Tag Archives: brain injury

Linda W Arms gives a very good overview of ‘learning to live with ABI’

 I can successfully manage one thing at a time.   It is because I have a brain injury that I can no longer multi-task in the ways I did before my injury.  C

These days I can recognise several things that need to be taken care of, like a birthday coming up, having someone over for dinner, taking care of a personal business matter and a lot of other small matters.   The problem is that I can’t work with a multiple of these things at the same time without difficulty and feeling  CONTINUE READING HERE

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Peta Ferguson President Brain Injury Matters

Peta Ferguson President Brain Injury Matters

Hi, my name is Peta Ferguson and I have an acquired brain injury (ABI). My presentation today will be a combination of PowerPoint and the spoken word. I’m not silly enough to think you’ll understand every word so you’ll probably need the screen to get the main points. Of-course you can ask anything, anything at all at the end of the presentation. You can get an ABI from any number of ways; eg. a coward’s punch, disease, anything that negatively affects the brain after birth. The long-term effects differ widely; from being stuck in a wheelchair unable to talk to appearing totally ‘normal’. I didn’t have a car accident, a fall, was beaten up or have a stroke; no, I took a deliberate overdose of prescription medication when I was 24. I didn’t think of possible consequences, I just wanted out. Why? I don’t know. My parents were both doctors, I lived in a nice house, went to a good school where I did well and had lots of friends. Later I went to Melbourne Uni where I did Arts/Law. I must say I am happier now than immediately before the OD but I certainly don’t recommend trying it. It took thirty years (with a couple of exceptions) of deeply depressing crap to get to this point, and thirty years is a long time. Let me tell you how I got to this point: As I said I had a really easy time at school; I was a house captain, leader of the school orchestra and I had no problems academically. In year 12 there were rumblings that all was not right – twice, just for a few weeks at a time, I was admitted to psychiatric hospital for depression, but it wasn’t too earth-shattering and I think the general consensus was teenage problems and I’d grow out of it. I did quite well in my final exams and went straight to uni. The freedom went to my head and studying was out of the question. I dropped out during my first year, went straight back the following year and dropped out again. (There were no such things as fees.) A0fter I left the second time, I did a series of soul-destroying jobs (for me) – mainly bar-tending. I then decided I wished to get away and hitch-hiked out of Melbourne. I remember getting to Adelaide and tossing a coin; heads for WA and tails for NT. It was tails so I headed up the Stuart Highway to Darwin. Now it is far too dangerous but back then it was less so and ignorance is bliss. I hitched a lift with a truckie just out of Alice Springs and about twelve hours further on he stopped at a place called Daly Waters and said he was turning off the main highway and traveling inland for about three hours to a cattle station called McArthur River. I had no burning desire to see Darwin at that stage so I went too. I was welcomed at the station and immediately employed as a governess for six kids aged from five to fourteen. I only got the job because I had completed year 12, I wasn’t a great teacher, there were a lot of swimming lessons. I also worked as a meat worker at night; they had an abattoir on the station. Back then I tied the best sausages, not any more – fine movement problems. There’s a quick story I must relate; I’m quite sure it wouldn’t happen now – we’re talking ages ago. I drove into the local aboriginal town, Borraloola, a couple of hours drive away. I said to the local cop “I want my license”. He asked me how I got to Borraloola and when I told him I drove I got my full license for three years for $3. No P’s. After a few months I grew bored – my father flew up and picked me up. Back in Melbourne a guy I’d met on the station came down and asked me to move in with him. He came on a motor bike with a mate, both wearing leathers and beards. One look at my mother’s horrified face and I said “sure”. (I’d hate to have me for a daughter.) I lived with him for three years, again doing what I now view as soul-destroying jobs, eg. waitressing and bar-tending. Then we split. I had the travel bug again only this time I drove, as far north into Queensland as I could go before the car carked it. I wound up in a place called Cunnamulla, a few hundred kms west of Brisbane. There were three pubs in town and I worked at all of them. I kept my dog behind the bar, anyone getting too friendly had the dog to deal with. I was twenty-four but still that big ogre of depression sometimes made its presence felt. I tried to gas myself; I’m not sure what happened next, one of the locals must have contacted my family. My sister drove up, collected me and I was admitted to a looney-bin in Melbourne. Even there I was a social butterfly, ingratiating myself with people but certainly not developing any meaningful connections. A couple of months down the track I took ‘THE BIG OD’. Events immediately following are a bit hazy. I think I was in general hospital for about one month – I wasn’t in a coma, just stupefied and totally non-communicative. I didn’t talk for four years or walk for five years. After general hospital I was admitted to Caulfield Rehab. As you can imagine I wasn’t full of joy, life was over for me. To hammer home the point my boyfriend at the time visited me with his new girlfriend and brought me a giant pink teddy- bear because he thought of-course my mind had gone along with my speech and my ability to walk. (Please be very mindful of this when interacting with someone who doesn’t speak and is in a wheelchair. Steven Hawking is a good example.) I was quite resigned to rotting in Caulfield but for some mysterious reason about one year later I was transferred to M7, the brain trauma unit at Mont Park Psychiatric Hospital. It has since been pulled down. It was declared unfit for human habitation ten years before I was admitted so I wasn’t living in luxury. I spent the next five years in this place so I have clear memories. I shall describe the layout and my usual daily routine. M7 was one of many separate buildings sitting on the outskirts of a large treed oval. (The buildings were hideous but the grounds were magnificent.) M7 was a little brick building, locked to prevent people going AWOL. There were fifteen male ‘patients’ and three females. Because there were so few girls our beds were put at one end of the covered-in veranda and separated from the main space, the lounge-room which had the TV going 24/7, by a sliding screen. This proved to be a problem; there was a blind guy who could walk, he used to tap his way along the veranda, push past the sliding screen, lie down on the first bed he came to (mine) and promptly piss on it. As I didn’t walk and was transferred to a stationary chair during the day I had to feel my bed just before I got into it each night. My daily routine; I was woken at 8, showered, breakfasted and then put in front of the TV. My day was broken up by regular bouts of physiotherapy, I also had weekly sessions with a psychologist and a speech therapist for a few years and at that stage I didn’t even emit a squeak! One inmate whom I absolutely loathed (I think this was partial motivation for me walking and talking – I wanted to get away from him) owned the only TV so we had to watch what he wanted to watch. ‘Here’s Humphrey’ was on thirty years ago. That and the cricket; I wasn’t a fan then but now I’m really keen. I was a captive audience, unable to walk away. In my fifth year in Mont Park I was walking and talking. A visiting Christian couple fell in love with me, thought I’d be a great charitable project and offered me a room in a share house. I repaid that belief by hoarding all my medication for one year and taking yet another OD. No negative physical consequences this time but I again was admitted to Mont Park, this time a purely psychiatric ward. I was sitting in the lobby with a few other patients. A guy was brought in flanked by two psychiatric nurses. One of the patients said “He can’t be brought in here – he’s a psych nurse himself”. I couldn’t help myself “He’s got as much right to be looney as anyone else.” From then on we were friends and eventually after both exiting hospital we moved in together. One year on, his ex-wife and mother to his three sons, handed full custody to us. I found it ok having an instant family, though the four year old was at that stage just strange. Several years and bulk appointments later he was diagnosed as having Aspergers, a form of autism. We married in 1990 (?) and six years later I had a biological child who is now 19. In 1999 we decided to call it quits and since the total absence of kids (youngest at school) I decided to do something for me and commenced studying Cert IV in Disability. There I heard about the existence of Brain Injury Matters, a group, the only one of its kind in Australia, possibly the world. It is what is called a ‘self- advocacy group’, in other words by grouping together we learn and become empowered, able to speak up for ourselves. I joined BIM in 2004, now I’m the president. BIM has really helped me find my voice; when I first left the institution I was so paranoid being heard in public I used to hand shopkeepers typewritten notes with a list of things I wanted. Now I’m giving presentations. My existence now is pretty good but as I said at the beginning I had to go through thirty years of crap to reach this stage and when I say ‘crap’ I mean it.


Quita Docking (right) pictured with best friend Cody Hollingsworth before her accident. (Supplied: Gladys Docking)

It’s the silent, unspoken killer amongst us, striking from nowhere, changing everything in a single heartbeat.

The rugby tackle that was too high. A joyride gone awry. An accident on the farm. Simply running out of luck.

Acquired brain injury is the leading killer of people under 45 years in Australia. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE


Michael Schumacher in 2012. The German driver was a major donor behind the creation of the Brain and Spine Institute in Paris

Car racing, and particularly Formula One, is being increasingly scrutinized because of head injuries linked to the absence of adequate safety measures. But at the same time, Formula One’s greatest gifts to society at large could turn out to be medical, scientific and technological advances in brain and spine medicine.

Decades of research by the International Automobile Federation, or F.I.A., the sport’s governing body, have led to safety requirements that have saved many lives. But most recent deaths in motor sports have resulted from head injuries to drivers exposed in open cockpits. READ THE RESULTS


Dr. Gérard Saillant, center, head of the International Automobile Federation’s medical commission, with other doctors in France after the former world champion Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident in 2013


Recent research indicates that the adult brain can show experience-dependent recovery of neural circuits. This finding has three important implications, as follows:

  • A lack of use and stimulation of the brain, may prevent experience-dependent recovery.
  • People may develop secondary or additional social, cognitive and behavioural disabilities.
  • Depression and other emotional disorders.

There are five common forms of recovery and adjustment following a brain injury FIND OUT MORE HERE

Amy Zellmer

A TBI is much like a fingerprint or snowflake, no two are alike.

Many “outsiders” have no idea what kind of hell we are going through. They hear the word “concussion” and think it’s not big deal. Or they hear the term “traumatic brain injury” and can only imagine the most severe (think coma, bed ridden, not able to speak or walk) and figure if we’re walking and talking then we must be doing “OK.” Neither of these scenarios are correct, and I beg of you to try to understand what we’re going through. At the very least, I offer you some suggestions on how to help us cope with this stressful and frustrating time of our life. READ MORE HERE

Chicken Soup for the Soul

From a TBI Meltdown Comes New Hope

Sometimes reality taps you on the shoulder with a velvet glove, while at other times reality hits you more like a sledge hammer.

It was on a cold, overcast November day in 2010 that a teenage driver struck me while I was cycling. My bike sustained significant damage. My bike was not the only casualty that day as my brain sustained significant damage as well. There is nothing pretty about being broadsided by a car at 30+ MPH. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE CHICKEN SOUP for the SOUL

Once we have successfully learned how to read, it continues to be easy for most of us. But for some people it can be an immense challenge. In developmental dyslexia, the process of learning to read is disrupted, while in alexia – or acquired dyslexia – brain damage can affect reading ability in previously literate adults.


Patients with pure alexia lose the ability to read fluently following injury to areas in the rear part of the left hemisphere of their brain. The curious thing is that they can still walk, talk, think, and even write like they did before their injury. They just can’t read. Not even what they have written themselves.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

This is a British article. It is also a similar story in Australia.


Employ Me (Working Title) – Press Release
BBC TWO has commissioned Employ Me (working title), a three part series from Optomen, examining the stories of unemployed people in the UK struggling to find jobs because of a neurological disability or difference. From autism and Tourette Syndrome to ADHD and Down’s Syndrome, the series will follow qualified and/or capable people – many of whom have been trying to find work for years – as they try to overcome the hurdles of their condition, change employers’ perceptions, and hopefully land a job.  CLICK TO READ MORE