Don’t touch your Homework! Don’t Study! Don’t think!

AdamI am frequently instructing parents to keep their son/daughter on “Brain Rest” following a concussion (also known as “mild traumatic brain injury”).  “Brain Rest” is critical and can prevent/ reduce serious and harmful long-term effects.  Too often, this recommendation is met with resistance, denial and reservation.

My 15 year-old, Adam, suffered a blow to his head during basketball practice this week. Symptoms of concussion surfaced immediately.

I proceeded to explain what “Brain Rest” involves:

  • no school
  • no homework
  • no physical exercise
  • no computer use or Facebook
  • no XBOX
  • no text messages

I knew that I was asking a great deal from Adam. In essence, I was depriving him of everything that matters to him right now in his world. My son, like a normal teenager, is a product of a generation that is constantly bombarded with external stimulation and is never apart from his iPhone. He does not want to be cut off from his friends and his sports.

The first few days were hard. Adam does not know what to do without his phone, friends or Xbox.

I get 20 phone calls the first day:

  •  When will I get better?
  • I’m sick and tired of this!
  • I feel better now!
>> Read more

Let’s end misconceptions about TBI!

 

 

Last Sunday (5/5/13), I watched a segment on 60 Minutes entitled: “Invisible wounds of war”.  The show focused on veterans who sustained traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Public awareness of TBI is slowly increasing, primarily as a result of greater exposure by the media to sports and combat related injuries.

Yet, we still have a long way to go!

Most people with mild traumatic brain injury are still subjected to misconceptions about their condition.  The general public still believes it is easy to fake a brain injury.  Surprisingly, symptoms of brain injury manifest long after the initial event.  Even doctors (and other professionals) often do not appreciate the multiple symptoms associated with mild TBI and fail to give it the recognition and legitimacy it deserves. Routine conventional imaging such as CT scan does not always indicate evidence of brain injury, even though it exists.

This was dramatically brought home in the 60 minutes segment, which showed the latest brain scanning technology, which is unavailable to the vast majority of individuals.  This new technology often displays evidence of brain injury that was not evident on conventional CT scanning.

For me, the most moving part of the segment was when retired Army Major Richards, who suffered from brain injury, was shown his scan.>> Read more

WHAT MAKES ME TICK?

Mental illness or brain injury is responsible for devastating the lives of many innocent people. I see it OVER and OVER again.

Our focus as a society is wrong!

Regardless of whether we are dealing with mental illness or brain injury- we should provide adequate and ongoing treatment to people who need it.

We need to be proactive- not reactive.

Unfortunately insurance companies represent a major stumbling block for people battling with brain injury and psychiatric illness.  Insurance companies are not concerned with the quality of care but only about the bottom line… money. 

There is a direct relationship between socioeconomic factors and quality of care.  Only those individuals, who can afford to pay for private doctors, get needed support.   If you have a decent insurance plan, you have a better chance of succeeding.   If you are poor, you are not going to get the help you need.

Occasionally, rather than getting the appropriate treatment, patients will get the option that best satisfies the greed of the insurance plans.   Admittedly, I have seen colleagues and fellow psychologists also exploit the system so they can get paid.

From my standpoint, as a therapist, this makes me very angry.  I would like nothing more than to provide people with quality care and not let insurance companies dictate what I should do.>> Read more

LIVING WITH BRAIN INJURY – WILL I BE ABLE TO HANDLE THIS?

A sudden brain injury of a loved one impacts on many lives.  For the caregiver (i.e., spouse, child or parent) it marks the onset of a winding, unpredictable and exhausting journey full of uncertainty and fear.

Over the last 25 years of practicing psychology, I have repeatedly observed that even those individuals, who appear really strong, need extra support during this period.

As one of my patients remarked:

“No one can grasp the reality of my life in which nothing is the same as it used to be…”

 The following suggestions may help you:

  1.  Do not isolate yourself.  Loneliness and feelings of alienation are prevalent and contagious.  Force yourself to socialize (meet a friend for lunch).
  2. Allow yourself to receive help from others. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help.
  3. Try to establish some kind of routine in your day.
  4. Take care of your body and exercise. Make sure you are eating healthy food and not drinking too much alcohol.
  5. Find a support group for people undergoing similar experiences.  This will give you the reassurance and unconditional support you will most likely need.
  6. Alternatively, see a therapist who specializes in trauma. The emotional impact of the illness is likely to take its toll. 
>> Read more

A great study tool- Smart Pen By Live Scribe

imgres-11The Smart Pens remembers everything you write and hear-so you don’t have to!

This is a great study tool for individuals who have trouble processing auditory information quickly and accurately. If you are a student or attend meetings this will help you. I love my Smart Pen and use it almost everyday.

To see how it works tap on the video below

Below is the link to Live Scribe the makers of the Smart Pen. Have Fun as you Move A Head.

http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/smartpen/>> Read more

Craig Sears- A Voice for Traumatic Brain Injury (an inspirational survivors story!)

Craig Sears

Craig Sears

 

On January 8, 2013, I was fortunate to meet Craig Sears, who is a “VOICE”  for Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors. Craig’s passion and commitment  to this cause are impossible to put into words.   Craig plays an important role in the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation.  To learn about this wonderful conference and The National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan) read my last post.

Craig is a compelling voice for all brain injury survivors.  He has dedicated his life to fighting for TBI survivors and advocating for their rights.  He wants to make sure that no one goes through what he endured.

Craig suffered a TBI when he was thrown from his motorcycle when he was twenty years old.

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Patrick Donohue, Founder od The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, with Sarah Jane and Craig Sears

To listen to Craig tell his story in his own words click below:

This is the story of Craig, as he wanted it to be published.

If you are wondering why the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation and friends are devoting day and night to help children and young adults who suffer from the #1 leading cause of death and disability, please take just 5 minutes out and read my story then share your thoughts with as many people as you can.

>> Read more

Hope for Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury

Over my 25+ years as a psychologist dealing with brain injury, I have seen too many survivors fall through the cracks.   At the present time, there is no standardized system of care for children with brain injuries despite the fact that it is so prevalent.  Without proper care, survivors of TBI end up in psychiatric hospitals, abusing drugs and alcohol, on the street, jail and even worse.

 It is easier to commit a crime and get hold of an illegal weapon than it is to access proper services for TBI.

On January 8 of 2013, I participated in a wonderful conference  working towards the implementation of the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan) in New York State.

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The PABI Plan would create a standardized system of quality care that would be accessible to every child with an acquired brain injury, regardless of where they live or their insurance.

Below is the link to the newspaper article about the introduction of The National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI) Plan Act, tabbed HR 2600. This is very exciting plan for all survivors of brain injury.

Newspaper article about national brain injury act

Throughout the day,  I participated in stimulating multi -disciplinary meetings, sharing information with leading professionals all working collaboratively towards this common goal.>> Read more

A Free App for voice recognition- Dragon Dictation

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This App will save you time!

Dragon Dictation is magical!  It allows you to speak and instantly see your spoken words in writing.  It’s much faster and easier than typing on the keyboard.  It is an efficient and hassle-free way to send reminders to yourself, text messages, e-mail messages, notes and even Twitter updates.

Below is the link to the app- May it help you save lots of time so you can Move A Head.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8>> Read more

A Free App for time management- 30/30

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 An App to help you get things done!

While there are many time management applications- this is by far my favorite. You set up a list of tasks, and a length of time for each of them. When you start the timer, it will tell you when to move on to the next task.  It is very easy to use and can help in so many ways.  It will remind you to stay on task, or leave the house on time or how much time you have left to do things.

Below is the link to the app- May it help you get lots of things done and Move A Head.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/30-30/id505863977?mt=8>> Read more

Season Greetings!

Dear Friends,

I want to wish you a Happy New Year filled with peace, laughter and many successes.

This past year has seen changes in my professional life and I want to share this with you. I am now working at Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains with people who have suffered head injuries. This includes individuals with TBI, PTSD, stroke, assault victims, veterans and athletes of all ages and backgrounds. It feels great to be back in the Rehab setting, the place where I started my career.

One split second can change a life forever. Almost every day, I meet with individuals and their families helping them to Move A Head.

Please feel free to share this blog with anyone who may be interested.

With warm regards and best wishes,

Heidi>> Read more