Recovering from a traumatic car accident is difficult enough. But for one patient, her challenges were made worse by malnutrition after the accident damaged her ability to eat and gain strength.
“I remember noticing signs of significant muscle and fat wasting right away,” says Shannon O’Dwyer, registered dietitian in the Acquired Brain Injury Program at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).
It was June 2019 when Maresa Cappeli, then 20, was driving from Windsor to her brother’s house in Ruthven – a small community outside of Leamington. Shortly into her journey, her car was hit head-on by an aggressive driver. Maresa, known as Mar to family and friends, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. Her jaw was broken in three places, she cracked a tooth, her ear was damaged, and her main facial nerve was severed.
She was rushed to hospital in Windsor, spent weeks in the intensive care unit (ICU), and an additional three months in the stroke unit before being transferred to the Regional Rehabilitation Centre at HHS to help in her recovery.
“In Windsor, she laid in bed for 23 hours a day on a feeding tube,” says Maresa’s mom, Rene Cappeli. “We – her family – noticed she was losing weight. She was usually around 112 pounds, but within three months immediately after the accident, her weight dropped to 93.”
After Maresa arrived at Hamilton Health Sciences, the staff noticed her body weakness.
“She had muscle wasting in her clavicle, her ribs, and cheekbones. She had been burning a lot of calories since the accident,” explains O’Dwyer. “And she was ‘NPO’– which means she couldn’t feed by mouth. Receiving enough nutrition had been difficult given feeds were interrupted for medical reasons throughout the day.”
[This article was published by Hamilton Health Sciences. To read the full story, please click here.]