March marks Brain Injury Awareness Month, when survivors and advocates of traumatic brain injuries unite to spread awareness about the “invisible” injury. Each year, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) selects a theme designed to help educate the public on the matter. This year’s campaign is called “Change Your Mind.”
Dealing with a life-long injury can feel overwhelming. If this describes you or a loved one, you’re not alone.
Traumatic brain injuries affect more than just the lives of victims. Friends, family members, caretakers and survivors alike know how devastating a brain injury can be. That’s why The Brain Injury Association of Virginia is taking a stand to advocate for those living with the “invisible injury.”
Nearly 21 percent of all car accidents involve a drowsy driver. Adults should be getting seven to eight full hours of sleep every night, yet many people suffer from stress, insomnia, or bad habits that prevent them from getting a full night’s rest. Driving while drowsy does more than make you yawn. By making sleep a priority, you can prevent accidents that could change your life forever. (more…)
A prominent orthopedic surgeon from Virginia Beach, Virginia was attacked in her home on the morning of January 2, 2015. The surgeon’s name, Jamie Alexandra Dale.
Her attacker: Former Washington Redskin’s safety, Curtis Jordan (pictured).
Ms. Dale’s injuries were caused by repeated slams of her head into the floor, an addition to physical injuries to her back, legs, and other areas of her body. Dale was able to get herself to her bedroom and away from Jordan, where she went in and out of consciousness. While this happening, Jordan made an effort to clean the area where the assault happened, and grabbed his belongings then left the scene.
Ms. Dale’s neighbors became suspicious and came into her home, finding her in a bedroom and called 911 resulting in immediate hospitalization. Within the lawsuit filed by our firm on Ms. Dale’s behalf, both EMS and police noted blood on the carpet in the bedroom and hallway, as well as the door frame, stairs, and our client’s bedding.
Concussion and traumatic brain injury have always been a part of professional sports, but it’s only in recent years that awareness and activism has grown up around the issue. Jessie Riley, our Teach Believe Inspire award winner for January, has experience on both sides of history. Keep reading for her reflections on life as an athlete before TBI awareness, her excitement for the future of her company Kitanie, and the epiphany she experienced from a simple coloring book.
What do you remember about the aftermath of your first concussion? Did your family or coaches express any concern when you immediately got back on the ice?
I don’t remember the accident, or hitting the wall. I just remember stepping on a block coming out of the turn at full speed and then waking up with my coach looking down at me lying on the ice. He helped me up, but it was all a blur because I was so dizzy. I went back to the Olympic Training Center, but when I saw the trainers, there was never any mention of concussion or even neck injury. They just told me to rest. I remember my coach had to drive me home because I was too dizzy to function. But that was it. No tests were done. No x-rays. I completed in the US Olympic Trials two weeks later and came in 12th place. The top 6 made the Olympic team. (more…)
In 1998, competitive ice skater Jessie Riley was coming out of a return, bent on improving her speed in hopes of qualifying for the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. Maybe her focus was too strong; maybe her goal had given her tunnel vision. Whatever the reason, the skater’s next move—one she had made hundreds of times before during training—went awry. Moving at a speed of 30 mph, Jessie Riley skidded and slammed head-first into the wall of the rink.
Everything after that was blackness.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was. Audiences at least year’s Women’s World Cup semifinals were paralyzed in shock as they watched medics rush to the rescue of Morgan Brian and Alexandra Popp. The two opposing players illustrated, in real time, the dangers of soccer head trauma.
Just seconds before, Germany’s women’s team had a free kick. Morgan Brian, a defender for the United States, jumped up to “head” the ball. Unfortunately, Alexandra Popp made the same move, only a split-second later. As the ball bounced effortlessly off Brian’s forehead, her skull descended backward, and cracked unexpectedly against Popp’s forehead. The force couldn’t have been any greater if they had actually been trying to assault one another.
Cavin Balaster, our December Teach Believe Inspire award winner, is a true renaissance man who has devoted his talents to solving the puzzle of brain injury in new ways. We were able to speak in more depth with him this month about the details of his recovery from TBI, his current research into nutrition therapy, and his upcoming memoir (due out in 2017).
I actually have no recollection of climbing the water tower. In fact, I do not remember a single moment of this entire day, or about a month following my fall. I wish that I could tell you what thoughts went through my mind. Perhaps I was scared. Perhaps my life flashed before my eyes as I crashed from one steel beam to the next. But the truth is, I do not remember a thing.
The most defining moment of my life has been wiped away, and I am really only able to tell this part of my story based on information that has been relayed to me by others.
During your first months of therapy, what made the biggest difference in helping you toward recovery?
This is a great question, and one that I get a lot. There were several aspects of my recovery that I didn’t expect would make such a positive impact. In fact, I’m in the process of writing an eBook about this very subject.
I had incredible social support, which makes a world of difference no matter what we’re going through. And of course, I am very thankful that I was fortunate enough to receive the initial treatments and surgeries that saved my life.
Honestly, probably played the biggest role in my recovery. I had been in a brain fog throughout much of my recovery and was very emaciated and underweight. Not only was I relearning to talk, walk, and eat again, I was also healing and rewiring my brain. I was putting serious work into repairing my body and learning to adapt, and I couldn’t progress without making sure I was adequately fueling all that work.
Had you written much before your injury?
I had not done a tremendous amount of writing before my injury, but I’ve been a songwriter and musician all of my life. I was a bartender in NYC for years, and storytelling is a forte of any good bartender. The craft of songwriting and storytelling is about conveying a feeling, and that is what I try to do in my writing.
There are a lot of words and phrases that can describe the experience of undergoing a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Over the years of interviewing TBI survivors for this blog and working with many, many more on their litigation cases, we thought we had heard them all.
But after encountering Cavin Balaster, we heard a new description of TBI. One that challenges perceptions of what TBI really means, and encourages everyone to rethink their presumptions of what is possible for survivors. For his clever, courageous reassessment of the nature of TBI, we are pleased to present Cavin Balaster as our Teach Believe Inspire award winner for this month.
On Christmas Day, Columbia Pictures will bring Dr. Omalu’s story to the silver screen in a movie starring Will Smith. “Concussion” tells the journey of Dr. Omalu’s fight against the NFL to have his research be heard; the research that revealed the specific kind of brain damage that professional football players suffer and how it affects their lives even after they are done playing the sport.
Over a decade ago, forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu became the first person to identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players.
As advocates for opening the door for discussion about these serious issues, we are hosting a giveaway! On Friday, December 18th, we will be randomly selecting a winner for two (2) movie tickets to see “Concussion” opening on Christmas Day.
Gain entry by tweeting to @BrainInjuryVA and letting us know why you want to see @ConcussionMovie. Make sure you use the hashtag #BILCCares. Contest begins Friday, December 4 and ends Thursday, December 17 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Good luck!