Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Face of Neuroplasticity

Compare it to a year before:


Keep doing your exercises. I now have lines (muscles activating) on both sides of my face. Neuroplasticity (rewiring) happened.

One side is a little weaker, but it is not noticeable unless pointed out.

This is me when  it started years earlier: 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Are You Going To Do?

Updated 3/12/2015 

Just because you now have a disability, everything isn't gone. You just have to change it some.

The  Person Centered Planning Education site takes you from the very beginning, so you may not need it all. It is set up as a self-study course. Long ago, I learned it through workshops. This can be done, and is currently being used in some areas.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Getting There

I take two steps forward and one step back. I'll eventually get there, but I'll be dancing.

"The nerve fibers from the cells were severed, but the cells themselves remained intact." Nerve cells that have not died can form new connections. It goes on to say, "The new research suggests that instead of the sudden recovery Wallis seemed to make when he began speaking and moving three years ago, he actually may have been slowly recovering all along, as nerves in his brain formed new connections at a glacial pace until enough were present to make a network."                                   

You may be able to do it one day, but not the next. That's alright. Your brain is rewiring. You can't see what is happening in the brain. When you can't do it again, try as much you can to finish. If a therapist is there, they will help you...correctly. 'You can't do it' is probably the brain making neural connections. You have started rewiring, making a groove, and you are making that groove deeper by doing it again.

Rewiring won't be fast. The person above was 19 years before it was noticed. I, myself, have taken years before notice.
The original reports are on Terry Wallis:

For more on Norman Doidge, the person who gives the tracks in the snow ("making a groove") analogy:


Tracks In The Snow (photo by Don Yegge)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What To Do All Day?

Inspired by Judah Woodard. His mother made sure his day was stimulating for him- not too much, but just enough.

When time for school is up, sometimes there is something else, sometimes there isn't. Programs after your child is out of high school is limited in some places. An adult child struck with injury may have nothing when coming home from the hospital. It may be a parent, and there is definitely nothing.

These are just some basic guidelines. You don't have to do them if you are happy with your current situation. Also, you may be happy, but want to add something. Pick this apart, and take what you want.

You will have to learn from the hospital basic care needs. Before discharge, spend an entire day with your loved one. Training may only be an hour. You can't put a whole day in an hour. By itself, the training may be inadequate. If possible, more than a day may be required of observation for the learner.

If your loved one is in school, you already do personal care needs. You can just start the day later (not too late, or this can cause disruption).

If in school, find out what they are working on. It will be much easier. Take notes. You might get ideas on making a schedule by sticking to the class schedule. Again, it may take more than a day to learn everything.

Make a general schedule ahead of time. This can be divided into morning, noon, and night. You will know "this" has to be done in the morning, "that", needs to be done at lunchtime, and then you have "this" every night. I ended up dividing my night into two parts: evening out-of-bed, and night in bed. A schedule like this is so general, it can be flexible around doctor and therapy appointments.

The caregiver might do all the home duties, but certain things can be set aside, like making the bed. This task may be set aside as a real living learning task. (The task should fit the person. This is not for someone in a wheelchair or unable to move.) This task may take a person 2 hours every morning. It doesn't have to be all the way done, or even done perfectly. A "Good try" can be said and then the caregiver can re-make the bed.

Meal prep is a good time for life skills training. Maybe they can set the table for every meal. Is there a certain cooking task that was being worked on at school? If so, continue that. Higher skill levels can work on recipes.

Laundry is good. I think I started with folding towels. One day I was given a sheet. I was just getting good at towels! Progression was also in the task. That's all I did for a half-hour; just fold. If I finished early, the nurse got more.

Other household chores are appropriate. This may entail the person tagging along with the caregiver or just starting a task. If that person can complete a task, then good. It may take twice the time, but they should do it daily. It can be re-done if necessary.

This won't even apply to some. For those who do get around, and the community has one, they do need to learn how to use the community transportation system.

Here is a map of Centers of Independent Living, Click on your state. Hopefully your community has one. Usually these places have some sort of training. That is why they are IL, or Independent Living. If not in your community, but you can get to one, ask if you can see their curriculum to give you some ideas.

With a therapist helping, this can be set up, Exercises can be done throughout the day.

Caregivers also experience a great deal of stress. Please contact your local county mental health to see if they offer support. Individual counseling and support groups help.

Don't think of this as a program. It's a way of life. You are live!

*This was completed with the help of Denise Holladay.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I'll tell You Where

I was talked about on a show. "She came back with her personality and her sense of humor....Where was her personality all those years?" (The whole talk is pretty long. It can be found on Coast To  Coat AM, but you need to be a member to listen. I just happen to be part and quoted what was needed.)

My personality has been here the whole time. Sure my sense of humor is a little wryer. I may be a little quicker to pick up the ironies of life.

All those secrets...I know them. Like that one about the Respiratory Therapist having the affair. Don't worry. I won't tell your wife...or any of the nurses. (There was more than one!) You are just one more joke. 

I know plenty of jokes now. I remember all that happened after I opened my eyes, even though I could not speak. Want to hear a story?


With humor "no matter how painful your situation might be you can survive it." I had one of the most painful. There's still some trouble, but nothing like before, when I first opened my eyes. I survived the situation.

"Humor has shown to be effective for increasing resilience in dealing with distress and also effective in undoing negative affect." I got through it, but was it at your expense? I just point out what I see. I happen to see you. What you say and do is funny?

Don't confuse communication with awareness. I was aware. I just couldn't communicate.

updated 5/11/2015
updated  4/25/2013
updated 2/10/2015

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Do It Again! ...And Again...And Again...

He picks a good activity; yoga. It specifically works on balance. That's what's needed for walking and sitting unsupported. There are other programs (like dancing, gymnastics, etc.) that work on this. He does something that all of us do- he gets back up when he falls.

The getting back up and doing it over strengthens the neural pathway. There is science in persistence! If you want to get better, do it over and over. It may be bad the first time you do it, but it gets better as you do it over and over. There may actually be growth of your neural pathway which you can't see. You may think you just did it over for nothing, but really you were making your neural wiring grow.

Some info on this man. "Meet Arthur Boorman, the star of the latest video to wow the Internet. A former paratrooper who served in the Gulf War, too many years spent jumping out of a plane left him with chronic knee and back pain—issues so severe that doctors told him he’d never walk unassisted again. And for more than a decade, Boorman believed them. But then one day he bought some videos from DDP Yoga—that’s yoga à la Diamond Dallas Page, a champion wrestler-turned-yogi—and everything changed."

Monday, January 21, 2013


Ettiquette seems to be lacking a lot with brain injury. It isn't all the time, but it seems to be quite often. Maybe because this is related to social skills. That is a big area of need. Rather than tackle that, I'll talk about an important lesson in this cartoon.

If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all.
This is big when it comes to social media etiquette. If you are leaving a comment, it is usually best to say something "nice"...or at least appropriate. APPROPRIATE doesn't mean you have to agree, just that your response is suitable.
This will not only help you now, but later, as those seeing the interaction form opinions. Be aware there are consequences to your actions. (ie. You are a business person. A socially unacceptable answer is seen by customers. They take their business elsewhere.)

It doesn't hurt to talk to your computer screen. I can use all the foul language I want. My computer answer is a smiley face :) . My computer screen won't hurt me later.

Here's a famous man dealing with computer hate mail:

 Not only is it's funny. His only response is to read those mails out loud.