I Want my Brain Back Forward!

I am feeling really inspired after attending some sessions at SXSW Interactive Festival here in Austin this week.

I did a mentor session with Nancy Currie, a life coach, from Toronto.   My intuition told me to pick a session with her.

I told her that the title and magazine article from The Washingtonian is still really meaningful to so many people.

It has helped them validate their experiences and know that they are not alone.

It was published in 2007 and still helps people 7 years later.


I am so appreciative to Sherri Dalphonse, the editor who did a superb job framing the title and writing the article.

As my own recovery has moved forward, so has my advocacy.

And as my advocacy for people with brain injury has moved forward,  I have realized that I don’t really want my brain back.

Yes, you read that right.

Like everyone else, I want my brain to be moving forward.

That is to say, when I lost my brain (as I knew it) after the concussion during my car accident in 1997, I began to think I would never have my brain again.

Especially because I did NOT get to appropriate rehabilitation treatments for many years.

What I have come to realize is that my brain couldn’t move forward from that trauma without all the appropriate rehabilitation that professionals at the top of the brain injury field already knew about, but that I did not get to in Washington DC for reasons I still do not completely understand.

Eventually, over many many years, I found the appropriate treatments in a very piecemeal fashion.  I also had to discover a lot about recovery on my own.

Slowly I learned to describe what was wrong with me better and eventually how to advocate better for the treatments I needed.

My early treatments of vision therapy may have been some part of the reason why I could begin to describe what was wrong better.   None of the doctors I went to at the time understood or appreciated the value of the vision therapy.

Through a lot of struggle and hard work I eventually found health professionals who understood what was wrong including some of the doctors I was already seeing.

I thought it was me who had such a hard time finding the right professionals who could help me.

What I have learned in my advocacy is that it happens all over the U.S. (and most other countries).

It happens all the time, in 2014, that people with concussions who need help are not getting the treatment they need to get better.

If people with concussion/mild traumatic brain injury cannot get to the right treatments, they cannot get back to work!

Years and years after my injury, I understand that just like anyone else, we with brain injuries want our brains to move FORWARD.

And we need help getting our brains and ourselves past the medical trauma to the place our brain’s can cognitively move forward just like every one else’s.

Natalie Currie suggested my motto ought to be “I Want my Brain Back Forward!”     

And that is why I named my blog A Plastic Brain.   Because I wanted to talk about neuroplasticity–the brain’s ability to change and get better.    It was the possibility that my brain could change that gave me HOPE.

And with HOPE, I found my brain could change.

And know I recognize that what those of us with persistent symptoms after concussion really want to know about and experience again is neuroplasticity.   Our brain’s ability to change and learn again.   Many of us can get there if we can just get the appropriate treatments.

I am still learning how to post, so I cannot figure out how to cross out the “Back” in the title that way right now.    I will ask someone about how to do it and update my post when I can.

Have you experienced neuroplasticity in your own life?   Please share your experiences with neuroplasticity after brain injury so that we can get the word out and give hope to others.

One thought on “I Want my Brain Back Forward!

  1. In 1980, as a psychology trainee at the VA, I dedicated my career to giving people their brains back. But I did not know how. I interned at America’s first brain injury program hoping to learn from them, but they did not know how either. Their famous director told me that a group in Israel had figured out how, and later he got me a job with them. But even they could not give the people their brains back. As far as I know, no one ever has given someone else back their old brain after it got damaged. Nor has someone’s brain ever fixed itself back to normal. Over the years, I met hundreds of survivors who are waiting for their brain to fix itself back to normal. That is the bad news.

    The good news is that the Israelis could do something even more amazing. They taught survivors to fix their own brains. We call it self-therapy. You describe yourself as a self-therapist. It is just amazing how well self-therapy works. You are the agent of change. You are the one who gets the job done. Not your brain or your therapist.

    Maybe it sounds like I am nitpicking, but it seems to take the person deciding “I am going to deal with my brain” for things to begin to go right. No more waiting and wishing. Figure out why you mess up. Figure out how to make it stop. Keep trying solutions until you find a good one. As you know, THAT works wonders.

    Thank you for the immense service you perform for our community. Most survivors have no idea that they have more recovery potential, let alone the power to go forward to a great new life.

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