TBI survivor gets back on her bike to help other veterans
Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Dec. 2, 2015
In 1987, retired Air Force Capt. Sue Davis was going for a bike ride — one of her favorite activities. As she rounded a corner, a car driving erratically collided with her. Sue wasn’t wearing a helmet.“I had a helmet — but, back then, the only time I’d ever seen accidents were in large organized bike rides. … So I didn’t wear a helmet, and most of my friends didn’t wear helmets either,” Sue said. “I have my brain injury because of a poor decision. … It had an impact that’s been a lifelong impact that I can’t change.”Sue was initially diagnosed with a concussion, but after her symptoms — such as memory loss and speech problems — persisted, her doctors diagnosed a more severe brain injury. Over time and through treatment, Sue’s speech problems subsided and her memory grew stronger. Yet she was scared to cycle again, and thought that she never would. After 20 years, Sue overcame the fear that stemmed from her crash, getting back on her bike to complete a charity ride. That’s when she realized: “You never know what you can do until you try.”Completing the ride showed Sue that she had recovered from traumatic brain injury (TBI). “That was me proving to me that I could ride and things were going to be OK,” she said.Now Sue bikes regularly and takes part in long-distance rides. Recently, she participated in a 400-mile ride to help injured veterans. No matter where she is riding, Sue makes sure that everyone is wearing a helmet. She also shares her story to inspire other veterans to be safe and get help if they may have experienced TBI.Check out our tips for preventing TBI. For more information, download the TBI Awareness Fact Sheet from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, and read this blog post from the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.
Former Navy SEAL: “Talk to someone — because we’re out there”
Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Sept. 30, 2015
Retired Navy SEAL Ed Rasmussen began experiencing memory loss, migraines and unexpected changes in his mood — and his wife, Mary Beth, noticed it, too: “When he started losing his memory and it was getting really bad, I said, ‘What’s happening here?’”Ed sought a diagnosis at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. Testing there showed signs of multiple concussions, most likely sustained through exposure to explosions during his years in training — a common cause of TBI. The vast majority of TBIs in the military are diagnosed in noncombat settings.Once he received a diagnosis, Ed and his family benefited from improved routines — and he continues to manage his symptoms.Now Ed wants to make sure those in the military community know it is OK to ask for help and to seek treatment for a TBI. One of his close friends, he said, had been in a car accident and had also been exposed to explosions during deployments. Ed said that by the time he noticed that his friend had become more withdrawn and had other TBI symptoms, “it was too late.”“My advice is to talk to somebody. Even if it’s picking up the phone or to talk to a friend, talk to somebody you know who has one — because we’re out there,” Ed said.The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center has a variety of resources that explain — and raise awareness of — TBI. Download the Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness fact sheet to learn more.
Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Sept. 24, 2015
Service members, veterans and their families may bear the stress and confusion of living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) long before it is diagnosed. Often, family members and friends are the first to notice the signs and symptoms of a TBI and urge their loved one to seek help. Retired Navy SEAL Brian O’Rourke spent months in denial, experiencing behavior changes and having trouble sleeping, before his family and friends persuaded him to find the support that led to his TBI diagnosis.In A Head for the Future’s new video, Brian and his wife, Tammy, share the story of the challenges in their marriage and family life before Brian sought treatment for his symptoms, which included insomnia, irritability and anxiety.“If you have someone who you love and you believe may have a TBI, please encourage them to go seek help,” Tammy said. “It could be the one single thing that could save your family.”After visiting a psychologist on base and undergoing further testing, Brian was diagnosed with multiple concussions incurred through exposure to blasts during training — a common cause of TBI. The diagnosis came as something of a relief, explaining Brian’s behavior and helping his family learn how to cope with the challenges of TBI. Together, they have adjusted their daily life to help Brian manage his symptoms and continue to recover.Watch as Brian and Tammy tell their story, and see the power of a family that recognized TBI and got help. Share it in your networks to raise awareness that everyone has the power to recognize and recover from TBI.If you are a family member or caregiver of a service member or veteran with symptoms that indicate a possible TBI, download “Addressing Family Needs,” a free booklet from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, to learn more about TBI and ways to build stronger family ties, improve communication and more.