Monthly Archives: October 2012

Sharon Stone Is a Survivor

Having a brain injury is often a very lonely experience.   Brain injury survivors may ask themselves, “Who else besides me has also gone through this?”  The fact is that many people have survived brain injuries, including some well known celebrities.

Actress Sharon Stone is a brain injury survivor.  The star of movies like Basic Instinct and Casino had a blood vessel rupture in her brain in 2001.  Through the herculean efforts of her treatment team, she survived.  Stone completed rigorous rehabilitation for her injuries, just like other survivors.  Post-injury, she was able to make a successful return to work, including earning an Emmy award in 2003. So if you ever wonder who else has experienced the struggles of recovering from a brain injury, you can always watch a Sharon Stone movie and know that you are looking at another survivor.

http://trib.com/news/local/how-doctors-saved-sharon-stone/article_cc6e25c9-ae62-5a25-9339-d91cc5197c52.html

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

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Helmet Safety

As a therapist at a post-acute brain injury treatment facility, I often find myself cringing when driving down the highway.  I see so many motorcyclists without helmets and it brings to mind the many patients at our facility who were injured in motorcycle accidents and were not wearing helmets at the time of their injury.  Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is just a bad idea.

According to a 2009 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets were 41% effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries in single vehicle accidents and 25% effective in multi-vehicle accidents.

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811208.pdf

Similarly, a study from Johns Hopkins University found a 65% reduction in brain injuries  resulting from motorcycle accidents when riders wore helmets.

http://archive.gazette.jhu.edu/2011/02/28/motorcycle-helmet-myth-debunked-use-decreases-cervical-spine-injury/

A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that motorcyclists without helmets were almost two and a half times more likely to receive brain injuries than those with helmets.

http://www.chsra.wisc.edu/codes/special-cost/motorcycle-helmet-use-and-crash-outcomes-2010.pdf

The numbers do not lie.  Motorcycle helmets truly do help prevent brain injuries.

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

NASCAR

NASCAR superstar race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss the next two Cup Chase races after suffering his second concussion over the last few months.  Concussion is essentially just another term to describe brain injury.  Earnhardt sought medical help after suffering from repeated headaches following a crash last Sunday at Talladega.

http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/cup/story/_/id/8489668/dale-earnhardt-jr-concussion-2-races

Earnhardt is not the first NASCAR driver to miss time on the track due to brain injuries.  In the video accompanying the above article, former NASCAR driver Ricky Craven talks about the effects of a concussion he suffered from while racing.  Craven was sidelined for several months following a crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1998-03-20/sports/9803200461_1_ricky-craven-hendrick-motorsports-headaches

Former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan suffered multiple severe brain injuries during races at Michigan International Speedway.  These injuries ultimately led to his retirement.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar/blog/from_the_marbles/post/Where-are-they-now-Ernie-Irvan-s-life-after-rac?urn=nascar-280392

Subsequently, Irvan created the Race2Safety foundation and has become a national spokesperson on brain injury awareness.

http://www.irvan.com/race2safety/

All of these drivers have been NASCAR race champions but even champions are not immune to brain injuries.

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

Setting Goals

When I first meet with brain-injured patients, I ask them to tell me about their goals.  In most cases, the patients will tell me about goals involving work and home.  These goals have to do with the long term,  future hopes of the patient.  These goals make fine targets to aim for but they often miss something important.  In order to accomplish these long term goals, short and intermediate term goals must first be reached.  Short and intermediate term goals are the important building blocks that allow a patient to achieve those hopes and desires.  I often find it useful to perform an exercise with patients in which they set short, intermediate and long term goals.  This is an easy task to do at home but can be quite valuable in assessing reasonable expectations and recognizing steps needed in the pursuit of recovery.

For the task, one simply needs to take a piece of paper and divide it into three sections.  The first section is for short term goals; these are goals that can be achieved within one month.  The second section is for intermediate term goals; these g0als should be attainable within six months.  The third section is for long term goals which the patient should be able to achieve within one year.  Sometimes it is helpful to add a fourth section for goals that can be achieved within three months.

It is generally useful for the patient to complete this task with another person.   This person should be familiar enough with the patient’s circumstance in order to be able to offer guidance in recognizing limitations in the patient’s ability to achieve a given goal within a certain time frame and also to recognize achievable goals that may have been forgotten.  Some family members may also want to complete this task for themselves as it can enhance involvement in the planning of their loved one’s treatment and can offer a better understanding of the likely path of rehabilitation.

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