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Excerpt One

From Brain Injury Advocates, Chapter 6: A Twenty-Five Year, Moderate-Level, TBI Odyssey, pp. 58-59

Also, I could not tolerate or endure any demands placed upon me by anyone. In other words, all I attempted and accomplished had to be on my own terms. There was no other way. Physically (psychologically, too) there was no other course of action for me. My explanation of that is that a brain is going to take its own good time to heal, thank you, and the Lord God and the survivor are the ones who are the primary orchestrators of that great endeavor. Walk in my shoes before you say anything that would contradict that.

I would also interject here that at the time of my injury I never heard the term Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) mentioned by any of the numerous doctors I saw. However, it is now known that sometimes vestibular disorders are caused by the dislodgement of small calcium carbonate crystals in the inner ear. In 2012 there are medical treatments for this condition. If you have a vestibular issue after your TBI, one of the experts you want to see is an Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) medical doctor. Please consult a board certified otolaryngologist for assessment and treatment. For example, you may get a referral from the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (http:// www.entnet.org).

One thing that probably would have been helpful to me in 1985, 1986, and 1987 was if I had known about brain injury support groups and information and referral agencies. But none of my doctors mentioned the existence of any support groups or organizations for head injury. Maybe there weren’t any around in my area back then. I am certain that by now doctors know that they should alert their patients to outside sources of support, information, and referral.

1987 and Beyond

By now I decided to stop putting pressure on myself. Apparently I was stuck with this new person I had become, and I was just going to have to get used to it and live with it. No more pressure. No more trying to recapture the old life. I decided I had to move on and accept this new life. Once I more or less gave up on resurrecting my former self and life, a good thing started to happen. I started to realize that I was getting slowly but surely better. It was a surprise because by now I had accepted my totally reduced circumstance, so any improvement at what I thought was a late date was an unexpected and unanticipated wonderment. (In those days the prevailing opinion of the medical community was that most of the improvement after a head injury would come within six months to a year after the incident. It is now known that in many cases improvements can extend years past the incident.)

By now I had found ways to take control of my environment. I had to in order to function at all. If your brain has decided that you sitting down or standing up, reaching down, or turning around are actions that call for waves of nausea and dizziness, you have to take control, complete control, as to how you move around, and as to how quickly you move around. You have to have control over the external environment. You have to completely control the amount of movement and other sensory input to which you expose yourself. For example, that means curtailing being in a moving vehicle. That means not trying to watch a television screen. There is a lot of movement on a television screen. That means putting everything important in the kitchen on the counter top so you don’t have to bend down to get things out of the kitchen cabinets below. I went through that stage for a very long time. I felt as though I could be blown over by a feather during those early years. Therefore, I strategically modified my environment to make it safe and tolerable.

Many years went by. I gradually got a great deal of capacity back. I progressed to being able to walk fairly well a good deal of the time. I had rather walked around like a person with a drinking problem for a while there. But one of the lingering problems was that I had lost the ability to recline on my left side. Attempting to do so sent me into a horrific and terrifying spin. About once a month I would test out whether or not I could lie on my left side, but I wasn’t able to. Eventually, I was able to lie on my left side for short periods of time. It was at least ten years later before I could sometimes comfortably do that, at least for a little while.

Excerpt Two

From Brain Injury Advocates, Chapter 38: A Right to the Pursuit of Happiness, pp. 300-301

The Children

Concussions are dangerous, and they are especially dangerous for children (The Impact of Concussions on High School Athletes, 2010). What with all the recent research on the danger of concussions, it is time for society to take a long hard look at contact sports. Society has a duty to protect the children. Children should have every opportunity to grow up healthy, mentally sharp, and physically strong in order that they lead happy, healthy, and productive lives. It is good for the children, and it is good for society. We people at the Brain Injury Network who have had brain injuries have thought about whether or not the lessons to be learned from such contact sports as football and boxing are so important that they outweigh the dangers of these contact sports, and we think, no. We think it is more important to protect the children from potential concussions than it is to teach them life lessons through the use of contact sports. There are other ways to teach kids important life lessons. There are also better ways for them to stay physically fit. Here is a policy from the Brain Injury Network that has to do with prevention of brain injuries.

Sports or Athletic Activities - A Good Mind for Life is More Important than a Trophy

Public Policy of Brain Injury Network Policy Dated 3-11-10

Those of us who have sustained brain injury do not want any children to have brain injuries just because their parents, fellow students, coaches, schools, and professional athletes promote and glamorize what really can be quite dangerous sports activities. We recommend that children not engage in sports activities that might lead to brain injury. We believe that contact sports, such as football and rugby, are too dangerous for children. We go so far as to state that boxing is too dangerous. We also believe that children should always wear protective head gear when biking, skiing, and boarding, etc. We also note that particular activities in certain sports are too dangerous for both children and adults. Examples of dangerous activities include head-butting in such sports as soccer, football, rugby, and wrestling. We recommend that children never engage in head-butting with other children or even with just a ball. Blows to the head are dangerous.

We recognize that playing sports is valuable. Children learn from playing sports. They learn about teamwork, strategy, competitiveness, cooperation, and how to gracefully win or lose by engaging in sport. Athletics and sports also help children develop their coordination skills and help them stay “physically fit.” There is also evidence that exercise in and of itself helps stimulate brain function as well. But surely there are safe sports that children can play in which they can learn the value and fun of organized sport. No dangerous sporting activity is more important than the value of a sharp mind, especially to young people who have their whole lives ahead of them. Being able to think clearly is more important than winning a game or trophy. So, we recommend that society, especially within school systems, put in more of an effort to stress sports that are less dangerous.

Perhaps someday even adult human beings will disengage from the pursuit of all contact sports that could conceivably injure the minds of their competitors or their own minds. That time of enlightenment is probably a long way off, but we are happy to present that as a potential goal for humanity. (Brain Injury Network, 2010a)

People with Brain Injuries Who Live in Nursing Homes

People with brain injuries are entitled to have a quality of life. They are entitled to live fulfilling and satisfying lives. It is an inalienable right. Basically many other topics covered in this....