Our Teach Believe Inspire Award winner for June is Linda Arms, an advocate for brain health for the past nine years. Arms has created a website, The Brain Fairy, that is a resource for TBI survivors and their families/caregivers. We applaud her for all she has done for the traumatic brain injury community and are pleased to bring you more insight into her story.
‘A Balancing Game’
Q: You have said that after your accident it became difficult to think clearly and keep thoughts in your head. Did it become easier over time naturally, or did you have to consciously work at the process?
A: I think it became easier over time, both naturally and as a result of working on it with prescribed therapies or me pushing myself to do things on my own. It has been a very slow, gradual process. It’s been nine and a half years and I’m still seeing improvements.
At first, it was all I could do to deal with just the very simple tasks of living such as getting up, getting dressed, eating and having some interaction with family members and medical providers. Everything I did was slow, methodical action which required me to focus on my movements and the process I needed to follow. Most things were no longer automatic. (more…)
Whether we know it or not, most of us depend upon others to live our lives. With our social nature comes the desire to relate to others in a positive manner. Some people, through events that have happened in their life, become wise and able to guide and help others who are going through similar experiences.
Linda Arms is one of these people.
In early 2006, she had an accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her life soon after the accident was a difficult one filled with pain and struggle. But she persevered through determination and hard work to become an inspiration for others who have sustained similar brain injuries.
Linda Arms is this month’s Teach Believe Inspire Award honoree for her work in educating and helping victims of traumatic brain injuries.
A traumatic brain injury survivor, wife and mother of three, Ann Boriskie has redefined each of these roles as she progressed physically and spiritually since her car accident. Along the way she also founded the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association, which offers hope, support and education to brain injury survivors and their families.
Boriskie’s commitment to helping brain injury survivors has garnered her the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grant in 2013 and again this year in 2015. The Brain Injury Law Center is honored to recognize such a champion for traumatic brain injury survivors.
Ann, Teach Believe Inspire Award recipient, recently took the time to answer some questions from the Brain Injury Law Center. (more…)
Everyone is faced with hardships in life, and sometimes we go through tough times that seem to put our lives on hold. Responding to setbacks in a positive manner is often necessary to move forward.
Ann Boriskie is this month’s Teach Believe Inspire recipient for the way she responded to a terrible car crash that forever altered the course of her life.
Someone She Didn’t Recognize
A former elementary school teacher and corporate executive, Boriskie was a successful mother of three who, by all accounts, had life by the horns. But in 1998 she was involved in a car accident that caused her to sustain a traumatic brain injury. Following the injury, Boriskie was left unable to work because of chronic pain and memory loss, and she struggled to heal physically and emotionally.
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most serious injuries a person can sustain, and it can take months or years to recover. Life can change drastically after such an event. Many TBI survivors must go through long periods of physical, occupational and speech therapy in order to regain some semblance of the life they once led. It is also very challenging for the loved ones of a TBI survivor; they must learn to live and interact with a slightly different version of the person they once knew.
Soon after the accident, Boriskie remembers looking in the mirror and seeing someone different, someone she didn’t quite recognize. (more…)
The recipient of this month’s Teach Believe Inspire Award is Gary Schopmeyer. A musician, teacher and traumatic brain injury survivor, he is an example of where hard work and determination, coupled with a desire to help others, can lead.
To say drumming is a passion of Schopmeyer’s is a bit of an understatement. Not only has he been playing drums for 40 years, he believes drumming and the art of rhythm is a universal language, understood and “expressed by people of all cultures for eons of time.”
It is through this language that Schopmeyer communicates best. Drumming allows him to express himself both artistically and philanthropically. (more…)
This month, our Teach Believe Inspire award goes to Nicole Wight, a TBI caregiver who personifies the definition of motherhood with her selfless endurance and advocacy on behalf of her children.
The inner strength and courage displayed by Wight since a tragic car accident altered the course of her life is truly inspirational. She pressed on and learned a new way of life because she had to for the sake of her children.
In the process, she continues to educate others about living with family members who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.
The Summer Everything Changed
In 2006, Nicole Wight’s children Mackenzie and Michael spent the summer living with their grandparents. In August, returning from a fun day at Chuck E. Cheese, their car was hit by a truck, causing a serious multi-vehicle accident which sadly killed Wight’s mother and left her two children with serious injuries, including trauma to the brain. (more…)
Janna Leyde, our most recent Teach Believe Inspire award winner, exemplifies all three of these qualities in her vocation. As a published writer and a veteran yoga instructor, she is no stranger to sharing the insights gained from her experience as a caregiver to a loved one with a traumatic brain injury.
We were fortunate enough to speak with Janna recently. We’re happy to share her insights about connecting with loved ones with a TBI, the benefits of yoga (to both patients and caregivers) and the vital importance of faith and forgiveness. (more…)
Janna Leyde has been practicing yoga since her early teenage years. She is also a published writer and clearly someone who believes in the close connection between spiritual health and the health of one’s body.
Growing up as the daughter of someone with a traumatic brain injury has shaped her life in many ways. Her first book, a memoir titled He Never Liked Cake, is about her life and experiences with her father, who suffered a traumatic brain injury during the summer before she entered ninth grade. (more…)
It’s been about 18 months since Abigail Maslin, our January 2015 Teach Believe Inspire award recipient, returned with her husband and son to Washington, D.C. They had spent two months in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at an intensive speech therapy program that helped her husband TC overcome the communication challenges resulting from the traumatic brain injury he sustained in the summer of 2012.
The program, Abby says, changed his life. “It was the best thing we ever did,” she effuses.
TC’s brain injury left him with multiple challenges, but the primary one was aphasia — a condition that leaves the brain unable to find or pronounce common words. Abby tells me that even while TC was recovering his ability to walk, he couldn’t do things simple things like visit the optometrist for an eye test — not because he couldn’t recognize the letters, but because he couldn’t say them.
Following the program in Halifax, TC returned to work full-time in October 2014, resuming his former job in the energy industry. For her part, Abby has resumed life as a working parent, teaching in an elementary school, parenting her four-year-old son and writing a memoir about the experience of supporting her husband through his injury.
Q: Now that you find yourself “back to normal,” how has normal life changed from what it was?
A: I don’t want it to go back to normal. I don’t want to go back to being the person I was — I wasn’t living to my full potential. I don’t think that I had a real understanding of what I was capable of. Or what people were capable of, in general.
We’re in a wonderful place right now, where life looks a lot like it did before TC was injured. But it’s never going to be the same. It’s still challenging in ways that we’ve got used to, but other people on the outside wouldn’t understand. (more…)
“Never in my wildest imagination could I have predicted the level of love and support we have received. It has truly transformed my soul.”
Abby Maslin, an English teacher in the Washington, D.C. area, probably never expected to be coaching her own husband in second grade-level reading skills. But the enthusiasm she brings to the role are a remarkable and tear-jerking example of the love, patience and perseverance that are essential to a brain injury victim’s recovery.
‘The Grayest of Places’
Abby Maslin was teaching fourth grade while studying for her master’s degree at American University. She had one son with her husband, Thomas “T.C.” Maslin, an energetic associate director for a major D.C. consulting firm. They’d just celebrated their three-year wedding anniversary a few days before the summer night when tragedy struck.
T.C. Maslin had just finished a round of drinks with friends after a Washington Nationals game. He was walking home from a Capitol Hill bar when he was approached by three men who demanded his money. As Maslin handed over his phone and debit card, one of the men bludgeoned him in the back of the head with an aluminum baseball bat.
The blow shattered his skull. Eight hours passed before he was discovered on the street, unconscious and bleeding internally. When at last he awoke from his coma, he was blind in one eye and had only partial use of his right arm and right leg. (more…)