TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘motorcycle accident’

So, Whaddya Think? . . . . . . . . . Do Motorcycle Helmets Protect the Brain?

So, Whaddya Think?

Do Motorcycle Helmets Protect the Brain?

by

David H. Figurski, Ph.D

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David H. Figurski, Ph.D. survivor of brain injury

Whether or not motorcycle helmets reduce head injuries is a topic that is highly controversial. Witness the fact that some states have motorcycle helmet laws while others don’t.

Clearly, helmets do not prevent all brain injuries. Former National Football League lineman George Visger (San Francisco 49ers), who’s a survivor of a football-induced brain injury, worries about the false sense of security that helmets can engender.  (Listen to minutes 12:00-14:00 of Donna’s August 16, 2015, interview of him.)

On the positive side, many people believe motorcycle helmets can reduce minor head injuries and thereby mitigate or even prevent some brain injuries. I am staunchly pro-helmet in my viewpoint, but I am also realistic about how protective a helmet actually is. Recently, I encountered someone who is an adamant proponent of the anti-helmet viewpoint. Here’s what happened.

Donna and I recently attended a lecture by Carrie Collins-Fadell, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ), on the basics of brain injury and the work of the organization. At one point, I asked Carrie if BIAAZ had an official position on motorcycle helmet laws. (Arizona currently has no such law.) Given the current debate, her unsurprising answer was that it does not.

I’m a firm believer in helmets because one saved my face and possibly prevented a serious brain injury. I loved my bike, and, like most riders feel about their riding ability, I considered myself to be competent, alert, and safety-conscious. But, my bike was totaled in an accident that was not my fault.Vehicules-Moto-476361

As I rounded a bend in the Catskill Mountains of southern New York one Sunday morning, I encountered a massive oil spill that was left on the road by an emergency car repair. My tires lost their grip, my bike and I went down, and my bike ended up underneath on oncoming car. Fortunately, I was thrown from my bike and ended up down the road. (The hysterical driver thought I was still with my bike underneath her car.)

The point of this story is that I was wearing the best full-face helmet I could buy. I hit face-first. I know that because the chin-bar on my helmet was ground down from the road. Because of that helmet, I was able to walk away – although with some road-rash. I hate to think what would have happened to me if I had not been wearing that helmet.

CoolClips_vc040139I told Carrie that I was in favor of helmet laws. But, another member of the audience took issue with me and presented the opposing view. “The only reason I would wear a helmet is if a law required me to.” We had a short discussion about our opposing beliefs. There are valid arguments for both opinions, and I know much more could have been said. But, I was mindful of the time, and I suspected Carrie was eager to get back to her talk. (I know Donna was happy I ended quickly!)

Both of us made valid points. I’d like to address comments that were stated and what could have been said.

The audience-member argued that a helmet adds possibly dangerous weight to a rider’s head. This is a valid point.

Helmets can add up to 5 pounds to the head, and that extra weight can endanger the neck, with consequences for the brain and/or spine. (Professional race-drivers are well aware of this danger. I raced cars at the amateur level, and, again, I considered myself to be safety-conscious, although Donna thought that racing cars at all was a strange way to show it! Nevertheless, I was the first driver in the group to use a HANS device – a carbon-fiber collar that’s held tight by the safety harness. The point is that the weight of the head and helmet is somewhat counteracted by tethering the helmet to the device. There is evidence showing that the reduction in the number and/or force of head impacts by a HANS device is protective.)dk163

The audience-member also argued that a full-face helmet cuts down on peripheral vision.  I completely agree that good peripheral vision is really important for safe riding. I adamantly disagreed with the statement, however, that a full-face helmet interferes with peripheral vision, but I didn’t take the time to give my reasons for believing that way.

It’s true that old full-face helmets have small eye-ports and restrict peripheral vision. But, many modern full-face helmets have wide eye-ports so peripheral vision is not restricted. That was a consideration when I purchased my helmets for motorcycling and car racing.

Another point the audience-member made was that a helmet does nothing to protect the brain in a serious accident and, as was noted above, may make neck injury more likely. I agree that helmets are not protective in a major accident. I know of a rider who was killed while wearing a good helmet.

A helmet will not protect the brain in a catastrophic accident, but a helmet might reduce the severity of a brain injury in a minor accident. A slight impact of the head in a highly-cushioned helmet may lead to no brain injury at all or to a less severe brain injury. But, a slight impact of a helmetless head could lead to a serious brain injury or even be fatal.incident-clipart-accident

The audience-member also mentioned that he’s been riding 40 years without a helmet. I congratulate him for the accomplishment of never having had a serious accident. I too thought I would ride my bike for many years. But, unexpected things happen. One such incident happened to me. It’s why some of us wear safety gear.

The audience-member and I ended by agreeing on a point. We both understand that, during a serious impact, no helmet can protect the jelly-like brain, which exists inside a hard skull.

I understand there is considerable joy in riding totally free and unencumbered. Motorcycles are about freedom, and the principle of individual freedom is paramo61463unt for some people. Those of us who wear safety gear are concerned with the significant risk of riding with the lack of precautions. We still experience the feeling of the impressive freedom that comes from riding a motorcycle – just a bit less.

 

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Kuna Williams

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Kuna Williams

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Kuna WIlliams1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Kuna Williams

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

I currently live in Tempe, Arizona. At the time of my accident, I was a homeowner in Surprise, Arizona.

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

I received my traumatic brain injury (TBI) on July 27, 2006. I was 26 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was involved in a motorcycle accident a couple blocks up the street from home. I was on my way to play a game of billiards.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

When I was hit, a gentleman found my cell phone and called the phone number titled “Mom.” My mother and my father drove from Glendale to the scene of the accident – Surprise. I was taken to the hospital while in a coma. The following morning my mother was advised that, among other injuries, I had received a traumatic brain injury.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I received emergency treatment and was ambulanced to the hospital. I was unresponsive at the scene of the accident, and therefore I was intubated. My left lung was collapsed (left pneumothorax) for which a chest tube was inserted. My left wrist was broken. (I had an open left distal radius and ulna fracture.) It was repaired with multiple screws. An EVD (external ventricular drain) was made for a closed head injury and remained for two weeks. I received a trache (tracheostomy tube) and was placed on a ventilator. (A tracheostomy tube is inserted into the trachea for the primary purpose of establishing and maintaining an airway.) A GJ-tube (gastro-jejunal tube) was also inserted. (GJ-tubes can be used to bypass the stomach and feed directly into the second portion of the small intestine.)webpage-clipart-hospital9-1

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

I was in a medically induced coma for twelve days. About four months after my accident, they put in a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt (which redirects excess fluid away from the brain to the abdomen, which can more easily tolerate surplus fluid). They also installed an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter (used to prevent blood clots from moving through the blood into the lungs), which will stay inside for the rest of my life.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

I had both inpatient and outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab was for three months and included physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Holistic outpatient rehab included physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, and speech therapy. Holistic rehab was for a total of eighteen months. I continue to see a neuropsychologist.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?th

Due to my TBI, I have memory issues, changes in the speed of processing, a field cut (vision loss), and balance issues.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

Certain aspects of my life are better. I have more of an appreciation for what life has to offer, and I am more optimistic about what can be achieved. My feeling of optimism comes from my Faith, the many resources that are provided, and networking.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss cruising custom cars.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

Kuna Williams and Evie

Survivor of Brain Injury – Kuna Williams & wife, Evie

I enjoy spending time with my wife, drawing, attending brain injury events, participating in church, and – best of all – being a caregiver and helping others who have physical and/or mental challenges.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I don’t have much that I don’t like. It’s just sad how it took an accident to bring this new outlook on life.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

What helps me with acceptance is that I realize It can always be worse. I attend support-groups. Others with the similar conditions share with you their compensations, and you share your tips and tricks. You feel good about how you can help someone. I accept my challenge and realize I can use compensations. Acceptance is tough, but, once you have accepted your circumstance, think Oh well. Move on … things WILL get better!

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. What has changed is that I’m not out gallivanting and abusing substances. What has also changed is my financial life and spending tactics.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

See my answer to the previous question.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

I am a survivor, but I also work as a caregiver. My main consumer has a TBI (just like me), and the other gentleman was born with challenges and wasn’t expected to live as long as he has. I treat them as friends that I can relate to. I don’t make their challenges a characteristic.

logo18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I have previously done computer-aided drafting before and after my injury occurred. I also worked retail before I got back into drafting. After my TBI, I was no longer good at drafting. But, I am good at talking to people, and I love to draw. So, that is what led me to being a caregiver part-time and designing T-shirts part-time.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Kuna Willaims & Evie 2

Survivor of Brain Injury – Kuna Williams & wife, Evie

Survivor of Brain Injury – Kuna Williams & wife, Evie

I’ve learned from my rehab that “Things Take Time.” Don’t rush things, but keep trying. Show steady persistence until you develop a routine for something. Find something you are good at or something you want to do.

20.What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Find your Niche!

 

You can learn more about Kuna at the following sites.

SortaFixd

weremovingforward

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . . Carol . . . (for her husband, Andy)

Caregivers SPEAK OUT!

Carol (caregiver for her husband, Andy)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Carol1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Carol

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email? (optional)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

Andy is my spouse. He was 53. He was in a motorcycle accident on his way to work.th

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

I began care the day of the accident. I was in the hospital every day for eight to ten hours waiting for Andy to wake up. We finally came home after five months. I became his full-time caregiver, and I still am. I was 50; I just turned 52.

5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?

No

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

Yes. I was working full-time, but I resigned after the accident.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

We were lucky to have a full team of therapists. But, we had no support-workers because Andy felt that the people were invading his privacy.

8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?

Immediately. I was in the hospital every day to give my husband moral support and the healing effect of touch.

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

My husband’s coma was induced. I was in the ICU (intensive care unit) with him all day. Holding his hands. Playing his music.e799afda1f4dee4bd0c8c6e0606325b1

10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

My husband was admitted to rehab for almost three months. It was exceptionally long. But, he was not in a position to benefit from all the therapies. He suffered from seizures, and the medication made him tired. He slept most of the days. I was at rehab with him all day. I tiptoed out for coffee breaks, but I didn’t go far.

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

I help with Andy’s problems with gait, balance, cognitive functions, memory, and emotional lability (involuntary, sometimes inappropriate, emotional displays of mood, which are overly rapid and exaggerated). I take care of meals, finances, housekeeping, and Andy’s soiled beddings. After continuing physio three times a week, Andy found that his gait and balance improved. The problem with his urinary tract got better on its own. I still accompany him to all his therapy sessions because of his memory problem.

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

Life has become simpler. No running after unnecessary things. This gave me the chance to notice more, and I realized that there all lots of kind and helpful people around the community. Our roles changed – I have to deal with the house and finances.

13. What do you miss the most from pre-brain-injury life?hotel-clipart-transparent-background-4.png

We travel together two or three times a year. Andy was the one who used to plan and book the trips and accommodations. I miss him sharing his ideas about everything.

14. What do you enjoy most in post-brain-injury life?

Being with him. Seeing the progress every day. Listening to his fears and seeing him happy.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

A lot of people are not aware of TBI (traumatic brain injury). I myself never heard of it until my husband was diagnosed as having a TBI. It has drastically changed his life. I have to deal with all the house work and repairs. I have to make the final decisions.

16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?

Yes. Andy used to tell me that there are no regrets in life. Everything is done through our own decisions. We cannot say “What if … ?”No Excuses

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. My role is now changed. My two children and I miss Andy’s ideas, suggestions, and guidance.

18. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes. I have become overprotective. I don’t want to leave my husband alone. My friends are all working, so not only is there no time to meet, but it’s also not easy for me to leave the house without him.

volunteers19. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I would love to volunteer and help other people.

20. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Be patient; time heals. It’s a learning process to both the survivor and the caregiver. And, it’s absolutely worthwhile! It changed my perspectives in life.

 

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Rodney Smith

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Rodney Smith

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1 Rodney Smith

Rodney Smith – Brain Injury Survivor

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Rodney Smith

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Ravenswood, West Virginia, USA

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

It happened on May 14, 2008. I was 52.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

It was just another day – Wednesday, May 14th, 2008. Really, it was just another day – in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month, and almost in the middle of the year. It was beautiful weather, a little cool maybe, but a great morning for a quiet ride to work. Little did anyone know it could have been my last

I showered, shaved, and got ready for a day at the office like I had for the last eight years. I got on my motorcycle like I did most days for the last four years. I chose the Yamaha TW200 this day for reasons I will probably never remember. (I actually hope I never do.) I rode to the end of our dirt road and then headed west on Georgia 16. My wife left about the same time or shortly after, but she headed east on Georgia 16.th

About 10 miles down the road, my wife saw a Georgia State Police car speeding west with its blue lights flashing. Immediately, she felt sick in the pit of her stomach. She resisted a strong urge to turn around and follow the trooper. She said to herself that she had no way of knowing where the police car was going, but she felt deep in her heart that she was sure what had happened. The only question was “How bad was it?” My wife kept driving, and less than a mile down the road, a Spalding County sheriff’s car in front of her flipped on its blue lights, pulled a U-turn, and flew past her, going west on 16. The sickness in my wife’s stomach got worse, but once again, she fought the urge to turn around. She didn’t know anything for sure, and cops do that all the time, so she kept driving.

Shortly after, my wife’s cell phone rang. She looked at the number, and it all but confirmed her worst fears. It was from my cell phone, and I never used my phone while I was riding. Since I had left the house less than 20 minutes earlier and since it is at least a 30-minute ride to my office, this couldn’t be good. Still she had hope that maybe I forgot something or just broke down and was calling to let her know. But, as soon as she heard the voice on the other end, she knew. A man’s voice confirmed what she suspected when he asked, “Do you know an older gentleman who rides a motorcycle?” All she could say was “How bad is it? Is he alive?”

He told her I was alive. My wife said she was on her way there, but he told her not to come out 16 because the whole road was blocked. He told her to head for downtown Atlanta because they were life-flighting me there. He didn’t know which hospital yet, but he would call and let her know as soon as he found out.

This all seemed to be happening in slow motion, but the next few hours were a blur. My wife doesn’t remember stopping to turn around, but she found herself headed back to the house to get things she knew she would need – like the phone numbers of family and my office. She was not a person who prayed much, but she took time to ask God to help and keep me alive if He could. My wife did not give much more thought to that prayer, but God apparently did.

The only thing resembling a clear memory between the Sunday before the accident and the first week of August is of a canyon I was looking into. I was about to step in or float in or something when I felt a beautiful and powerful presence surround me and pull me back from the edge. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew it was my wife, Bonnie, pulling me back from wherever I was headed.

I believe with all my heart that that happened when I was in the life-flight helicopter. The medical reports say they had to revive me twice while flying me to Atlanta. I feel that, during that time, God heard my wife’s simple and sincere prayer and sent her spirit to the edge of the Valley of the Shadow of Death to bring me back because He was not finished with me yet. He wasn’t finished with either one of us.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

I didn’t fully realize anything for about two and a half months. On the second or third day I was in the hospital, my wife, Bonnie, knew something was not right. She told the kids, “He’s not in there.”

2 Rodney Smith ICU

Rodney Smith – Brain Injury Survivor

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I was treated at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Grady is a very good trauma center. It’s staffed with Emory University doctors. They did a great job with my broken jaw and broken wrist, fixing those with titanium plates and screws. They did a CT (computerized tomography) scan and found some bleeding on the brain. Since I could talk and tell them a birth date (actually, a wrong one), they didn’t refer me for any kind of rehab. Bonnie kept telling them that something was wrong. On the day of my discharge, they had an evaluation done and decided to refer us to a neurologist.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

Maybe 36 hours

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?

After working our way around the medical system for two and a half months, we finally got to a neurologist who at least knew she couldn’t effectively evaluate me. We were referred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta. This was the turning point in my recovery. Shepherd Center is one of the top ten rehabilitation hospitals in the country. They specialize in spinal cord and brain injury rehab.

3 Rodney in HospitalHow long were you in rehab?

I spent about three months in the Shepherd Pathways Day Program, which is their outpatient brain injury rehab. I had sessions three times a week in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I have short-term and working memory problems. I lost most of my ability to multitask. I have problems with balance. Problem-solving takes much longer than it did pre accident. I have issues with dyslexia. I tend to cry more easily.

10. How has your life changed?

Is it better?

My life is better in that I appreciate things more and care more about things that really matter. I care less about things that don’t matter. My attention to detail is better when it comes to the one detail I can focus on (see how my life is worse).

Is it worse?

My life could be considered worse because I can only focus on one thing at a time. Because of this, people around me can’t depend on me the way they used to. But, there’s a flip side to that. When I work on a project, my single-mindedness allows me to focus on what I am doing and be more precise than before the injury. Those days, my mind was often on many things at the same time.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss being able to solve problems quickly.Decisions

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I enjoy spending quality time with my wife, Bonnie, and my kids and grandkids. I also enjoy building things and working at my own pace.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I don’t like that it is still very difficult to make decisions. It takes me what seems like forever to weigh options and decide on anything. Bonnie makes a game of it, sometimes continuing to give me options. That’s frustrating, but amusing.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

I accept it because I see that God has a plan, and I’m still part of it.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. Bonnie and I are closer now. But, her life is more difficult because she doesn’t know what I will remember and what I won’t, so she has to remember everything just in case.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Not really. My social life is not much different, since I was kind of a loner and spent most of my time with family anyway.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

Bonnie is my main caregiver and my angel. I know it is a very difficult task. I am very thankful every day for what she does.4 Rodney Smith Sideboard

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I hope to be building furniture and fixing things for many years to come.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

One thing Bonnie and I have discovered is that, since my memory can’t be relied upon, I now use my camera phone and take pictures of everything I might need to refer to later.

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

There is hope and purpose after brain injury.

 

Thank you, Rodney for taking part in the SPEAK OUT! project

To learn more about Rodney Smith, visit his website, Hope After Traumatic Brain Injury

Take a few moments and pop over to Lash & Associates Publishing to read Rodney Smith’s article, “Brain Injury Adjustments: Self-Reinvention.”

**********

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . . Terry Davis (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury –  Terry Davis (survivor)

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

 

terry-davis-1

Terry Davis – Brain Injury Survivor

Terry Davis (survivor)

I have a traumatic brain injury from a motorcycle accident back in 2006. I’ve been thinking about what I went through during my recovery. I was taken to the Center for Neuro Skills located in Bakersfield, California for six months. I went through some intense exercises to get back my memory and my cognitive thinking. I was totally delusional and made things up that were total fabrications. Anyway, I finally started coming back to reality, and in recognizing that I had recovered, they released me to back to the world I used to know. It was very hard. It’s been ten years since then, and I can honestly say that I’m doing much better now.

terry-davis

Terry Davis – Brain Injury Survivor

I’m slowly realizing who I used to be and what I agreed with and had opinions about. My psychologist told me to forget the “old” Terry and find out who the “new” Terry is and improve on that. It made life so much easier.

 

Thank you Terry Davis for sharing your story.

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As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury Beth Kidd Koziol (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Beth Kidd Koziol

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Beth Kidd Koziol

Beth Kidd Koziol – Survivor

My brain injury happened in 2005 from being a passenger on the back of a motorcycle. I had a traumatic brain injury (TBI)/closed-head brain bleed, a fractured clavicle, five fractured ribs, a lung contusion, many fractures in my left hand, including a fractured scaphoid bone. (I was told that, if the blood supply could not get to it, I would lose the use of my hand. Thank God, it healed!) I also had a badly fractured pelvis and several torn ligaments in my left shoulder. I was airlifted to a trauma unit, where I stayed for three days. I was then transferred to a rehab hospital for about two months. There I got extensive occupational, physical, and speech therapies. I had a neuropsychologist, a neurologist, an orthopedic specialist, and a pain-control specialist. After I left the rehab hospital (in a wheelchair), I visited three times a week for an additional three to six months. I had to learn how to eat, swallow, talk, and walk. I had taste and smell issues with food, plus I couldn’t swallow normal foods. I got dizzy when I moved my head. It was determined that I had shattered microscopic bones in my left ear (the side of all my injuries). After about three weeks of physical therapy, I had a treatment that corrected that problem and reset those little microscopic bones.

I left the rehab hospital in a wheelchair. It took me another three to four months before I could walk with a walker and then with a cane. Now I use nothing. After six to nine months of continued outpatient sessions of physical therapy and occupational therapy, I was called “Wonder Woman” and “Miracle Child” because no one knew how determined I was in my recovery. I was my own caregiver because I was 3,000 miles away from family. Rather than alarm them, I did not tell them of my accident until I was well enough to travel back to the East Coast and tell them in person, so they could see that I was OK on the outside. My family still doesn’t understand the damage and changes on the inside that I endure daily. I have short-term memory problems, I can no longer multitask, and I have to talk in detail as if I were writing a book or describing a picture. I’m told I talk too much; that hurts. If I am doing anything, including talking, and I am interrupted, I cannot remember what it was that I was going to say or do. This is commonly the new normal for many brain injury survivors.

Beth Kidd Koziol 2 survivor 051616

Beth Kidd Koziol – Survivor

The best thing I can suggest is to find materials – books to read to get informed or educated and websites that help you understand what a TBI-person goes through. It helps the survivor when you understand and are patient with him or her. After ten years for me, I still find areas in which I am still healing.
My motto is “Never Give Up!” [smile emoticon]

 

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Evan Powers

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Evan Powers

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Powers, Evan Joseph Motorcycle

Evan Powers – Brain Injury Survivor

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Evan Powers

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

My brain injury happened on August 30th, 2014. I was 31.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was riding my Harley V-Rod Muscle with friends, and I was hit by an SUV. The driver, in a rush to buy smokes, turned illegally left and hit me. I died, was revived, fell into a coma, and “received” a traumatic brain injury (TBI) (diffuse axonal injury and brain stem damage). I had to relearn how to do everything! I’m doing very well, however – “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and I’ve proven to be a tough SOB. (LOL!)

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

At the scene of the accident

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

A lot (LOL) – a craniotomy, arm surgery (compound fracture of my left arm), and intensive therapy (cognitive, vocational, physical, vocational, mental health, etc.). And I continued therapy (once a week and checkups).

Powers, Evan Joseph hospital

Evan Powers – Brain Injury Survivor

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

Yes. I was in a coma a month.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

Yes. I did intensive inpatient therapy at Craig Hospital in Colorado (an incredible place!). Afterward, I continued with intensive rehab. Now I’m going only once a week.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I have balance issues, left-side weakness, and memory loss. I am prone to impulsivity and mood fluctuations.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

My life has changed in many ways – both negatively and, more importantly, positively! I suffer with balance issues, left-side weakness, memory issues, impulsivity, and emotional control issues. While those deficits suck (LOL), I’ve changed in so many ways for the better. I’m more positive. (I struggled with depression terribly before the accident.) I do not take life for granted, I am funnier and more fun-loving, and I am more passionate. Further, I’ve gained an understanding into the hell of having a TBI, and I have been moved to work with those who experience likewise – encouraging, sharing, and helping other survivors!

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss some things – my job, my friends (lost a lot after the accident), having a sense of purpose, working, and – crazy as it may seem, considering what happened – riding my motorcycle (LOL). … But all in time!

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I like how positive and passionate for life I am now. J

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I dislike not working and my left arm being weaker.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Yes. I have been helped by friends, doctors, experience, time, and especially my mom!

15, Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes, very much so! I’m now divorced. (My ex and I had a rocky relationship before the accident.) Because of my problem with impulse control, I rush into relationships and “move too fast.”

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes. I lost a lot of friends after my accident. There were several reasons: my crazy behavior, being afraid of interacting with me, or just being “lousy friends” (LOL) – (for the best, I see now).

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

My mom is my main caregiver. She helps me out tremendously. I couldn’t have done what I did without her and my brother, Chris. Their love and support is much needed and is greatly appreciated!

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

My future plans include going to school to get a degree in a field in which I can work with TBI survivors. I want to continue to heal, and I plan to start working part-time. I intend to better myself and help others, which has me excited!

Powers, Evan Joseph

Evan Powers – Brain Injury Survivor

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Recovery from a TBI is brutal, but it gets better. Sometimes you run; other times, you crawl. Keep pushing and fighting – it’s worth it!

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Be patient with yourself. Do the best you can – that’s all you can do. Keep fighting. I know that it’s hard, but it is worth the struggle! Also, reach out – get involved with other survivors. We understand each other more then others without injuries can. We’re family – rely on, encourage, and strengthen one another!

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

 

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