Monthly Archives: August 2012

I Believe We Have Met

One of the difficulties that many people have with understanding brain injuries is that the term brain injury itself is unfamiliar.  In reality, most people are familiar with brain injuries but have heard them referred to using other names.  Here are some of the most common alternative names for brain injuries:
Concussion

Head Injury

Knock-out

Black Out

Bell Rung

Seeing Stars

Knocked Woozy

Brain Scrambled

Getting dinged

Each of the above terms is just another way of saying “brain injury.”

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Handwriting Help

After a brain injury, many survivors experience a decline in handwriting skills.  This may be due to an inability to use a dominant hand or a newly acquired general deficit in motor coordination.  However, with practice handwriting can be improved.

One of the best resources to practice handwriting is the ESL Writing Wizard.  This webpage allows you to create free custom tracing pages.  It lets you determine the wording, layout, size and script for your own tracing pages.  I generally recommend that the entirety of the Line Pattern section be set to “dot, dot” to maximize the number of words to be traced.

http://www.writingwizard.longcountdown.com

Remember, practicing skills is vital to rebuilding them!

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: http://tlcrehab.org/

Recommended Reading:Where Is the Mango Princess?

There are a limited number of books on traumatic brain injuries, particularly those written from perspective of the family’s experience.  Moreover, many of the books written by brain injury survivors or their families are often not great reading.  Cathy Crimmins’ Where Is the Mango Princess? is an exception to this rule.

Crimmins provides a no-holds-barred view of her husband Alan’s survival and recovery from his brain injury.  She talks frankly about the ups and downs of everyday life as the wife of a brain injury survivor.  From the joy at her husband’s healing to the discomfort in their marital relations, no topic is taboo.  Since Crimmins was a professional writer (she passed away in 2009), the book offers a concise and measured summary of the view from the front row to her experiences

I recommend Where Is the Mango Princess? for families going through the brain injury recovery process as it provides such an all too rare balanced view of life post-injury.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: http://tlcrehab.org/

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

There is an increasing awareness that mild traumatic brain injuries can lead to permanent deficits in functioning.  This is especially true if a person had multiple mild traumatic brain injuries such as one would receive getting repeatedly tackled in football or by experiencing many explosions in war.

One of my favorite articles that explains the first-hand experience of mild traumatic brain injury is a Sports Illustrated feature on Harry Carson.  Harry Carson was a Hall of Fame linebacker with the New York Giants and captained the Giants to victory in Superbowl XXI.  He is also a spokesman for the Brain Injury Association of America.  In the article, he describes the symptoms of his brain injury (the article calls his brain injury “post concussion syndrome”).  He talks about his fears and frustrations, along with the life changes he needed to make due to his injury.  Although this article is almost 15 years old, it remains a great introduction to long-term mild traumatic brain injury deficits.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1013015/index.htm

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Project Victory

Many experts believe that the hallmark injury of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is traumatic brain injury.  In fact, the Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Brain Injury Center estimated that 22% of all injuries received by soldiers during the recent wars were brain injuries.  Unfortunately, a large percentage of our veterans and soldiers with traumatic brain injuries never receive adequate treatment.  They may subsequently experience deficits such as poor memory, difficulty sustaining concentration and a lack of sufficient impulse control.  These problems often negatively impact success as they return to their lives at home and at work.

The Transitional Learning Center offers rehabilitative services under a special program called Project Victory which is designed to help soldiers and veterans with traumatic brain injuries.  To qualify, the soldier or veteran must have served in Operation New Dawn (Iraq), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) or Operation Iraqi Freedom and have a suffered a traumatic brain injury/concussion during that military service.

There is no cost to the Project Victory participants.  The program is supported by a grant administered by the TIRR foundation and is independent of any government agency.  Length of stay is generally between 6-10 weeks and program participants receive a full range of therapeutic services designed to improve their lives.  These include psychological, speech, physical, occupational and recreational therapies.

Here is a wonderful news story by KPRC on some of our Project Victory participants and the gains they made in the program: http://www.click2houston.com/news/Project-Victory-gives-veterans-healing-hope/-/1735978/9208576/-/wrctws/-/index.html

For more information on Project Victory, please contact Director of Admissions Jim Osborne by phone: (409-797-1455) or e-mail:  (josborne@tlc-galveston.org).

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Visual Scanning Skills With I Spy

As I stated in a previous post, many people with brain injuries have visual scanning deficits.  Often this is due to an injury to the right side of the brain.  An easy (and free) way to practice visual scanning skills is through an adaptation of the game I Spy.

The adapted version of I Spy is a very simple game to play.  At least two people are needed to play.  To start, pick a location or room with lots of items to see but which is not so familiar that everyone knows the location of all the items by heart.  One person is the “spy” and has to find an item that is visible to everyone.  The spy then says “I spy with my little eye ____ (the item).”  It is the job of the other players to point to the item to show that they have found it.

When I Spy is used to practice scanning skills after a brain injury, it is important to vary the location of the items that are being “spied.”  For instance, you may first want to “spy” an item on the right side and then an item on the left side.  Varying locations forces a person to scan the entire visual field.  If this game is being played with someone in a wheelchair, make sure that each item can be seen from his or her visual perspective.  Often items that are easy to see when standing are obstructed when sitting.  Also, make sure that the item is big enough to be clearly seen by all the players.  Sometimes a person with a brain injury loses some of their visual acuity due to the effects of the injury and may not be able to clearly see  small items.  If the person playing has left neglect, they will likely need extra help and direction to scan the left side of the visual field.

I Spy is an easy, portable method to practice visual scanning skills while still having fun!

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Know Your Rights

Many individuals with serious brain injuries suffer from permanent declines in their skills.  Despite these deficits, some of these individuals do have the ability to return to work.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with permanent brain injuries from being discriminated against in the workplace.  Title I of the ADA contains the laws regarding working for any entity aside from the federal government. The US Department of Justice has an excellent questions and answer booklet on Title I of the ADA.  The booklet addresses issues such as reasonable accommodations and work medical exams.

http://www.ada.gov/q%26aeng02.htm

Remember, it is always important to know your rights!

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Irish Eyes (and Brain) Are Smiling

Across the world, the Olympics are a time of excitement and interest.  The top athletes from across the world gather to compete to be the best in their chosen sports.  Irish Olympic gymnast Kieran Behan has a deeply moving personal story.  Behan overcame many serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury to qualify for the Olympics.  His story and his spirit provides hope for the brain injury community.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/27/sports/olympics/against-odds-kieran-behan-of-ireland-to-compete-in-3-gymnastics-events.html

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center:
tlcrehab.org

Visual Scanning Practice With Hidden Pictures

Many brain injured patients have difficulty with scanning skills.  This can be due to many problems such as partial loss of vision, left neglect  or visual-spatial deficits.  Often, but not exclusively, these problems are associated with an injury to the right side of the brain.

One way to practice scanning skills is by using hidden pictures puzzles.  Many people are familiar with hidden pictures puzzles from children’s magazines.  They involve a larger picture having many smaller items hidden within it.  The goal is to locate the smaller hidden items.   Highlights magazine has a number of free hidden pictures puzzles that can be printed from their online website:

http://www.highlightsteachers.com/teachers-toolbox/hidden-pictures

Although this is a fun way to practice scanning skills, it can be quite difficult and some individuals may need help from loved ones to work on these puzzles.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org