While he recovered from sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after falling 50 feet during a training jump, former Staff Sergeant Brian Grundtner was missing one thing: sleep. Determined to find a solution, Grundtner went to the Concussion Care Clinic where he started therapy with licensed clinical social worker Dr. Brooke Heintz, a major in the North Carolina National Guard.
“I definitely brought up my sleep issues and how they were worse now than they were before,” Grundtner said. “I had to step forward and help myself. I had to put myself first so that I could make everybody else around me stronger.”
For those who have experienced TBI, getting enough sleep is a key element of recovery. Heintz helped Grundtner address his sleep issues and shared tools to help. Grundtner underwent sleep hygiene training and learned new ways get a good night’s sleep.
“Once I started sleeping better, I could feel myself getting better,” he said.
Heintz said she takes tremendous pride in aiding her brothers and sisters in the military community. “I think that there is a huge misperception about a referral to a behavioral health provider,” she said. “[Brian] was referred to me for sleep hygiene training.” She stressed that not everyone who seeks treatment or care is experiencing behavioral problems.
Since finishing his treatments with Heintz nearly two years ago, Grundtner has seen positive results. He graduated from an MBA program, settled into a thriving career, and got married. Grundtner said that it’s people like Heintz and his wife, Michelle, who keep him grounded in harder times.
As he continues to make progress in his recovery and cope – with the support of his wife – Grundtner offered up some words of encouragement for some of his colleagues struggling with TBI.
“[This injury] allowed me to see areas in my life that needed to be tended to,” he said. “You don’t have to say ‘well this is my new normal and I can’t change it.’ You define your normal.”
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