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Survivors of acquired and traumatic brain injury share challenges and rewards of rebuilding their lives and futures. Learning how to live with a brain injury can be a long, stressful and slow process that involves rebuilding your life and reshaping your future. These blog articles by survivors share the challenges, frustrations, joys and rewards of finding hope and a new way of living. By moving forward toward what is possible rather than looking back at what has been lost, it is possible to bring meaning to your life.

What Exactly is a Brain Injury Conference? A vocabulary lesson

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It’s not what it sounds like…not where you go to be diagnosed with a brain injury. It’s a gathering of specially-trained folks; people in organizations who are valuable resources for individuals and families dealing with a serious head trauma and/or brain injury. And, no, it’s not boring; you do not need “medical jargon” as a second language! It’s a room filled with inviting booths where leaders in the brain injury community make available take-home materials and offer a sympathetic ear. There are break-out sessions featuring key-note speakers, usually experts in the field, who can speak from first-hand experience about the diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries.

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Where Are They Now?

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After we moved into our new quarters, we had to say goodbye to some old friends who were integral to our growth and the all-round upbeat atmosphere in the office. Briefly, here is an update of what they are currently doing:

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Positive View of Traumatic Brain Injury

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A traumatic brain injury changed the life of Terry Morgan. He went from feeling like a million dollars as pastor of a large church and leading a full active life and career to feeling worthless. The fall that resulted in his brain injury changed his entire life – and that of his family. But as a brain injury survivor, it also resulted in his reevaluating what’s important in life. He now see there is a positive side to brain injury once you survive the physical and emotional trauma and rebuild your life.

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Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation

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John Richards never expected to be a brain injury survivor. As a rehabilitation professional, president of a brain injury residential program, and Board of Directors member of the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire, he was a well known service provider and advocate for persons with acquired brain injuries. The day he was found unconscious next to his bicycle on the road changed all that.

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Special Dog Helps with Brain Injury and Disability

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What is a dog story doing in the Brain Injury Blog? Canine companions or dogs with special training to assist people with disabilities aren’t just for people who are blind.
Grace Peay tells the story of how her special dog, Ackerman, helped her regain her independence after her traumatic brain injury. Struggling with social isolation and depression in addition to her physical challenges after her brain injury, acquiring a canine companion required a lengthy application and training process.

The result is a loving companion, guide and assistant who helps her with the daily challenges of living with a brain injury. Ackerman is an amazing canine companion who has enriched her life.

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Marriage after Brain Injury? It’s not easy

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“Who has those perfect relationships before a brain injury?” That’s the question of Beverly Bryant as she reflect on how her marriage with her husband and relationships with her children changed after her traumatic brain injury.

Moving on means grieving losses and letting go of one’s life prior to the brain injury. Recovery means allowing the survivor to take risks, make mistakes, and regain control while still giving help and support. Finding and maintaining relationships after brain injury is hard. But let’s be truthful. Building meaningful relationships is always hard.

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Normalcy after Brain Injury

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There was nothing mild about the effects of Diana Lund’s brain injury on her life. While she looked normal to others, her difficulty with memory, organization and problem solving meant she struggled to get through each day. Work became impossible. When the damage from a traumatic brain injury is not a visible disability, it is hard for friends, family and coworkers to recognize the cognitive losses.

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Colors for My Brain after My Brain Injury

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After the aneurysms ruptured in her brain, Mary Margaret Yeaton went home to new terrors as she forgot how to do the basic activities of getting through the day. After her brain injury simple tasks like showering, making a cup of coffee and taking medications seemed impossibly difficult. With a friend’s help she found using a color coding system gave her the cues and compensatory strategies she needed to help her memory and organization.

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My Not-So-Mild “Mild” Brain Injury

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Anne Forrest’s account of her diagnosis, treatment and recovery from a so called mild brain injury shows how her life was completely changed by the trauma to her brain in a minor car accident. The cognitive changes resulted not only in the loss of her career, but made it difficult for her to simply get through the day. Looking “normal” made it hard for others to recognize her disability and needs for compensatory strategies and accommodations.

She says, “Looking back, I can see that I was exhausting myself trying to return to work and my normal life. My brain thought I was the old me, and I did not know I could not succeed at my old life with my now-injured brain.”

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Stuff That Clutters Needs to be Stripped after Brain Injury by Kimberly Carnevale

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A traumatic brain injury forces Kimberly Carnevale to reevaluate what’s important in life as a survivor. Coping with the trauma of her brain injury, grieving her losses, losing her home – losing everything leads her to a new beginning as she rebuilds her life. Her daughter and her service dog become the priorities in her life as she clears her mind, builds a new path, and creates a new vision for living a full life as a survivor.

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