TBI Champion: Open Up to Your Kids about Brain Injury
Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on April 18, 2016
Photo courtesy of Defense and Veterans Brain Injury CenterAir Force veteran John Sharpe sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 1990, when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his truck and ran into a tree. He was in a coma for more than 40 days.More than 25 years later, John is a TBI advocate who works at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a liaison to help patients get the care they need. He has a daughter and son, ages 13 and 11.To commemorate Military Children’s Health month, we asked John how he talks with his kids about brain injuries and how others like him can communicate with their family members. John will share his story in an upcoming video for A Head for the Future, a brain injury awareness initiative from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.How did you first explain what a TBI is to your kids?I talked to them about it when they were around 8 and 9 years old. I softened my language so they would understand. I took an egg and shook it, and compared the yolk to my brain when my car collided with the tree.Do you have any lingering symptoms that you specifically warned them about?I have challenges with my short-term memory and time awareness. Sometimes, I can’t tell when five minutes go by or when five hours go by. I let them know those challenges are just part of what I deal with on a daily basis.I also explained the frustrations I experienced while recovering, but I taught them the importance of taking those negative experiences and putting a positive spin on them. That’s what helps me wake up every day and help veterans.How should service members or veterans who experienced TBI talk to their kids?I’ve come across a lot of service members and veterans who are in that situation. The more you can open up and talk about it — and approach coping with symptoms as a normal process — the easier it is for kids to understand. By talking to my kids, I help them see me as their father, not someone with a problem.The first couple times might be difficult; if you keep at it, your children will eventually understand.Download the DVBIC “Talking With Children About TBI” booklet to learn more. Visit the Stories section to watch videos of TBI champions like John and their stories of recovery and hope.
Marine Cyclist Recovers by ‘Following Doctor’s Advice’
Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on March 2, 2016
In 2005, a car struck Marine reservist Maj. Eve Baker head-on while she was biking to work in Honolulu. She flew face-first into the windshield, shattering her helmet — which likely saved her life. Eve was immediately taken to the hospital and spent three days in intensive care.Eve was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). For about two weeks, she had retrograde amnesia: She couldn’t remember anything that occurred before the accident or in the two weeks after. Years later, she still can’t recall what happened in those initial weeks of recovery — except for one question.“I remember waking up … and my engagement ring was missing,” Eve said. “The nurses had put it in the vault for safekeeping. I’m pretty sure I said something like, ‘I’m a Marine; the safest place for that ring is on my finger,’ and they went and got it for me.”To make a full recovery, Eve knew that she had to listen to her doctor’s orders, taking six weeks off work to rest and sleep. She relied on her fiancé, a fellow Marine, for support and help moving around during her recovery.“I didn’t want to sleep by myself … so he would spend hours lying next to me in bed, reading a book, while I would sleep all day,” she said.Today, Eve and her husband are an active military family with two young children. She’s also back on a bike, always wearing protective gear and teaching her kids to do the same.“Helmets might be uncomfortable, and safety gear might be uncomfortable — or you might think it looks dorky — but it saves your life,” Eve said. “If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I wouldn’t be here today.”To learn more about preventing and recovering from TBI, download TBI fact sheets from A Head for the Future. Watch more compelling stories of recovery and hope online.
National Salute to Veterans Week: Share Appreciation on Social Media
Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Feb. 15, 2016
In the eyes of our military community, a simple “thank you” goes a long way. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) kicks off their annual National Salute to Veteran Patients during the week of February 14, offering you an opportunity to honor our nation’s heroes. The week recognizes the more than 98,000 veterans of the U.S. armed services that are cared for every day in VA medical centers, outpatient clinics, residences and nursing homes. The goals of the program are to:Pay tribute and expresses appreciation to veteransIncrease community awareness of the role of VA medical centersEncourage citizens to visit hospitalized veteransAsk citizens to get involved as volunteersThis year, A Head for the Future has an innovative way you can thank our veterans: the Brain Injury Awareness month hashtag card campaign. More than 330,000 service members and veterans have experienced brain injuries in noncombat and combat settings since 2000 (hear some of their stories on our TBI Champions video page).Here’s how you can spread the word: Download the hashtag card (PDF), write a personal message about how you support the TBI military community, and share on social media in March for #BIAmonth.By helping us raise awareness of TBI, you may help us prevent future injuries.The Defense and Veteran Brain Injury Center’s (DVBIC) traumatic brain injury (TBI) initiative, A Head for the Future, promotes brain injury prevention, recognition and recovery resources for service members and veterans, many who are recovering or have received treatment in VA medical centers. March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. Through the month, VA medical centers nationwide are hosting activities and events for our veterans; contact your nearest VA or Vet Center and discover how you, your group or organization can salute those that served our country.