The term “traumatic brain injury” wasn’t something I ever thought too much about pre-accident. It was something that happened to people in stories in the news, it was something that happened to people in the movies. It never occurred that it was something that could happen to me. And then it did. ----
We want to introduce a Survivor story and a Caregiver story. The battle for survival and quality of life continues with these two powerful stories.
Debbie Webb – “The year was 1990, I was practicing barrel racing and the horse I was riding slipped onto her side. Upon impact with the ground, I was immediately unconscious.” Check out her story here:
Kris Ruckle-Mahon – “My role went from being a parent to a caregiver on April 11, 2007, something I was not financially prepared for. I was fortunate though, to have a great work and family support system to help us through it.” Check out her story here:
Ya’ll have seen and heard me talk about Auto no-fault a lot over the years. You have heard how I have embraced self-advocacy on my own behalf and encouraging such with others as well.
Some changes were made to the Michigan Auto No-Fault laws that have hurt the protective measures that No-Fault owes its recipients. It has been disastrous and is literally costing lives.
Check out C-Pan (Coalition Protecting Auto No-fault) and Michigan Auto Law for more information and the various changes.
However, not all HOPE is lost just yet.
Here’s an idea to bring awareness to Michigan No-Fault Laws/Changes, an invitation to all Senators, lawmakers, and our Governor to “Have A Heart”.
Each legislator who has voting power on the No-Fault issue, spend one week. Just one…..with a catastrophically injured patient and their family. They have to be a caregiver for that week, working with family or nurse supervising direct care..
Then let’s see how they think at the end. I think before pushing paper and making decisions from behind a desk that impacts so many lives….they should be required to live it in some way and make it work by their own effort and examine what they are expecting (56 hours limit being suggested for example) before making laws for it.
It’s easy to judge if you aren’t living it every moment of every day.
We could call it OPERATION: “Have A Heart”
Here are suggested parameters:
Live with family in their home for 7 days. 24/7 (live there, sleep there, be available all 24 hours – regardless of activity involved in at the time)
Provide direct care to patient along with caregiver (regular or fill-incaregiver, or at direction of family)
No personal tablets, laptop computers, other electronic devices allowed to be brought into home. No use of phones during care time.
No refusing to do any care needed (due to discomfort, grossness, lack of knowledge, or fear of messing up).
No mistreatment, verbal abuse, or physical abuse of patient or family.
No help from anyone outside of what family has immediate access to without you there (no assistants, runners, interns, etc)
No buying or purchasing anything for yourself (including food or drinks) or the family until after 7 days are completed. They eat and drink what family does on their budget.
You may be asking yourself how you can help. How can you make an impact to continue to bring awareness and support self-advocacy? How can you become a HOPEster?
Maybe you don’t have a Brain Injury and have never experienced a Polytrauma. Maybe you came upon this Website while searching for something else. Perhaps you are curious about the content, or know someone who has had a Concussion, Brain Injury or a disability.
Whether you are here accidentally or purposefully we hope you have found information and resources in this Site that have been helpful, useful, or educational to you. If this page is your first stop – please explore the rest of our pages as we offer a lot of value for your visit. We provide all these services for FREE to the community at large.
Maybe you are a survivor, a caregiver, a healthcare provider who understands all to well the content here and could even add to the stories here with your own.
If you would like to offer HOPE (Help One Person Excel) by:
Giving a gift to keep this site running and helping its services remain FREE
Help us continue to bring awareness; or just support the cause
Check out the story about a mom fighting for the life and proper care of her daughter who was hit by a car January 2021.
When doctors and therapists don’t have faith, sometimes a family’s love and prayers can work miracles.
Michelle Patnesky, the mom of 17 year old Hailee, takes us on a journey with her family as they traverse the system to advocate for their daughter who has sustained a severe brain injury and remains in the hospital.
Vera Quijano, a dance and yoga Instructor, who is now dancing to the beat of a different drum after sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury after surviving a vehicle accident, where she was hit by a drunk driver.
I just want to say to all you Mothers’s, Step-mothers, Foster Mom’s, and Guardians fulfilling a role as a “mother” figure…..
I see you.
I see your love, your sacrifice, your devotion, your fierce advocacy, your struggle, your effort, your laughter, your tears, your disappointment, your celebrations, your resentment, your anger, your amazement, your exhaustion, your selflessness, and your commitment.
I just want to say to all you Mother’s, Step-mothers, Foster Mom’s, and Guardians fulfilling a role as a “mother” figure….
I hear you.
I hear your cheers, your jeers, your concerns, your focused topics, your questions, your accolades, your encouragements, your motivational speeches, your yelling, your frustration, your grief, your joy, your coaching, your mediation, your compassion, and your ongoing effort at communication.
I just want to say to all you Mother’s, Step-mothers, Foster Mom’s, and Guardians fulfilling a role as a “mother” figure….
Just Be You.
Be the best version of yourself each day, be that disheveled mess, be that organized detailed version of yourself, be true to your values, be that parent that can admit their mistakes, be that parent that lives by example, be a stay at home parent, be a working parent, be a disabled parent, be a retired parent, be scattered, be focused, be hard to understand, be easy to get along with, be the parent that lacks humor, or be the parent that can make your child laugh. Just be YOU.
You are who your child(ren) will remember long after they have grown and you are their influencers for good or evil, love or hate, bravery or fear, joy or sadness, loved or abandoned, condemned or celebrated. You are the beginning of their imprint on the world.
Thank you for being just who you are and adding to the fabric of our world with your ability to be THAT MOTHER.
Although the vast majority of people recover after a concussion (guess what? a concussion IS a brain injury)…….how quickly they improve, rehabilitate, and return to their daily activities depends on many factors. These factors include how severe their concussion was, their age, how healthy they were before the concussion, how they take care of themselves after the injury, and the resources provided to them regarding their aftercare/recovery process (this means being provided with proper directions, follow up, and educational information by good providers who know what they are doing).
Okay, we say “good providers”. I do want to say that brain science is changing and evolving on a daily basis. It may not be possible for your provider to know all the latest and greatest developments regarding brain injury recovery, so don’t be too hard on them. It is also difficult for the rehabilitation team of providers to know exactly how long a recovery will take, especially at the beginning. This is why it is called “practicing medicine” – not everything is certain or known. The more you know, the more you realize that once you’ve seen one brain injury you’ve seen one brain injury. This means that all brain injuries, and healing abilities from those brain injuries are different (even if they share similar symptomology). A “good provider” would be someone who advocates for their patient, or defers their patient to a provider with specialized training, or who acts as an active listener and guide through the recovery process (even if that means being willing to learn about new scientific breakthroughs and keeping up on their skills, and knowledge base around what they are treating you for). Is that clear as mud? LOL
Do not compare your concussion (brain injury) symptoms and recovery to that of someone else or even to any previous concussions you may have sustained. Each persons injury is different, and the symptoms of each brain injury(even when happening to the same person) may be different and require a different rehabilitation time as well.
It has been established time and time again that recovery is usually fastest in the early weeks and months after brain injury. In the first few weeks after a brain injury, swelling, bleeding or changes in brain chemistry and physiological aspects of the brain are often affected, and affect the function of healthy brain tissue. The fastest improvement usually happens in about the first six months after injury. During this time, the injured person will likely show a vast array of improvement and may even seem steadily be getting better. The person continues to improve between six months and two years after injury, but this varies greatly for different people and may not happen as fast as the first six months. It is important to note though that while improvements slow down substantially after two years….additional healing and progress may still occur many years after injury. Also the opposite is true as well. A person who appears to be recovered or rehabilitated may not experience affects or manifestation of their injury until years later.
There are some poignant things to keep in mind regarding recovery from a brain injury.
If you suffered from anxiety or depression before your head injury, it may make it harder to adjust to the symptoms of a concussion (brain injury)
If you already had a medical condition at the time of your concussion (such as chronic headaches or chronic pain), it may take longer for you to recover
Receiving another concussion before the brain has healed can result in brain swelling, exacerbated symptoms, permanent brain damage, coma, or death – especially in our youth. You should therefore avoid activities that could cause you to jolt, bump, hurt, or cause a blow to be made to your head.
If you are a woman (female) it may take you longer to recover and you may have more severe symptoms that your male counterparts.
Numerous Concussions (brain injuries) over time may cause you to have ongoing serious long-term problems, including chronic memory challenges, difficulty with concentration, persistent headaches, and occasionally, diminished fine motor/physical skills (such as keeping the ability to stay balanced or walk in a straight line).
After reading all this, the question presents itself as,
“Great! Then what things CAN I do to improve my rehabilitation process?”
After all, that’s why you are here to see what that burning question will reveal, right?!?!
1. Vision Testing –
I don’t mean like your typical eye doctor or optometrist/ophthalmologist that you would see to get your vision tested for glasses. or your glasses prescription adjusted. They don’t have the specialized training for the help you may need. I am talking about seeing a Neuro-Ophthalmologist/Optometrist (yes there is a difference). A Neuro Optometrist is trained to diagnose and treat neurological conditions that negatively impact the visual system. A Neuro-Ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment/rehabilitation of neurological conditions adversely affecting the visual system and specializes in neurology AND ophthalmology.
They specialize in visual problems that relate to the nervous system (brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and diabetic neuropathy). They help patients rehabilitate their vision with specific visual exercises/eye-training exercises that rewire the brain (neuroplasticity). These exercises can be done in the office during a scheduled appointment or at home with the aim being to reduce symptoms and promote visual recovery. These exercises are designed to improve balance, gait, visual information processing, cognitive skills, visual memory, motor skills, double vision, tracking/scanning problems, inability to focus, loss of central vison, strabismus (eye turning), convergence insufficiency, visual field loss, issues with depth perception, etc.
They may also, for some patients, prescribe specific optical lenses called prisms (prism glasses)
The treatment from this may last weeks, months, and for some patients – years.
Hearing issues are often overlooked in polytrauma patients because of other visible life threatening injuries that often take medical precedence/priority. However, hearing loss may mask or confuse getting a correct diagnosis for other injuries. Some patients have been diagnosed as being unresponsive or uncooperative when it was their hearing that was affected. Issues with the ear can result in problems related to balance, hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo ( the most common vertigo being benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), chronic nausea, and headaches. While some of these changes are reversible, others are not. This is the importance of getting auditory testing completed as soon as possible after a head injury.
Dizziness is believed to occur in 40-60% of people with traumatic brain injuries. The ear is also the organ that is the most susceptible to blast exposures. The extent of ear damage from a blast depends on a multitude of factors (size of blast, environment, distance from blast, orientation of ear canal to the blast, open or closed area during blast). The most common injury from a blast is a ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane). There are also cases of traumatically induced Meniere’s Disease.
Hearing loss as a result of brain injury causes damage to the inner ear or because there is damage to the brain that produces sound. Auditory problems could be mistake for signs of cognitive deficits attributed directly to a brain injury. Hearing loss also exacerbate the social, emotional, and cognitive affects of the brain injury. It is possible to have cognitive affects related to brain injury AND loss of hearing at the same time.
Auditory symptoms may include difficulty understanding speech, especially when there is background noise; difficulty locating sounds (knowing where the sounds are coming from); hyperacusis (extreme sensitivity to sounds); tinnitus (ringing in the ears with no external source of the sound); conductive or sensorineural hearing loss ( damage either to the tiny hair cells in your inner ear – known as stereocilia, or to the nerve pathways that lead from your inner ear to the brain); distorted hearing, etc.
3. Speech Therapy –
Brain injuries can cause speech, language, thinking, and swallowing problems. Speech therapists treat all these conditions
Types of issues treated are dysarthria (when the muscles you use for speech are weak or you have difficulty controlling them causing slurred or slowed speech that can be difficult to understand), aphasia (impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write), improving cognitive communication skills, and improving memory
Goals in treatment by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)/speech therapist is to help the person speak more clearly; express thoughts more effectively; improve problem-solving, planning, and organization skills; improve speech to make it clearer; reading comprehension skills; improvement of memory using various tools (calendars, notebooks, to-do lists, post-it notes, planner, white boards, etc); learn ways to swallow safely; work on social skills through reading and social cues, etc.
4. SPECT CT –
CT and MRI scans provide detailed information on the anatomical structure of the brain. Brain SPECT imaging reveals the function of the brain by measuring blood flow.
Functional brain imaging is not considered a stand-alone diagnostic tool. While there are varying levels of acceptance among the neurological and psychiatric conditions, the science and technology have been research for decades and there are hundreds of published research studies utilizing SPECT for the evaluation of the various conditions.
Rest and proper sleep is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal. Ignoring their symptoms and trying to “tough it out” often makes symptoms worse. Physical and cognitive rest is often recommended, however this varies greatly depending on the health of the brain prior to the injury, as well as the force sustained.
These activities, patients are advised by healthcare providers to rest from after a brain injury include: reading, using a computer, watching television, playing video games, or working on school assignments. For many people, physical and mental rest until symptoms subside is the only treatment needed for a concussion or other head injury.
During the first 24 hours, the brain needs as much rest as possible, including minimizing mental, and physical stimulation.
After 24 hours, if the injured is symptom-free, the injured person may begin the “relative rest” progressive protocol. Relative rest refers to avoiding any mental or physical activity that provokes the concussion-related symptom (for example if they participate in a physical activity and it increases symptoms, then stop that particular activity)
Each day a person can add more mental and physical exertion, as long as their activities don’t provoke any concussion symptoms. It is advised to avoid any strenuous exercise for a week or so. If you want to keep exercising, try to keep it light. If you’re a runner, for example, try walking. It’s also best to avoid any heavy lifting for a week. Moderate activity over the long term helps reduce effects of depression, feelings of isolation,
Regardless of the severity of your concussion (brain injury), you should be symptom-free before returning to normal activity, and your condition should be carefully monitored by your doctors.
“NEVER GIVE UP ON A HEAD INJURED PATIENT. – Recovery Occurs for the rest of a person’s life. Give people the type of treatment that they deserve. ~David Hovda, PhD“
That is seven years since the accident that rocked my world and changed everything forever. Seven years since becoming the walking dead to the actually breathing and eventually living.
There is no culture in the history of the world and no religion where the number seven is not a powerful and positive number.
The number seven is a number that represents and symbolize introspection, inner wisdom, truth, and the origination of life. It is said to represent security, safety, rest, and is considered lucky throughout our history and through many civilizations.
Seven is known as the number of total completeness and perfection – most often related to a spiritual direction, though the physical part cannot be ignored or discounted either. It derives much of its meaning from being tied directly to God creating the world, where the world was created in six days and God rested on the seventh day – creating the foundation of the seven-day-week we use to this day (for those that believe in that line of thought). The number seven is also featured in the Book of Revelation (seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven stars). The Koran speaks of seven heavens and Muslim pilgrims walk around the Kaaba in Mecca (Islam’s most sacred site) seven times. In Hinduism there are seven higher worlds and seven underworlds, and in Buddhism the newborn Buddha rises and takes seven steps. There are also the 7 deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, anger, sloth) and the 7 virtues of the spirit (chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, humility OR also known as faith, hope, charity, fortitude, prudence, temperance)
Most of us have even heard about the seven wonders of the world, so seven is special to the global community as well. In fact, regarding every day life, studies have shown that most people can retain roughly seven items of information in their short term memory ( a real challenge with a brain injury let me tell ya). That is why phone numbers in the U.S. and many other countries tend to have seven digits (not counting the area code part of the number).
In fact, even when focusing on healthy sleep hygiene, it is recommended to get seven hours of sleep (less than five or more than nine and your risk for heart attack, stroke, angina, and a host of other non-restful issues increases).
Over the last seven years I have really learned to see obstacles and limitations as opportunities and a reason to really lean on HOPE and embrace faith and allow myself to BE hopeful. To give permission to myself to accept a new type of paced existence. But what does that REALLY MEAN…to have HOPE?
This does not mean that I was positive all the time. I can tell you that! Oh no, far from it. See, HOPE does not necessarily equal optimism or positivity. Sure optimists are often more positive than those that are caught up in dark moments/thoughts, or with overwhelming feelings of defeat and depression when faced with a “new normal” where they literally have to learn everything again. However, even the most pessimistic/negative person can have HOPE for things to be different or improve. I can personally attest to the facts that there have been many dark moments/thoughts over the last seven years. Yet being able to hang onto HOPE, hang onto the belief that I was here for a specific reason (even though I didn’t know what that was) and then making the effort to LIVE and embrace my life in every form it came to me in became my focus and continues to unfold as my reality.
This day is spiritually significant to me. It is physically significant to me. This day is emotionally significant to me and I am pleased to be able to take another breath….to reach another goal……to live a new dream and embrace new aspirations and possibilities. I am pleased to be guided by Faith, HOPE, and LOVE. I am pleased to be able to FEEL pain, FEEL elation, FEEL defeat, FEEL supported, FEEL misunderstood, FEEL heard, FEEL sadness, FEEL happiness, FEEL lost at times, and FEEL accomplished.
I am grateful to be allowed to have an avenue to share my journey with all of you and HOPE I can offer some measure of HOPE for someone who may end up reading this today.
So happy RE-BIRTHDAY to me. This is the YEAR OF THE SEVEN. The year I loudly embrace that special introspection, inner wisdom brought forth, speak my truth, and continue the celebration of life. I accept what seven has to offer: security, safety, rest, and while pacing myself, cherishing how lucky I am to continue to rewrite my own history. I open my arms to the Universe and to my experiences and hold hands with HOPE, while living in the moment and looking forward to the future, while building on that visualization.
Grateful for another blessing and another opportunity to draw in breath one more time.
If you have found value in this Site, in any of the content, any of the stories you have read, learned any information that you didn’t know before, felt validated, felt hopeful, appreciated the vast resources provided, can relate to anything you have read, or listened to in these pages, then this is a Call of Action for you.
Please take the time to make a comment, share your thoughts, and tell us what impacted you the most and what brought you here:
This is a long time coming. I have finished my educational training as a Certified Holistic Life, Career and Executive Coach. I am specializing in Transitional Life Coaching, Brain Injury Recovery Life Coaching, and Disability Life Coaching.
I work with a diverse array of clientele from the general public – including medical patients, caregivers, providers, soldiers/veterans, business owners, executives, public officials, professionals, entrepreneurs, LGBTQ, parents, older Teenagers, and others from around the world through virtual connections.
My training incorporates holistic coaching techniques, traditional coaching methods, Brain Based coaching, Ontological coaching, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) coaching, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) coaching, and Positive Psychology coaching.
Also, I am pleased to offer Medical Advocacy Consultant services to those looking to have a bit more support on their rehabilitative journey. Please see the website to get more information on these different services.