• TBI Champion Recovers From 50-Foot Fall With Support From Family, Friends
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on June 7, 2016
    In 2014, Regina and Jim Woodside received an urgent call from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Their son, Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Colin Woodside, was in the emergency room after falling 50 feet while he was rock climbing. Although Colin always wore a helmet while climbing, he took it off this time to retrieve gear at the top of the cliff. The doctors said he had sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and was unresponsive — but alive.Regina and Jim were on the next available flight out of San Diego. “We didn’t know if he would ever walk again. We didn’t know if he would talk again…,” Regina remembers. “There was a wonderful doctor in the emergency room, and he said, ‘It’s going to be a while, but he’s going to recover.’”When Colin woke up, he didn’t know how he got there. Regina made flash cards to remind him every day where he was and what happened so that he could be released from the hospital. Colin started physical therapy and vestibular therapy while learning about TBI recovery through the brain injury education course from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. His family and fellow Coast Guard members were by his side throughout his path to recovery. “The support system is critical,” Colin says about his family and friends. “They were there for me the whole process. … Even though they don’t know what’s going on inside, they’re just there for you, and if you have any frustrations you can share it with them.”Today, not only is Colin walking and talking, but he’s also back on the cliffs climbing rocks. However, because of his experience, he now takes additional steps every time he climbs to protect his head and prevent TBI.“I always check my partner’s climbing gear. We do a self-check. We always communicate like you have to,” Colin says. “I enjoy [rock climbing] a lot more because I know how dangerous it can be. But then I also know the safety that’s involved and how critical it is.”Check out A Head for the Future’s tips to prevent TBI during everyday activities and help others understand the importance of protecting their heads. Also visit the “Stories” page to watch videos of other service members and veterans sharing their experiences with brain injuries.
  • Former Sailor Experiences a Different Kind of TBI
    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.