28. Connecting after brain injury: Conference reflections

October 14, 2022
The TBI Therapist Podcast with Dr. Jen Blanchette

I was over the moon after attending the 13th annual Defining Moments in Brain Injury Conference in my home state of Maine. There is just something magical about meeting with other providers, survivors, and caregivers. In this episode, I share my big takeaways from the conference, including some mind-blowing info on modern concussion care!

More from Jen www.tbitherapist.com. I provide therapy in 34 states in the US with Psypact https://psypact.site-ym.com/page/psypactmap as well as Neuro-coaching for brain health and optimization for leaders and professionals. Schedule a consult today!


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Speaker 0 00:00:00 This week on the podcast, I’m talking about my reflections from attending the 13th annual Defining Moments in Brain Injury conference. It was great, honestly, it was just great to be with people and other professionals who do similar work in the field. Also, I get a ton out of being with survivors and understanding firsthand what they’re thinking, feeling, and hearing their story. So I hope you’ll listen to some of my reflections, some of the information. I always learn something new cuz there’s always new research coming out and other professionals do different things than I do. So it’s always exciting to hear new information going on in the field. I wanted to let you know that I was recently approved for CY a, so I am seeing people in 34 states in the United States for assessment and counseling after brain injury. So if you’re someone who might be interested in counseling after brain injury, certainly check out if I work with one of the states that you live in and book a consult.
Speaker 0 00:01:08 So that link is right in the show notes. And you can also go to tbi therapist.com to see, uh, to book that consult directly. You can also go to tbi therapist.com if it’s not working for whatever reason or you’re driving and you can’t like click on anything. That’s tbi therapist.com to book a consult. I also provide coaching for leaders and professionals for neuro coaching, for brain optimization and brain health. So if you’re a leader or a professional and you just need some assistance on being the best that you can be from a brain health perspective, I have a lot of strategies and resources for you. Okay, let’s get to the episode. Hi everyone. Welcome to the TBI Therapist podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jen Blin chat where we explore the heart of brain injury.
Speaker 0 00:02:12 Hey, hey y’all. It’s Dr. Jen and I. I did y’all, I’m from Virginia originally, so I, I did it. Okay, so I wanna come on and talk about why you should go to a concussion or a brain injury conference. It doesn’t matter if you’re a survivor, a provider, a caregiver, anyone in the world of brain injury I think really should go to a conference. And I’m fired up because I just came back from our local one in Maine and it was just wonderful. Three years of covid and not being with someone in a conference. It was my first in person one and it did not disappoint at all. I’ll actually tell you a story one one year. It’s not really a long story, it’s just a little snippet, but one year I forgot to register for the brain injury conference in Maine and I didn’t get to go and I literally cried because I just get so much out of it.
Speaker 0 00:03:13 With being with other passionate providers and hearing from survivors, just hearing their stories is a big part of the reason that I go to those conferences. And if I’m reflecting on some of the reasons I started this podcast, it was for you to hear the stories of other survivors because I know it can be just so isolating to not understand what other people are going through. So hearing their stories can be super helpful. So I wanted to highlight a couple of those stories that I heard. So Kelly Lang was one of those people I hope to have her on the podcast. We actually hung out a good bit at the conference. She came to my talk, I spoke about anxiety and brain injuries and I’ll, I’ll certainly do that one on here. I don’t think I’ve talked about anxiety specifically, so I might do just an episode on that. I’d be interested to know, like what do you wanna hear most about regarding anxiety and concussion or brain injury? So Kelly Lang’s book is the Miracle Child Traumatic Brain Injury and Me, So Kelly and Michael Lang share their alternating and unique thoughts over days and years following the tragic car incident that fractured their family and their lives revealing the power, persistence, faith acceptance, and above all, commitment to family.
Speaker 0 00:04:39 So she really talked about that story of her daughter and she was in a car accident herself, so she was, she had injuries that she sustained in the process of her daughter at the time who was three going through school and recovering from a tbi. So just an excellent book. She kind of gives in the book, it’s an account, so it’s kind of a detailed, it has pictures and just moments from her story. I’m flipping through it as I talk to you and I, I’m looking forward to dig into it and hopefully have Kelly laying on the program. We, um, also share like the Northern Virginia connection. I I grew up in northern Virginia in the DC metro area, so she’s also from there. So that’s, that’s pretty cool. So there was a main couple that talked a little bit, um, and gave our memorial lecture, which was Guy and Sue Pilot, I think that’s how you pronounce it.
Speaker 0 00:05:35 And I loved their, I loved their story. So Guy, uh, actually hiked the Appalachian Trail after, you know, his, I think he was, I think he had a tbi, maybe he had a stroke. Okay, maybe I wasn’t listening and I was listening too much to the Appalachian Trail part of it. So certainly they can speak to their story but um, maybe it was a stroke. Anyways, I’m not gonna quote, if they come on the program, they can certainly share their story. So Sue spoke mostly through that because guy’s speech, uh, is impaired and so she mostly told that story but she told the story of guy hiking the Appalachian Trail, his name was Bilbo on the Appalachian Trail and made it all the way to Maine. And I don’t wanna give away, I don’t wanna give the spoilers for that story because it’s really so good and I, I have to have you guys hear that story because it really is, is amazing and they should write a book and really have more people hear it. So they’re, they’re a local main couple and I think I’m gonna have them on cuz it was great.
Speaker 0 00:06:42 I also wanted to share a little bit of Dr ER’s modern stroke care talk. So I was really blown away. So I uh, I see I’ve seen through the years folks with stroke or aneurysm many times and uh, you know, I, there’s always more to learn about that. Always, always so much more to learn. So I was gonna bring up some information of the things that he shared.
Speaker 0 00:07:14 So he talked a little bit about research on acute ischemic stroke and just backing out a little bit. So the different types of stroke are ischemic stroke, which is 87% of all strokes. That’s most likely what’s gonna happen, which occurs when a blood vessel supplying the blood to the brain is obstructed. So specifically fatty deposits lining vessel walls are the main cause for ischemic stroke. And there’s two types. So there’s cerebral theosis. Theosis is basically a blood clot clot that develops a fatty plaque within the blood cell vessel, rather cerebral embol. Cerebral embolism is a blood clot that forms at another location in the circulatory system, usually the heart or the lung arteries and the upper chest or neck and part of the blood clo breaks loose and enters the bloodstream and then travels through the brain’s blood vessels until it reaches vessels too small to let it pass. So gonna go back just a second where it was.
Speaker 0 00:08:23 So majority of your strokes are ischemic and that is the bulk of his research. Uh, but there are other types. So there is a hemorrhagic stroke or a brain bleed is when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and there’s two types of that which are aneurysms and arteri venous malformations or AVMs. And it’s the most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke is is due to uncontrolled high blood pressure. There’s also other forms that I’m not gonna get into like a mini-stroke or a t i a transient ischemic attack. So I won’t get into all of the types of stroke, but that’s the majority of them. And what we see, what was really interesting, what he talked about was what I knew before that if you have a stroke time is of the essence. Time is the most important thing. And I thought, okay, yes. You know, certainly get them there as soon as possible.
Speaker 0 00:09:23 Knowing some of the signs of stroke I think is super important. So, So that acronym for warning signs is the acronym fast. So face drooping is to one side, is it numb asking the person to smile and looking if the smile is uneven, that’s the f a is arm weakness. So one arm is weak or numb. So you can ask the person to rose, raise both arms, does one arm drift downward? And an S is speech difficulty, is there speech slurred or altered T is time to call 9 1 1 So fast again, I’ll go over them briefly. Facial drooping a arm weakness, s speech difficulty and t time to call 9 1 1. And I think that it’s important to go over these for anyone who’s had a concussion or a TBI cuz they are more vulnerable to having a stroke. And if you’ve had one stroke you are also more vulnerable to having another one.
Speaker 0 00:10:29 So just important, important to know that. So it’s important to realize that stroke is that now the fifth leading cause of death, it’s gone down I think because there has been some advances in modern stroke care. So that is really, really great that we’re hearing now that we are improving our treatment of strokes. Okay, so one of the cool things that I learned and some of it was really unsettling I would say, because I think Dr. Ecker talked a little bit about the breakdown in our EMS system, our emergency response system, and that if time is the most important thing for someone to get a recovery from their stroke or to get treatment rather from their, from their stroke, then we need to get them to the hospital basically as soon as possible. However, not all hospitals have comprehensive stroke care. So in our state, the state of Maine in the US and I don’t know other, I know some of you are listening in other countries, so you can hopefully look this up in your country to see if there is a comprehensive stroke center in your country, but it’s not available everywhere.
Speaker 0 00:11:45 So I just wanna put that point that out that it may not be accessible but still getting to the hospital and receiving some care is gonna your best bet. But here in Maine we have a Maine health telestroke network and they will, someone who is a stroke expert can get onto the telehealth with you in the emergency department from another hospital. And I’m assuming maybe there’s something internationally that you could teleconference. I, I don’t know if this is, this is just a question. I’m like, could you do that internationally? Certainly look in your country if they have that, if you can do telehealth with a stroke expert if you’re at the hospital, that would be interesting for me to know. So anyways, what they’re gonna do there is get you the time sensitive medical attention. So help the ED department, emergency department, I know it’s called something different in other countries, work with the hospital to give them the appropriate treatment and so they’re gonna assess using the teleconferencing system system.
Speaker 0 00:12:56 They maybe moved to another hospital for more care. The interesting part in the modern stroke care that I didn’t realize was happening either cuz it was probably after my training, is that researchers are using stents more to open the artery and to remove the blood clot now. So doctors saying the typical standard of care for ischemic stroke is the use of an anti-clotting medication known as tissue plasma gen activated or tpa. So that’s what is do done most places. But researchers concluded that doctors had more success using stents and he presented that research of that in the talk that he, that I sat in these studies were done and showed that the mortality had been essentially stuck for the last 20 years at 20% for this kind of stroke. And it was cut in half with this technique to around nine to 10%. So we essentially have more than two thirds of people who are going home independent after rehabilitation, which is huge.
Speaker 0 00:14:03 So that was a quote from Dr Er from our local paper if you have, I think one of the things he said was, if you have access to a comprehensive stroke hospital near you to know where that is. So if time is most important, knowing where to go is important. And also going to a hospital that has the technology that could do the most intervention for you. So that was, I I was just kind of blown away and there’s, there’s a lot of words he says that I’m like, okay, I need to look that up. Which is always fun. It’s always fun to feel like I don’t know this stuff. That’s cool though. All right, so that was one of the talks I attended.
Speaker 0 00:14:48 So interestingly there’s a new, or I don’t know how long this company’s been around, but it’s called Rehab Without Walls and in neuro solutions and in our state of Maine and looks like in the US there’s many states. There’s ones, there’s locations in Alaska, in Arizona, California, there’s several. Georgia, Maine of course we have a lot in Maine. Okay, Maine, Go ahead. <laugh>, Michigan. Lots of different one in Canada as well. So Ontario, Ontario, Canada, near Niagara. Cool. So I heard a talk based on their services. So what I thought was really cool is that you could have rehab brought to your home and I didn’t realize this was a thing. So I guess I thought in my mind, you know, I, I know that there’s some inpatient PT inpatient services that people can have after a surgery, but I guess they’re, they’re starting to do these for brain injury rehabilitation. So I thought that it was great that they can come right into your home, assemble your interdisciplinary team that you need and be overseen by a physician or a physiatrist to help get you the best outcomes. So I would definitely check them out and see if there is a location, if you’re one of those locations that they service you, if that would be a good fit for you.
Speaker 0 00:16:21 So I wanted to give you a little bit of the information that was profound to me. And there were other talks that I didn’t go to cuz I was presenting one of those talks and there was, there was all kinds of things that were survivor track. They have different tracks, you know, actually anyone can go to anything, but some were survivor specific, so some might be on just tips for, from a survivor to a survivor. Other things were kind of tailored by an occupational therapist gave a presentation, there was a puzzle activity if you just, your brain was done and you were like, okay, we’re just gonna do a puzzle for the last one. Yeah. So I think, you know, we do better when we work together in the world of brain injury. So I would encourage you to be part of that knowledge and be part of an active squeaky wheel in your recovery because it really takes a lot of tenacity to get through this. So I hope this was helpful and I hope to share some of my passion that I just was invigorated by going to this conference. And I didn’t even add all the conversations that I had at the conference, but I actually saw someone that I see in, have seen on Instagram. Catherine no, who’s a speech therapist is in Maine and I saw her personally in the in, in the Flash, which was really exciting. So I hope this was helpful.
Speaker 3 00:17:57 Thank you for joining us today on the TBI Therapist podcast. Please visit tbi therapist.com for more information on brain injury, concussion and mental health. The information shared on today’s podcast is intended to provide information, awareness, and discussion on the topic. It is not clinical or medical advice. If you need mental health or medical advice, please seek a professional.


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