Posted by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on May 9, 2016
Jasmine and her son, Jayce. Photo courtesy of Jasmine Twine.Jasmine Twine was stationed in Newport News, Virginia, when she started to notice that some things were off.“The shipyard had a lot of fumes, so when I started to have vision problems and headaches I thought it was due to that,” she said. Doctors first prescribed Jasmine new glasses and medication, but when she started having debilitating headaches, they ordered a CT scan of her brain. The scan revealed an urgent condition: a cyst on her brain that required surgery. Complications from the removal of the cyst resulted in an acquired traumatic brain injury (TBI).Jasmine learned that whether TBI is acquired or results from a blow or jolt to the head, the symptoms and treatment are similar.“When I woke up, I was paralyzed on my left side,” Jasmine said. “Later, I noticed cognitive deficits when I couldn’t think straight, as well as short-term memory loss. I had problems with my speech. Thankfully, my mom and dad came to stay with me and help me out.”With her parents by her side, Jasmine started treatment at a military hospital. Through different types of rehabilitation — including occupational, speech, behavioral and physical therapy — she relearned everyday tasks and strengthened her paralyzed left side. She also started learning how to drive again. Months later, she was released from the hospital and continued her treatment, eventually getting a new driver’s license.After leaving the Navy, Jasmine recovered her mobility and speech — but she still needed to adjust to a new normal in coping with ongoing behavioral and cognitive symptoms. Now she relies on a few simple strategies to manage her TBI.“I keep notes all over my house to remember things, use my GPS to get to places, and set alarms so I don’t miss appointments or events,” she said. “My family is my support system: My brother lives with me to help me out, and my mom is always there for me.”Jasmine cares for her toddler son, Jayce, while taking college classes and attending support groups for people with disabilities. She also volunteers at military charity events, where she connects with others who have TBI and shares her story of acquired brain injury.“My recovery can be just like those who got a TBI through combat or by hitting their head,” Jasmine said. “That’s why it’s important for me to volunteer with veterans — I feel comfortable around other people who can relate to what I go through.” For more information about the signs and symptoms of brain injury, visit A Head for the Future’s Recognize Web page. Watch videos of those who experienced TBI and got help.
A Veteran With TBI Thrives on Support From His Kids
Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on May 2, 2016
A strong support network can make an enormous difference in the lives of service members and veterans managing the effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). For former Marine Calvin Smith, that support system is his wife and their five children. They help him remember to finish tasks and take medication, while standing proudly by his side every day.In August 2007, Calvin was riding his motorcycle when he was struck by a driver who was texting. Calvin’s helmet saved his life, but his injuries required numerous spinal and back surgeries and eventually the amputation of his left leg in 2012. He also sustained a brain injury, in addition to the multiple concussions that occurred when he’d been deployed with the Marines.While in treatment after the collision, Calvin met his wife Kristina, a speech pathologist at the brain injury clinic. They married and brought together their two families, who now play an integral role in Calvin’s recovery and make it easier for him to cope with TBI.“They help me out with it,” he said. “If I get dizzy, or if I’m having a bad day with memory.”Watch Calvin and Kristina tell their story to see the power of family members supporting their loved one with the day-to-day challenges of living with TBI. Share the video with your social networks to show that everyone has the power to manage a brain injury.If you are a caregiver, service member or veteran who is coping with TBI, download the free booklet from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center “Talking With Children About Moderate or Severe TBI” to learn how to help your kids understand TBI.
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.