TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Professor David Figurski’

Covid-19 — It’s Everywhere . . . . To Open or Not to Open

COVID-19 . . . To Open or Not to Open


Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski


David H. Figurski, PhD — Brain Injury Survivor — Professor Emeritus of Microbiology & Immunology — Columbia University


Some governors say “Open.” Scientists say “Don’t open.” Whom do you believe?

I’m a scientist.  I know where I stand.

Below are some facts to help you decide.

For those of you in the west, the coronavirus infections have just begun.  You can see from the map of May 19 (see below) that infections are still moving westward.

Coronavirus Map – New York Times – 05/19/20

Many people, particularly those in the west, don’t seem to understand that the US is still in the early stages of this pandemic. They are lulled by the low number of cases in their state. The numbers are misleading for two reasons.

(1) Only seriously symptomatic (mostly hospitalized) people and celebrities are being tested because the US is seriously in need of more testing.  (2) The virus has not reached you yet. (That’s the especially true in the western half of the US.)

New York City is still very bad, but strict social-distancing guidelines have produced a significant drop in new cases.

Washington State had the potential to become a major hot spot, but they acted quickly and aggressively.

In contrast, several states are opening up and relaxing guidelines, despite a continued rise in new cases.  (That’s the case here in Arizona, where Governor Ducey allowed restaurants to open this week. This decision is particularly horrifying because the pandemic hasn’t really reached us yet.)

Reported cases in the United States

(Every red dot represents a cluster of infections – probably started by an infected asymptomatic traveler.  Right now, most cases are in the east, but every day you see more red dots in the western half of the US.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

Stay Safe and Healthy!


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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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On the Air: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guest: Dr. David Figurski

On the Air: Guest: Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David Figurski

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury


Dr. David Figurski, retired professor of microbiology, talks about his brain injury and COVID-19

I don’t often publicize my radio show on the Brain Injury Radio Network, but one of our brain injury survivors is knowledgeable about the COVID-19 pandemic, which I’m sure is on your mind.  Like me, you probably have lots of questions.

My guest on the April 19th show was my husband, Dr. David Figurski.  David has been living with several physical disabilities since January 2005, when he had a brain hemorrhage, but, fortunately, after three brain surgeries in two weeks, he was unaffected cognitively.  For 35 years, including eight years after his traumatic brain injury, David was a professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University, where he also had a research lab.  David has done research on bacteria and viruses for 45 years.  Unsurprisingly, he has been very interested in the new human coronavirus and the global pandemic it has caused.news-clipart-news-anchor-4

My 80-minute show was live on April 19th, but it was recorded and can now be listened to at any time as a podcast.  My interview of David has two parts.  From 9:30 to 49:50, David and I talk about life with his brain injury.  From 49:50 to the end, David and I discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.

To Listen Go To:

SPEAK OUT! On the Air with . . . Brain Injury Radio Show Menu “Another Fork in the Road”



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(Photos compliments of guests.)

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! David Figurski

SPEAK OUT! – David Figurski



David about 3 weeks before his TBI – in brand new running outfit. David ran about 20 miles per week.

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

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

David Figurski

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

Arizona           dhfdmf@aol.com

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

January 13, 2005           Age 57

4. How did your TBI occur?

It was induced by my doing chin-ups.

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

I realized I had a problem when my vision deteriorated after doing chin- ups.  I knew I had a serious problem a couple of minutes later when I was talking to my wife.  I felt fluid filling my skull, and there was a lot of pain in my face.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
(e.g., surgery, tracheotomy, G-peg)

Ambulance from a 9-1-1 call.
Three surgeries
1. to evacuate the blood
2. to remove an aneurysm that was discovered in the first surgery
3. to remove an AVM (Arterial Venous Malformation) that was discovered in the second surgery.

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

Yes, a little more than two weeks.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., In-patient or Out-patient and Occupational, Physical, Speech, Other)? How long were you in rehab?

In-Patient rehab for almost two months (phys., occup., speech)
Out-Patient rehab for almost sixteen months (phys., occup., speech)
Private physical therapy 2 hours/week for seven years

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

Balance (can hobble indoors, but cannot walk outdoors unassisted)
Double vision (one image is tilted relative to the other)
Difficulty swallowing
Partly paralyzed tongue
Ataxic right arm/hand
Left arm/hand is not ataxic, but it’s not as good as it was pre-TBI
Less feeling in my right leg
Paralysis of the right side of my face

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

Better –  life is slower
more time to spend with people
Worse – loss of independence
loss of mobility
unable to do things that I once did

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

Walking, running, driving, writing, reading, drawing

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

My computer, movies at home courtesy of Netflix, audiobooks

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

Because of paralysis of my mouth, I bite my lip or tongue many times each meal.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

The positive attitude of my wife and all my doctors and therapists

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

My wife and I have always had a close relationship, but now I have more time to spend with her.

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

Yes.  Though my wife and I go out less, we socialize a lot more at home.  I have more time now, so I have more friends.

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

My wife is my main caregiver.  She is also my cheerleader.  Yes, I know how much my wife has sacrificed to do what she does for me.

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

I plan to be able to walk outside unassisted.  My dream is to walk a 5K race in less than an hour.

19. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors?

Have a positive attitude.
Be aware of the love of other people.
Do what you can.
Be patient with yourself.

20. Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

You will probably never be able to do all that you once did, but life can be satisfying

David - 9 years and 3 months after his TBI

David – 9 years and 3 months after his TBI


Thank you, David, for taking part in this interview. I hope that your experience will offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to my readers.


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

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

(Photos compliments of ME.)

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