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

Four legged creatures with waggly tails can save lives:

Last night, as I was flipping through channels, I came across a show entitled: CNN Heroes; Everyday People Changing the World.

The show featured Mary Cortani. She founded a nonprofit that matches war veterans who suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety and depression with their own service dogs.

Afghanistan war veterans have to start their lives all over again.  Their disability does not get the proper recognition it deserves.  Unwanted dogs (from rescue and shelters), help in ways that are beyond the scope of human beings.  As I was watching the show, I was deeply struck by the strong bond between the veterans and their dogs.  I am a dog lover myself and understand the boundless strength I get from my dog Nelly.

My thoughts go back to a veteran by the name of Teddy who I met in my office. Teddy had just returned after serving as a commander in Afghanistan.  Like many returning veterans, he suffered from PTSD and TBI.

Here are some actual quotes from my first sessions with Teddy:

“ I’m a mess and on edge about everything these days…. “

“ I feel paralyzed and I can’t do anything….”
“I wish I had lost my legs in the war instead of a TBI. 

>> Read more

WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

Even if a person is injured and is taken to the emergency room, initial tests, including x-rays, CT scan and MRI of the brain often come back negative.

Individuals are discharged with Tylenol and told to follow up with doctors on an as needed basis.

NO ONE TAKES IT SERIOUSLY.

 “I wish someone, anyone, would have taken the time to explain the injury to me…”

Many individuals do not know they had a traumatic brain injury until much later.

Here are actual quotes of individuals who are currently undergoing treatment with me for their TBI.

How many of these apply to you?

o   “I don’t feel like myself…”

o    “I’m tired of hearing it’s in my mind!”

o    “It’s difficult to be treated like a kid…”

o   “Stop telling me to move on!”

o    “I am worthless”

o   ”I feel paralyzed.   Everything else carries on normally…”

o    “Even my doctors are ignoring my symptoms…”  

o   ” I don’t enjoy being pitied…”

o   “Anything pisses me off…”

o   “I’m tired of hearing people say -get over it!”

o   ”I can’t focus or remember things…”

o   “I can freeze (or panic) when I don’t understand something…”

o   ”I have severe headaches …”

o   ”I am always exhausted…”

o   “I don’t know from one moment to the next what is going on?”

o   ”I am very grumpy and frustrated all the time…”

o   ”I am drinking more alcohol and taking more medicine than I should…”

o   ”I’m truly alone in the world…”

o   ” I even thought of killing myself…”

o   “I’m losing hope that things will ever be normal again…”

o   “I need my seclusion.>> Read more

SANDY THE TBI

“The Monster storm‘s devastation was beyond catastrophic…”

“ The worst damage we have ever seen”

I’ve always assumed that I live in one of the most resilient cities in the world.  Yet today, practically everyone I know is shaken by the power of Sandy.   It is quite a surreal experience, resembling a Hollywood Movie with costly and high tech digital effects.

In this post, I am going to link the devastation of the storm with that of a brain injury.  Why?

The answer is simple.  My goal is to help people better understand what everyday life is like for an individual after a TBI.

If you know someone who has a brain injury- PLEASE READ THIS POST.

“I’m tired of people making stupid comments, denying the seriousness and permanence of my condition”…

“They see me dressed up and think all my problems have disappeared…”

Almost every individual who suffers a brain injury feels misunderstood.  As a result, they often isolate themselves from their loved ones.

It is very difficult for most people to truly grasp what living with a head injury is like.  I am hoping this post will help you understand TBI a little better.  Support from friends, family, and professionals is crucial for every person, especially somebody with a TBI.>> Read more

Hello world!

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I am thrilled to announce the launch of my new blog.

One split second can change a life forever.  Almost every day, I meet with individuals whose identities have been tragically “taken” from them from right under their feet.

My day is devoted to helping these individuals.  Everyone is equal, regardless of ethnic background, education, upbringing and profession.   You all struggle with the same losses, frustrations and isolation.

Why is there so much prejudice against people who suffer brain injury?

  • Our society fails to acknowledge and help individuals who are suffering from brain injury.
  • Brain injuries, unlike other physical injuries, are invisible. People may look good on the outside, but have significant problems dealing with every single moment of their day.
  • Brain injury is confusing to people who don’t have one. It is called the “invisible illness.”
  • Acquaintances, friends, family and co-workers do not understand the permanence and seriousness of the injury.
  • People very often believe that those individuals suffering with TBI are not trying hard enough to get better. People often believe that patients are lazy, unmotivated and lying.
  • Frustration often occurs, and splits families, friends and others when TBI issues manifest.

But hope is on the way

  • Head injury is slowly getting the attention it so desperately deserves.
  • The media, including internet, television and newspapers, are starting to highlight relevant news about this long overdue subject.
  • Large number of war veterans and athletes are being diagnosed everyday with head injuries

It is overwhelming for you to shift through this yourself!  In this blog, I will selectively post suggestions  that I know can help change your life.
I want you to have the right advice and support to tackle all the unknown obstacles lying ahead for you.

Examples

  • What can I expect my future to be like?
  • What help should I get and from where?
  • Are there new Apps that can help me navigate more reliably through my day?

I am tired of seeing all the biases to which you are subjected!

This blog is a platform for each and every one of you to voice your concerns and get much-needed support from one another and also from me. That is why I decided to have this blog: It is to help and provide you with practical advice.

If you have a question or a topic that you need to understand, please let me know.

Everyday, I am humbled and inspired by each one of you.  We need to unite.

This blog is dedicated to all the wonderful individuals I meet with everyday, whose lives and stories need to be heard!

Together lets change the world and the biases! I urge you to speak up and make your voice heard.  Pass this blog and the Face-book page along to your friends and relatives.   It is certainly the right moment in time to do this!
So together
Lets Move A Head!

Dr. Heidi Spitz heidi@spitz.com

 

 

Can I improve my memory with computer software?

I am frequently asked this question.  Even my fellow professionals debate this issue. I have decided to dedicate my first Moving Ahead blog entry to this topic

In my opinion computer games can be a helpful addition to treatment by focusing on practicing specific skills. So while you typically get better at a specific game, you are not necessarily improving overall function. That’s not always a bad thing – for some folks it is a good starting point, but it is not a complete solution by any means.

For optimum success your treatment should be specific to your unique needs.  The reality is that each individual learns differently.

While there are lots of options, I will only list a few today.  First, I do not wish to confuse anyone by listing too many choices.

Second, if you are aware of the underlying reason why you are playing a game, you will more likely use this skill in your daily routine.  You will find for every game listed below, the deficits this activity is targeting.

I will suggest a few games at a time; I will update my recommendations on a regular basis via email (hard copies available if requested) and by blog postings. 

>> Read more