Monday, October 26, 2015

How To Communicate With a Vegetable

Instructions for simple communication:

These two videos show movements. I will describe how to take the movements and use them to communicate.

To communicate you need two movements.The movement that is easier for the person to perform will be the "No" response. If it is blinking, one blink should be no. The reason for this is because a false "No" is better than a false "Yes." (Don't change mid-way. This is just confusing. Stick to what you are doing but be extra careful with "Yes"es.)

First you will teach the "No."  In the above videos, the hand appears to move easier. This will be the "No." Ask obvious "No" questions. ("Is your name [obvious wrong name]?") Let the person know she can tell you "No" by moving her hand. Keep asking "Is your name [wrong name]." You want that movement strong and true.

Once you are satisfied with the "No" movement response, you can move on to yes. In the midst of your "No" questions, throw in a "Yes." ("Is your name [correct name]?" after a few wrong name questions.) Instruct her to use the foot to tell you "yes."

You now have an interactive game you can play, an "Is your name..." game. This game can be expanded into everyday life. For example, "Change the channel?" I used this in the hospital with another "vegetable". I could change the channel on her TV. (I know...we are told vegetables don't communicate. I don't think it was known how to do it.)

Don't be discouraged if "No" takes a long time. How long did it take to get the movement? Hopefully  "No" won't be as long, but be prepared in case.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Using The Computer For Therapy

[Jennifer Stokley would like to tell you about a certain type of game that has helped her.

Most of these hidden object games are not timed. They can be performed by a person with lower motor skills such as myself.]


The computer is being used in a few ways.

Therapists are now making therapy videos. This next one is therapy on the affected arm, 

Stroke is just a type of brain injury. A lot of research is here probably due to funding. My brain injury is part stroke and part TBI. Both worlds are in one person. I don't look to one or the other. Stroke Nation has put many physical/occupational therapy videos on YouTube,

When I did start talking, I didn't get any speech therapy. I did need some advice on making the 'R' sound.

Put in "speech therapy making the [letter] sound" for your search. There's a lot of speech videos on the internet. (Some are good and some are bad. Look around.)

A popular area is brain games. Due to gaming nature, I recommend purchasing the game or belonging to a service. This little bit spent now  will save you from costly repairs later. (Downloading is the same as buying. Free is just $0.) The games that come installed on your computer are fine. As a matter of fact, some build cognitive skills. A few common ones are Solitaire-sequencing, Mah Jong-matching, Dominoes-matching, and on a new laptop, Candy Crush-recognizing patterns.

AARP offers free, computer safe, brain games on-line, Some places offer free teasers,

In the following video, a survivor tells how she is using the computer.

The true reason this Survivor posts videos! I promise!
Posted by Jennifer Stokley on Friday, September 18, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why Cry Over Spilled Juice?

Greg Costa Tbi wrote this. This beginning link goes to his Facebook page.
Why Cry Over Spilled Juice?
A Day In a Life of TBI - by Greg Costa ©

Today I headed to Walmart because I found out I could get a prescription there for four dollars which my insurance doesn't cover. On route I stopped at Nature's Food Patch, which is an organic grocery store, to pick up a juice. On my way out someone said something hysterical in the checkout lane. As I continued to walk outside I was still laughing, and then discovered, a few minutes later, that I was walking to the opposite end of the parking lot from where I had parked. Realizing that, I started to feel down, and said to myself, “gosh, it's happening again.” Well I found my car, and then someone said hello to me and asked me a question. With that distraction, I didn’t realize I had left my drink on the top of the car. 

Which meant I watched my eight-dollar meal in a cup crash and splash all over the ground.

I went back inside and up to the manager’s counter. I said, “Hi, my name is Greg Costa, and I’m a traumatic brain injury survivor and sometimes we forget to do things. My mind was in a different place and I got lost in the parking lot and then I forgot to take my juice off the top of the car and it spilled everywhere.” He said, "No problem, I'll take care of it, and please come back and see me.” 

I didn’t notice the scar on his face until later.

I went back to see him and he said, “Don't worry, it's all good. I'm a traumatic brain injury survivor myself.” He turned his head and showed me the entire line from the tip of his forehead to the back of his ear, where his skull had been opened up. 

It's amazing, empowering and healing when we, as survivors, just put it out there and create awareness by accepting our challenges, being honest, completely transparent and Naked, allowing humility and making the best of the situation at hand. 

He went on to say, “You know the manager of this store actually had an aneurysm and also suffered a brain injury.” How cool! I thought. God really knows when you don't have something, or you’re missing something, or you’re in need of something or someone on your journey, or in my case, lacking the support and understanding from my own blood family.

It’s just like God to send me down or up a path, or put people in my life exactly where and when I need them. 

It’s just like God to open a door, welcome me in and remind me that I’m NOT ALONE.

I was so excited after this encounter that I had to tell my dad, and I never made it to Walmart. Oh well, another day, another adventure. Today I was glad to forget and be ok with that, instead of beating myself up for it.   - GregCosta©

Please visit www.GregCosta.Net™ &

Click here And help Survivors in Need around the World Create Awareness by Rock the Mark™ 
Handle with LoVe™ - TBI Apparel by Survivors for Survivors

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Need...

Louis Turbeville found the following. He credits
This is a good find. Thanks Louis.

I need a lot more rest than I used to. I’m not being lazy. I get physical fatigue as well as a “brain fatigue.” It is very difficult and tiring for my brain to think, process, and organize. Fatigue makes it even harder to think.
My stamina fluctuates, even though I may look good or “all better” on the outside. Cognition is a fragile function for a brain injury survivor. Some days are better than others. Pushing too hard usually leads to setbacks, sometimes to illness.
Brain injury rehabilitation takes a very long time; it is usually measured in years. It continues long after formal rehabilitation has ended. Please resist expecting me to be who I was, even though I look better.
I am not being difficult if I resist social situations. Crowds, confusion, and loud sounds quickly overload my brain, it doesn’t filter sounds as well as it used to. Limiting my exposure is a coping strategy, not a behavioral problem.
If there is more than one person talking, I may seem uninterested in the conversation. That is because I have trouble following all the different “lines” of discussion. It is exhausting to keep trying to piece it all together. I’m not dumb or rude; my brain is getting overloaded!
If we are talking and I tell you that I need to stop, I need to stop NOW! And it is not because I’m avoiding the subject, it’s just that I need time to process our discussion and “take a break” from all the thinking. Later I will be able to rejoin the conversation and really be present for the subject and for you.
Try to notice the circumstances if a behavior problem arises. “Behavior problems” are often an indication of my inability to cope with a specific situation and not a mental health issue. I may be frustrated, in pain, overtired or there may be too much confusion or noise for my brain to filter.
Patience is the best gift you can give me. It allows me to work deliberately and at my own pace, allowing me to rebuild pathways in my brain. Rushing and multi-tasking inhibit cognition.
Please listen to me with patience. Try not to interrupt. Allow me to find my words and follow my thoughts. It will help me rebuild my language skills.

Please have patience with my memory. Know that not remembering does not mean that I don’t care.
Please don’t be condescending or talk to me like I am a child. I’m not stupid, my brain is injured and it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Try to think of me as if my brain were in a cast.
If I seem “rigid,” needing to do tasks the same way all the time; it is because I am retraining my brain. It’s like learning main roads before you can learn the shortcuts. Repeating tasks in the same sequence is a rehabilitation strategy.
If I seem “stuck,” my brain may be stuck in the processing of information. Coaching me, suggesting other options or asking what you can do to help may help me figure it out. Taking over and doing it for me will not be constructive and it will make me feel inadequate. (It may also be an indication that I need to take a break.)
You may not be able to help me do something if helping requires me to frequently interrupt what I am doing to give you directives. I work best on my own, one step at a time and at my own pace.
If I repeat actions, like checking to see if the doors are locked or the stove is turned off, it may seem like I have OCD — obsessive-compulsive disorder — but I may not. It may be that I am having trouble registering what I am doing in my brain. Repetitions enhance memory. (It can also be a cue that I need to stop and rest.)
If I seem sensitive, it could be emotional lability as a result of the injury or it may be a reflection of the extraordinary effort it takes to do things now. Tasks that used to feel “automatic” and take minimal effort, now take much longer, require the implementation of numerous strategies and are huge accomplishments for me.
We need cheerleaders now, as we start over, just like children do when they are growing up. Please help me and encourage all efforts. Please don’t be negative or critical. I am doing the best I can.
Don’t confuse Hope for Denial. We are learning more and more about the amazing brain and there are remarkable stories about healing in the news every day. No one can know for certain what our potential is. We need Hope to be able to employ the many, many coping mechanisms, accommodations and strategies needed to navigate our new lives. Everything single thing in our lives is extraordinarily difficult for us now. It would be easy to give up without Hope.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I will call them "spasms" because that is the popular thing to do now. I know these things, though as primitive neurological reflexes. I remember being told in my MA program, "work right through them." They were something to be ignored. I am only saying my spasms were primitive reflexes. I can't say this about any others. "Primitive reflexes are automatic stereotypic movements directed from the brainstem and require no cortical involvement (thought)."  

I first noticed it years ago...I reached down with my left hand, with my head turned towards my hand. I went into spasm- my left arm got tight and my head was stuck there. It didn't last. I started saying words before I left that place. I asked the Occupational Therapist if it was ATNR (asymmetrical tonic neck reflex). She was surprised I knew such a thing, but she answered 'yes.'

ATNR eventually subsided on my left side. It has taken years. Now that I'm moving my right hand, it's starting on my right. There is one that involves my legs when lying down. Is it Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR)? I had to look this one up.

If the first subsided, I hope this will, too. It may be a sign that I am doing the right exercises and to keep on doing them.

The reflexes came back after my brain injury. "Reappearance may be attributed to certain neurological conditions including, but not limited to, dementia (especially in a rare set of diseases called frontotemporal degenerations), traumatic lesions, and strokes." I would expect the reappearance of primitive reflexes if neurogenesis occurred at a low level.

Exercising shouldn't be stopped if "spasms" occur. Think of them like a sneeze. You get a tissue. You don't stop what you are doing. So let the spasm happen and keep on exercising. The same muscles exercised are usually the ones to spasm. Work right through it. Those muscles may be getting used to being used. Likewise, spasms elsewhere may be the body getting used to using those muscles. My answer would be to exercise that area, also.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Walk In the Woods

Guided imagery, also called visualization is a technique in psychology. It was used on me for pain management when I couldn't communicate. Visualization/guided imagery has many uses. 

"Visualization, or guided imagery, involves a series of relaxation techniques followed by the visualization of detailed images, usually calm and peaceful in nature. If used for treatment, the client may visualize his/her body as healthy, strong, and free of the specific problem or condition. Sessions, conducted in groups or one-on-one, are typically 20-30 minutes and may be practiced several times a week. Guided imagery has been advocated for a number of chronic conditions, including headaches, stress, high blood pressure, and anxiety."

Take a walk in the woods with your imagination, and leave the pain behind in your body....

This video can also be used for meditation/mindfulness.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Foot Circles

I could do this...make circles with my right foot. My ankle never froze up. It could have, but I did some strange exercises. I didn't know any PT ankle exercises, so I made one up. I would do that. I'd make exercises if I didn't know any.

With the affected leg make circles with your foot. First clockwise then counter-clockwise. Make 10 circles each way.

When I first started only my big toe moved. I did it every day, though. I could have sworn my foot was micro-moving! It probably  was. I kept it up every day and those micro-movements became something seen by the naked eye.