Watching Congresswomen Gabby Giffords’ resignation and farewell speech to her Congressional colleagues after President Obama’s recent State of the Union address was especially heart-warming and inspiring for people also living with brain injuries, their friends and families. The main reason was how bright, communicative, and joyful she appeared during the speech, just a year after a deranged gunman shot her and several others in Tucson, Arizona.
Many wondered, “How could she recover her cognitive functions so quickly?” “I want to know what therapies she relied on to regain her cognitive functions and positive emotional center and use myself,” many of them thought. Thousands of servicemembers are ctrrently going through a rehabilitation process after getting wounded by gunfire or a hidden land mine resulting in Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), the “invisible wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Thousands of other Americans have brain injuries from car accidents or getting hit hard in a football game.
According to the Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide, a person who has experienced a brain injury usually has trouble with several of the following things for many years: memory, headaches, problems getting organized, getting overloaded, sleep disorders, fatigue, anger and depression. For therapy, some people recovering from a BI choose to interact physically with objects (like knitting); for others, finding and processing information (like doing crossword puzzles) is rewarding; and for others, working with creative ideas (like art) works. These plus regularly interacting with one’s environment and maintaining curiosity througk hobbies is the nerve cells and heal the brain.
Because the Congresswoman did rely on some personally-suited strategies, including humor and singing, we decided to ask some members of the Brain Injury Alliance of New Mexico who, like the Congresswoman, have had above average success at recovery what they did for therapy to get well again so that others with less success might try something new and personally suited to them in order to regain wellness.
- Ga: “In addition to eating and sleeping well, using antigens to keep my immune system strong, and doing a lot of visual exercises. (There are many connections between the eye and the brain), I paint pictures because I have found that that activity requires several different parts of my brain to work together all at once.”
- C: “I put together a strategy. I now often play the guitar and sing for therapy. I feel that my speech has improved considerably because of that. In addition, I write often.”
- B: “I find going on outings (like to the Albuquerque Museum to see an exhibit) is very therapeutic and fun. I also do some bicycle race work, yoga, swim, walk my dog, hike, and read a lot. Reading out-loud is very useful for voice and pronunciation training.”
- Ge: “Daily physical exercise, meditation, and writing. I run with my dogs; I meditate while running; and then I write for an hour or two. I learned how intricately connected these three activities are when I participated in a Meditative Writing Retreat at the Norbertine Community. One of the many things I learned that day was that the almost hyperactive, effortless, and restoring mental activity I was experiencing while running was theraputic.”