A TBI Cognitive Memory Tool and Gift from My Mother! by Cheryle Sullivan, M.D.
by Cheryle Sullivan, M.D.
My mom was the inspiration for Brain Tips: Inspirational and Motivational Calendar. At age 61 she fell down the stairs in her home sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI), despite being active and healthy. She died shortly after the TBI. After her death I opened a perpetual calendar she’d previously given me. It contained daily inspirational quotes, something she and I both loved collecting. On my January birthday, I found her note next to the day’s quotation saying, “If we are not together today, know we love you.” That was special! A month or so later she had written next to a quote “This fits you so well. ” I paged through the calendar, finding notes here and there as quotes inspired her. It was an amazing gift that I used for years until the pages began to fall out. They are saved in a plastic bag with hopes of finding a way to resurrect the calendar.
Recovering Cognitively After Six Concussions
After my own 2002 TBI, my sixth concussion, I was left with residual cognitive challenges. As a family physician, medical office clinical manager, pilot, and the daughter of a mom who taught me how to be organized, I found I was using tools and strategies to make my life run smoother. Tools available to many others with TBI that they did not use. Because I was doing volunteer presentations on how to use these cognitive tools, to better function after brain injury for a state brain injury agency, this led to the idea to put together a calendar with daily inspirational quotes and brain tips to improve cognition.
I see several ways those with cognitive challenges, no matter the cause, can use Brain Tips. Besides providing daily inspirational messages and cognition tips, the calendar encourages daily journaling. Dr. James W. Pennebaker, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, says, “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experienced improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.” All individuals with TBI enjoy seeing improvement!
Using This Calendar and the Benefits to Cognitive Memory
Brain Tips will prove to be an important gift to those with cognitive challenges. Using the calendar will open up avenues for family and caregivers to participate in the recovery journey. They will be able to write encouraging messages throughout the calendar. Besides the daily inspirational quotes, personalized messages do help encourage someone dealing with challenges at the moment they are read and in the future when they are revisited. There is plenty of room on each page to write about how a tip may be useful, to note or plan how they can be included in a typical day, and how a quote or tip will serve to motivate each person who uses the calendar. My mom inspired me even after her death because of what she wrote. I hope this calendar may be equally motivating for those who use it.