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badge2Living with brain injury, whether it is caused by a traumatic injury, stroke, tumor, infection, or illness, is a lifelong journey for survivors, families, and caregivers. The Brain Injury Blog is about more than the care, treatment and rehabilitation of those who survive brain injury. It is about the journey of brain injury from the perspectives of those who live with it as well as those who provide care, treatment and support. Survival is just the first step in living with brain injury. Please join us in the journey of hope after brain injury.

My Issues Become the Paper’s Issues: Why I Write Now by Matthew Brown

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Writing got me in touch with my emotions after I came home from Iraq. Through writing about my life during my time in the Marine Corps and after, I started to get in touch with the deep down, raw emotions of the darkest corners of my mind. They truly scared me, and I really did not know what to do with them. With encouragement from my wife and some pushing from Melanie, I started to express these emotions on paper, in ways I never had before. The power of releasing those emotions was amazing. I started to feel the stress of the hard times in my life beginning to fade. They never will go away, because they are part of me, but they started to fade. I just started writing, and my writing became free form poetry.

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Writing to Heal: The Veterans Writing Project by Barbara Stahura

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Ron Capps manages the Veterans’ Writing Project which helps wounded warriors manage stress and cope with PTSD and TBI by writing and journaling as self-expression. “Either you control the memory or the memory controls you.” These words on a sign in Ron Capps’ office remind him not only of how he has learned to deal with his own past but also how his new work helps others. Fortunately, he learned from his doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that “the arts bring back the higher brain function.” Writing, his chosen art, helps him get control of his traumatic memories, unlike “therapy, medication, and whiskey,” which didn’t, he says

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A Grief Misunderstood by Carolyn Roy-Bornstein, MD

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My son Neil had been hit by a drunk teenaged hit-and-run driver while walking his girlfriend, Trista, home. He was taken to the local hospital where he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and quickly transferred to a Boston hospital’s intensive care unit. His girlfriend was not so “lucky.” She succumbed to massive head trauma and the next day was taken off life support.

I knew we had a long road ahead of us. Neil spent days in the ICU, months in physical rehab, and years in therapy and on anti-depressants. I grieved for everything Neil had lost: not only his girlfriend but also his memory, his concentration, his executive function, his sense of humor. What should have been the time of his life—senior prom, high school graduation, getting into the college of his choice—just turned out to be one long struggle.

But with my grief came guilt.

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Strategies to Rebuild Your Life after Brain Injury by David Grant

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Traumatic brain is like a giant eraser that removed parts of your life. David Grant explores how he developed strategies, that along with his personal stubborness, helped him reclaim his life. Strategies don’t remove the challenges but they can help improve the quality of your life – as his experience shows.

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From Unlucky, Unlovely, and Unlovable and Unlucky to Lucky, Resilient, and Loved by Christine Durham, PhD

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Christine Durham describes the excruciating journey of rediscovering her self after her brain injury. It starts with a piece of pie.

I found myself standing in the middle of the shopping mall with pie dripping from my hands, pie covering the front of my coat, and to my bewilderment, my daughter, Ann, who’d brought me on this shopping trip, ran away. I didn’t blame her. I’d run away from me too, if I could! I was so ashamed! I didn’t know what to do so I kept on trying to eat the pie. I’d been apprehensive about this outing to the shops, several months after I’d left the hospital after my car accident, but I hadn’t realized I’d be so totally confused and lost.

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Five Foundation Skills for the Resilient Caregiver by Janet M. Cromer, RN, MA, LMHC

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Caregiving for a family member who has a brain injury – whether it be a spouse, sibling, parent, or child – is stressful. Whether you are a new caregiver or an experienced caregiver, these five foundations skills can improve your health and resilience. Janet Cromer explains how to use self-compassion to care for yourself, how to counterbalance your stress response, and how to live mindfully. She explores the importance of connections with others for support and outlets to express your creativity. By using these skills, caregivers are better equipped to deal with the uncertainty and loss of control that is so often inherent in caregiving.

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Invisibility and Disability of Brain Injury by Cheryl Green

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You know how people sometimes refer to traumatic brain injury as a silent epidemic? And you could say disabilities from brain injury are invisible. No one can actually see your brain in action in everyday life. For those of us living with effects from brain injury in ourselves or someone close, we know it’s not so invisible or silent. Spend one day in my house, and you’ll observe me working from three calendars that don’t match and going up and down the stairs trying to figure out what I was looking for (a nap). It’s pretty visible. But sure, I try to hide some things in public because I’m people make fun of me and my newer quirks.

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Life goes on after TBI – Fourteen Years Later by William C. Jarvis, Ed.D.

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Living with brain injury or TBI is a long journey. Bill Jarvis shares the problems he has faced and his progress over 14 years since his injury. He encourages survivors to persevere and keep moving forward – no matter what physical, psychological, or cognitive challenges you face. While there are still things he can not do, his life has still better because he did not give up. He reminds you that giving up is an option but going on with life is a better choice.

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Are We Asking Too Much of Families? by Marilyn Lash, MSW

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Rosemary Rawlins’ book Learning by Accident is a very personal account of her husband Hugh’s brain injury that is unlike any other book I have read. What is so very special is how she brings the reader into her home as a wife and mother who is thrust into the world of caregiving. Unfortunately, her experience is not unique. What is unique is how she chronicles her husband’s journey from the brink of death through the long grind of surgeries, therapies, and complications into an uncertain future for their marriage, their children, his employment, and their future.

This book made me rethink what we ask of families in this world of managed care with shorter hospital stays. We give enormous challenges to families as they become the rehabilitation providers at home – yet too often, we do not give them the support, information or resources they need. This book will make you both admire what family caregivers do and also make you question why we do not help them more.

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What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know by Barbara Webster

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Survivors of brain injury are often given advice or direction on what to say – or not to say; how to do something – or not do it; when to do something – or when to stop. The advice can be well meaning and intended to offer help and support. But Barbara Webster flips the table and list the things that brain injury survivors want you to know. This list of brain injury wisdom carries valuable messages for caregivers, families, friends, colleagues and providers. Listen carefully!

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