By Brandon HENSLEY
A local woman who suffered brain trauma earlier this year appears to be progressing. Scarantino’s Italian Inn held a fundraiser on Sept. 23 for Karla Bernabel, who was involved in a motorcycle accident in January while on her way to work, leaving her in a coma for weeks.
Since she woke from the coma, therapy has been long and hard. Bernabel, 25, is still not speaking, but her close friend Kt Nagao said she’s now doing much better. Bernabel can hold objects and take them from people if she is asked. She also gives and receives high-fives.
Nagao said doctors are excited for her progress.
“Everything’s been purposeful,” Nagao said. “If you tell her not to touch something, she won’t touch it. If you tell her to look away, she’ll look wherever you’re asking her to look.”
Bernabel has been moved from a facility in Chatsworth to Sun Valley. She takes an ambulance to a hospital for doctors’ appointments, which Nagao said is a tiring process for Bernabel.
A therapist from Cal State Northridge visited recently and said Bernabel’s progress has jumped two levels on the Rancho Los Amigos scale, which measures a person’s progression in overcoming their brain injury. Bernabel went from level three to level five. There are eight to 10 levels, depending if doctors go by the revised scale.
On the day of the fundraiser, Nagao visited Bernabel and noticed she was eyeing her shirt with a dirty look. Nagao wondered why that was the case, and then realized it was Bernabel’s shirt. Nagao asked her if that was why she was staring, and Bernabel rolled her eyes.
Family and friends hope Bernabel continues to progress, but the time table for recovery from brain injuries is hard to predict.
“They still don’t know, but they’re just really happy with what she’s doing. It’s just one of those things you can’t predict,” Nagao said.
For more information on Karla Bernabel, visit the Facebook page “Fighting for Karla.” You can donate to her medical fund by visiting www.gofundme.com/karlabernabel.