• Educator Spreads the Word About TBI Recovery in the Last Frontier
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Sept. 24, 2019
    When Patty Raymond Turner saw a job posting for a Regional Education Coordinator (REC) in Alaska with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), she got tingles.“It was a perfect fit,” she said. “This was the job for me.”A former schoolteacher, a volunteer crisis counselor and the daughter of a Navy veteran, Raymond Turner had long found her passion in empowering others. Seven years after becoming an REC, she is thriving at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), working with service members, veterans and their families to help them prevent, recognize and recover from traumatic brain injury (TBI).RECs play a unique role in TBI treatment. They work in collaboration with medical providers to help educate veterans, service members and their families about preventing, recognizing and recovering from TBI.“This is the most gratifying job I’ve had, ever, throughout my career,” Raymond Turner said. “I love providing information and support so they’re able to take a deep breath and go, ‘Oh! I’m going to be OK.’”At JBER, she works with patients on the path to recovery, helping them manage symptoms, navigate treatment and get the care they need. She’s often the first to step in when a service member or veteran thinks they might need help. However, the symptoms of TBI aren’t always visible or obvious. So part of Raymond Turner’s mission as an REC is to reach out to those who might not know that they have a TBI.  Raymond Turner is responsible for providing education and support to residents of the two most remote states, Hawaii and Alaska — bringing challenges in raising awareness. Especially in Alaska, where many people live in far-flung areas with limited or no internet connectivity, she gets creative in raising awareness of TBI prevention and recovery resources.“Sometimes the only media these communities can access out there is National Public Radio,” Raymond Turner said. “I’m doing an interview with the radio station about TBI in the military, and where to go for help.”She also brings personal experience with a head injury. In 1982, before helmets were recognized as the critical safety features they are today, she had a cycling accident when her bike malfunctioned, and she sustained a mild TBI. While she made a full recovery with the right treatment and rest, she became an ardent advocate of wearing protective gear while being active.“You better believe that after that accident, I hunted down a bicycle helmet and have worn one ever since,” she said.All her experiences fuel Raymond Turner’s passion for her work — especially the reward of changing someone’s outlook and helping them through recovery.“A lot of times, service members or veterans who are dealing with this may feel very alone, and I’m here to empower them to get help,” she said. “It’s so heartening to be a part of that process.”To learn more about TBI and the A Head for the Future initiative, and to find additional videos and educational resources on preventing brain injury, visit dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture, and follow A Head for the Future on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Educator with Close Military and TBI Ties Uses Progressive Methods to Inform Others About TBI Care
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Sept. 19, 2019
    Jessica Huckabay has been around the military community in one way or another since she was a toddler. Both her father and grandfather served in the Navy for several years, and she served as a cadet in an Air Force ROTC unit at the University of California, Berkeley.Fast forward several years, and she is still immersed in the military world — this time, as a Regional Education Coordinator (REC) in Palo Alto, California, with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. In her role, she informs service members, veterans, and their families about traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the resources available to support their recovery journey; one of those families is her own.Before Huckabay was born, her father was severely injured in a motorcycle crash. A skull fracture affected his frontal lobe and resulted in a TBI. Amazingly enough, several months later he recovered from the crash and returned to work.Huckabay’s cousin-in-law, who resides in Sweden, suffered a head injury when she fell and hit her head. Her doctors concluded she had sustained a TBI, but the medical staff was unable to properly support her during her recovery. So, she relied heavily on Huckabay and DVBIC for information and resources on TBI to speed her recovery process.As a Regional Education Coordinator at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, Huckabay plays an integral role in the recovery of patients like her family members. She shares vital details on TBI-related educational programs through her “TBI 101” talks, as well as available prerecorded webinars about gender differences in TBI recovery and useful information from the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.Huckabay’s personal connections with TBI drive her to keep exploring creative avenues to reach and inform people who have experienced TBI.“I’m pretty good at going online to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms to spread the word,” Huckabay said. “That’s one of the ways I advise. I also go to military bases to speak and get the important information out that way.”Huckabay realizes active-duty service members, and veterans who have recently left the military may not be completely aware of the resources available to them.“As a Regional Education Coordinator, my job is to ensure they have the information they need to make positive decisions and take care of their families,” Huckabay said. “Since they serve the country, we should be giving back to them by equipping them with the resources they need to thrive.”If Huckabay could share multiple pieces of helpful advice to someone who may have sustained a TBI, it would be this: “Educate yourself, research what’s going on, and get checked by your primary care physician immediately to get the care you need.”To learn more about the DVBIC network, services, and locations, visit dvbic.dcoe.mil/locations.
  • Relocated Military Spouse Finds New Passion in Brain Fitness
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Sept. 17, 2019
    When Emily Childs’ husband received military orders to transfer from El Paso, Texas to Fort Drum, New York, her life changed in many unexpected ways. In addition to adjusting to a cooler climate, about 30 miles south of the Canadian border in a rural and picturesque area of upstate New York, she embarked on a new career that directly impacted the military community.Back in El Paso, Childs was a licensed athletic trainer with a focus on sports-related concussions. While studying exercise science and kinesiology at the University of Texas, she quickly developed a passion for concussion care and how traumatic brain injuries (TBI) affect the brain. She eventually worked her way up to teaching sports medicine at a local high school while advocating for raising awareness of TBI.When she arrived at Fort Drum, Childs was determined to pursue her passion and work in a similar field. She saw an opening at the installation’s Medical Department Activity TBI clinic for a regional education coordinator (REC) — who informs service members, veterans, their families and providers about TBI symptoms, care, and additional resources. She knew it would be a great career path for her.“Coming up to Fort Drum was a massive adjustment,” said Childs. “But becoming an REC with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), especially with my background in concussion care and awareness … it was perfect.”As a REC, Childs mainly focuses on pre-deployment briefs for the Army and TBI education. Given the cold weather, she also specializes in education on preventing TBI in harsh conditions.“I try to do as much winter safety as possible,” Childs said. “We’ll have cars in ditches, slips and falls on ice, and winter activity injuries due to the crazy winters up here.”Since the TBI clinic is an ambulatory care clinic, which has limited resources, she relies heavily on the community services such as area hospitals to help raise awareness of the clinic’s resources and effective treatment for TBI.“A lot of people aren’t aware that we have a TBI clinic here; they also may not know enough about brain injury to know their symptoms were TBI-related,” she said. “Because of that, we see a light flash in their head once they realize it is related.”Becoming a REC is Childs’ way of giving back to the military community she’s been part of her entire life, including being married to a sergeant in the Army.“My whole family is military. My father was in the Marine Corps for 26 years, my father-in-law was in the Army for 24 years and my grandparents were both military. It’s been around me consistently,” Childs said.Ultimately, she hopes the stigma that some people in the military associate with reporting their TBI symptoms won’t hold them back from getting the treatment they need.“Anytime you suspect a possible TBI, seek treatment right away. Even if you aren’t diagnosed, it’s never too late to seek help,” Childs said.To learn more about TBI and the A Head for the Future initiative, and to find additional videos and educational resources on preventing brain injury, visit dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture, and follow A Head for the Future on Twitter and Facebook