BY: STELLA SLOAN
Long-time BIST members probably know Steve gregory, a former BIST board member and TBI survivor, who has now completed a second book on his thoughts on life after brain injury rehabilitation. Steve also started a nonprofit called After rehabilitation after acquired brain injury.
I read both of Steve Gregory books, The journey - tips and stories and TThe journey continues. His memoir reveals that Steve developed psychosis as a teenager, which went undiagnosed and untreated for years. On June 2, 1999, at the age of 36, Steve was in a truck accident that resulted in traumatic brain injury (TBI). As a result, Steve needed a wide variety of therapies to achieve the best possible result. He has managed to be resilient after these major medical transitions in his life. How he was able to accept, thrive and redefine certain areas of his life after acquiring these medical conditions and diagnosis is the basis of his books.
Shortly thereafter, medical and rehabilitation professionals determined that Steve could not return to work, which angered him greatly. However, when I asked Steve if he was missing his job, he replied, "No, I have much more important things to offer."
After Steve's truck crash, his paranoia was forcibly reduced, by the accident and by the subsequent care of medical staff. Steve was in a wheelchair and he had no knowledge. His medical care and therapy began. His goal was recovery. Steve realizes that his recovery journey has taught him a lot. Through his personal experiences, Steve strongly recommends stimulating your brain on a daily basis. “Use whatever idle time you have available to improve your brain,” Steve says.
For Steve, some of the learning curves during formal rehabilitation and self-rehabilitation are as follows:
- Set achievable goals, no matter how small.
- Focus on what the survivor can do, not what the survivor can do.
- Think about it, using your long-term memory first, then your short-term and working memory.
- Self-congratulations are necessary.
- Use your personal motivation.
- Focus on expanding your self-awareness.
- Exercise! (Steve likes to run at Achilles Club and the comaraderi he shares with others there.)
- Be of service to others.
- Be your own cheerleader.
- "Optimize your day before it happens." Analyze, organize and plan, plan, plan!
- Relax and be patient with yourself.
- Have a hobby.
- Write (agenda, lists, tasks and daily reflections)
- Humor is a must!
These suggestions, Steve thinks, all help progress with several executive functions: memory, problem solving, reasoning, thinking, decision making, multitasking, and connecting neutrons. All of this progress then leads to greater self-awareness and greater self-esteem.
Steve says that after a brain injury, every individual goes through a form of rebirth. It is necessary to make the most of this second chance in life, despite the difficulties and frustrations.
Understanding your life after an ABI is like solving a puzzle: it is a long, difficult and often boring process. However, you need to set goals, relax and unwind, and find the pleasure of rehabilitation in order to recover and regain your personality.
According to Steve's books, five things that promote healing are: eat well, sleep, exercise, have an active mind, and pray. Being persistent is the key. Be open to learning, unlearning and relearning. However, when you are tired of a problem, relax and come back to the problem later.
As a traumatic brain injury survivor, Steve has learned that we need to move from therapy that is “done for you” to “doing it for yourself and for yourself”. The best place to start is to relearn how to think. Rehabilitation is no easy task. Steve estimates that he spent 40 hours a week for twenty years in rehabilitation.
Other tips from Steve: use your short-term memory sparingly; there is a limit to what your brain can hold. The brain then uses its working memory to make the transition from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. Life skills are essential for re (learning) to live independently, the ultimate result! The future of an ABI survivor rests on his resources. Without sufficient resources, a person can be forgotten by society.
“It's important to be at peace with yourself, the world around you and in the presence of God,” Steve said. When asked about his advice for others with ABI, Steve said, "Be true to yourself and there are a lot of positive things you can do."
Thanks Steve for seeing the glass half full.
Steve will be a guest speaker at our November community meeting on Wednesday, November 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., where the main topic will be on Brain Injury Speaks Network. Learn more about our meeting, HERE.
Stella Sloan is an ABI survivor and member of the Brain Injury Association of Durham (BIAD) Day Program.
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Brain fitness has basic principles : variety and curiosity. When anything you do becomes deuxième nature, you need to make a change. If you can do the crossword puzzle in your sleep, it’s time for you to move on to a new challenge in order to get the best workout for your brain. Curiosity about the world around you, how it works and how you can understand it will keep your brain working fast and efficiently. Use the ideas below to help attain your quest for mental fitness.
Brain sport programs and games are a wonderful way to tease and challenge your brain. Suduko, crosswords and electronic games can all improve your brain’s speed and memory. These games rely on logic, word skills, math and more. These games are also fun. 1
You’ll get benefit more by doing these games a little bit every day. Spend 15 minutes or so, not hours.
Daily meditation is perhaps the solo greatest thing you can do for your mind/body health. Meditation not only relaxes you, it gives your brain a workout. By creating a different esprit state, you engage your brain in new and interesting ways while increasing your brain fitness.
Your brain needs you to eat saine fats. Focus on fish oils from wild salmon, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as flax seed and olive oil. Eat more of these foods and less saturated fats. Eliminate transfats completely from your diet.
Stories are a way that we solidify memories, interpret events and share instants. Practice telling your stories, both new and old, so that they are interesting, compelling and fun. Some basic storytelling techniques will go a long way in keeping people’s interest both in you and in what you have to say.