said.

The cat will sometimes prop herself against the wall as she walks from one area to another. Vicki noticed that technique and uses it herself when she's tired but wants to move from one room to another.

Read entire article.

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Thank you so much for sharing this story, I too have a TBI from an auto accident on the freeway in 2002. My heart goes out to this dear heart and her beloved kitty. I've never heard of an animal with a TBI, and wondered if it was possible, now I know.
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