Originally waking from brain surgery in 2006 with blinking as her only function, Bridget has come a long way to reaching where she is today.
Doctors feared Bridget would not be able to walk or use her arms again after suffering a brain injury more than seven years ago, but in a remarkable journey towards recovery she walked on stage to collect her Bachelor of Arts degree at her graduation ceremony at The University of Queensland.
Bridget Harrington developed a sinus infection and what was thought to be stomach flu while living in The Netherlands in 2005. Three days later she was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery to treat two abscesses on her brain.
She has since undergone 12 major operations and undertaken hundreds of hours of physiotherapy to reach where she is today with the original cause of her injury never fully discovered.
Bridget says the knowledge she gained about the brain and brain recovery from studying neuroscience towards her psychology major has been an enormous help.
“Looking back, now that I understand the nature of neuro-rehabilitation, I realise it isn’t just a matter of injury plus rehabilitation equals recovery. It’s injury, plus rehabilitation, plus time equals recovery,” she said.
“But the time frame is very variable. It might be two weeks before your next improvement or it might be two months. While day-to-day living is sometimes difficult, if I look at my progress from month to month, or even six monthly, it’s pretty remarkable how far I’ve come.”
She says she had always wanted to go to The University of Queensland to study a Bachelor of Arts since she was eight-years-old and even though both her parents work at the university, it wasn’t parental pressure.
“I was attracted to an Arts degree because of its general nature, and to have finally achieved that when I have changed so many other interests throughout my life, is really rewarding.
“I’m excited to be graduating as it means one chapter is closing and I’m moving on to the next. It’s important to keep moving forward, but I wasn’t sure where I’d be moving forward to,” Bridget says.
She mentions when she looks back she can see how far she has come from struggling to do two subjects each year in high school to making the Dean’s list for high achievement at university.