Education and awareness about traumatic brain injury (TBI) comes in all different shapes and forms.
However, a special team at the University of Washington Traumatic Brain Injury Model System study (TBIMS) in Seattle, Washington, has a unique and powerful way to deliver important information about TBI to the public. Through the creation of InfoComics, the team utilizes the comic book format to deliver critical information about brain injury. The information that is portrayed in the Infocomics are an effective and innovative learning tool for everyone.
Even better, is that the key learning components of the InfoComics are based on the latest TBI research, technology, strategies and resources. The team also carefully consults and reviews all educational comics with the experts in the field (including TBI survivors themselves).
The latest InfoComic tells the story of Dan, a young adult who obtained a concussion while on the soccer field. Dan’s journey takes him through concussion protocol on the sports field and off the field at the emergency room. Step by step, Dan recovers from his concussion but learns important information along the way and valuable self-care tools that make a big difference in Dan’s recovery.
Dan isn’t the only one on this healing journey forward.
The InfoComic shares that a whole community learns about helping Dan through his recovery. Family and friends, coaches, educators and medical experts all play a vital role.
In addition to concussion recovery, there are other InfoComics that cover a variety of other topics such as TBI and sleep issues, headaches and much more. Click here to take a look. Readers are also invited to take a short survey to share their thoughts on each InfoComic.
After my stroke, I find myself strongly motivated not to have another one. If you haven’t had a stroke, believe me when I tell you: it is about the least fun thing that can ever happen to you. You should do everything in your power to avoid it.
I’ve done a lot of reading on the topic of avoiding a stroke, and I thought I would share some of the tips I’ve run across.
If you’re reading this, you probably have a traumatic brain injury, maybe one caused by something heavily impacting your head in some way. If so, you don’t want to have a stroke on top of the TBI you already have. Trust me on this.
Keep your blood pressure under control
I always felt perfectly fine, so I didn’t make any effort to see a doctor and get checked out. I rarely got so much as a cold, so I figured I didn’t have anything to worry about and didn’t see any doctors for a lot of years. Do not do this. I had high blood pressure and didn’t know it. But high blood pressure caused my stroke and it almost did me in.
The upshot is that if you don’t know your blood pressure, see a doctor and find out what it is. I am told a consistent pressure reading in the range of 120/80 is good; get concerned when it consistently hits around 140/100 and higher. You will want to be tested more than once, on different days and at different times of day since your blood pressure can fluctuate due to various factors. You don’t always have to go to the doctor’s office to check. You can also have your blood pressure measured in places like Rite Aid, Walgreens and other such places. Many fire departments offer free blood pressure checks.
Your doctor can prescribe medications that will bring your pressure down to safe levels.
But please: do get checked out. I speak from personal experience when I tell you that living through a stroke is one of the least fun things you could ever do.
Feeling good isn’t a reason not to see a doctor. I felt great and thought I didn’t need to worry about my health. But a stroke doesn’t give you a whole lot of warning. Like me, you can be walking around without a care in the world one day and then wake up in the hospital with IVs stuck in your arm, wondering what the heck is going on. They don’t call strokes the silent killer for nothing.
Living a healthier lifestyle is a good idea
Quit smoking, limit alcohol, eat more fruits and vegetables, and keep your weight and blood sugar in check. Taking these steps can help lower your chances of having a stroke, and they have the added benefit that you will feel better. All your life you’ve heard lots of reasons to quit smoking; I won’t bore you with them. And there is nothing wrong with having a glass of wine with a meal. It’s the heavy drinking you want to avoid.
Other things you can do is to cut down on sodium; this involves more than cutting down on salt, which of course is always a good idea. Also, watch processed foods: cold cuts, canned soup, and a whole lot of other food items are processed and have high sodium. You will want to cut down on foods that will cause your blood vessels to get clogged with fat, cholesterol and plaque. When gunk builds up in your veins it makes your heart must work harder, and that can lead to not just strokes but also arteriosclerosis and heart problems. I’m told a heart attack isn’t any fun either. Also, having a heart attack is an indicator that you could also have a stroke later.
If you don’t already, make sure your diet is high in grains, fruits and vegetables and foods low in saturated fat. Your mother wasn’t fooling when she told you that vegetables are your friend.
It can’t be just coincidence that a heart-healthy diet is also a good preventative measure for strokes.
Exercise regularly. You don’t need to go to the gym; 20 minutes of walking every day is a good thing to do.
For one thing, it can help you keep your weight and blood glucose levels down. It also exercises your heart (in a good way) and helps it to keep healthy. Your heart is a muscle and exercise is good for it. Schlepping around excess weight puts strain on your heart and causes other problems, like strokes.
Rather than taking the elevator, when it is feasible, take the stairs instead. Instead of driving three blocks to the convenience store, try walking instead. Look at all the things you do in your life and find ways you can do them walking instead.
Get a handle on your anger and worry
Do you have a short fuse? Are you prone to worry–when there is nothing to worry about, do you worry about why there’s nothing to worry about? Stop doing it. Now.
Anger and worry produce stress and constant stress just simply isn’t good for your system. It can contribute to a stroke, especially if you already have the physical conditions that set you up for a stroke. Stress and worry can help open the door for that stroke.
I recommend learning how to meditate or using some other form of mental relaxation. If you can’t or won’t do that, there are several environmental recordings out there that can help. One that I particularly like is one that simulates the sound of rainfall in a forest. There are many others–I just like that one the most. They’re not hard to find; my nephew tells me there are even apps for that kind of thing.
Make it a habit to sit quietly and listen to those sounds. Let yourself be caught up in it. The time will fly right by and help you relax.
There is nothing wrong with occasionally getting angry or worrying. It’s when either of these gets to be your default position that you should worry. Learn to put things in perspective.
If all this sounds overly simplistic, that’s because it is. There are many other things you can do to avoid a stroke; This is meant to be a general introduction to the subject, and is by no means complete.
These tips and others can help prevent a stroke, and they can be helpful if you have already had a stroke, to prevent a second stroke. If, like me, you have already had one, you have a pretty good chance of having another one within the five years after the first one. About 795,000 Americans experience a stroke each year and about 185,000 of those strokes are recurrent strokes. About 25% of the 795,000 will go through another stroke within their lifetime. (To put this in perspective, 795,000 is higher than the total population of Wyoming, where I grew up).
One important point to consider: while it’s good to control the factors that you can do something about, there are some factors beyond your control, like genetics. Some strokes are going to happen regardless of how one lives his life. All you can do is go ahead and live your life and make it as full as you can; there’s no point in worrying about things you can’t control. But control the factors that you can control.
Let me make two last points here. The first is that you should really talk to a doctor about these things; you don’t want to be getting your medical advice from a guy that hadn’t seen a doctor in more than 20 years. Talk to a doctor, a real one. The second is that none of these things guarantees you will never have a stroke; but it is true that they can help lessen your chances of having one.
A stroke is a complex confluence of factors; preventing a stroke is also involved. It’s not possible for me to cover everything here. Ask your doctor for more involved information. But I hope I’ve given you something to think about.
I will leave you with the words of a famous wise man: Live long and prosper.
Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He also doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab. Peterson also welcomes reader comments. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love books? Looking for some great reads this summer?
Well, if you answered YES to one or both of those questions, BEST has a something terrific in store just for you! Beginning on June 20, 2017 at 10 a.m. PST and running through June 21, 2017 at 3:55 p.m. PST, BEST will be hosting the BEST Summer Reads giveaway on our Facebook page. Participants will be eligible to win THREE terrific reads from these amazing authors:
Author Jeff Sebell has served as an inspiration, beacon of hope and steady support for the brain injury community (and beyond) for many years. He penned the highly acclaimed and groundbreaking book, Learning to Live with Yourself after Brain Injury, which was released in August of 2014.
Simply put, Jeff Sebell gets it.
Mia’s book is the inspirational account of her powerful journey of regrouping after a brain injury and preparing for a new life of hope and possibility. Prepare to be inspired, as Mia chronicles her challenges and triumphs, with courage, tenacity and optimism (there’s even some amazing recipes included, as an added bonus).
The gripping and powerful story of a mother’s love and determination and a young woman, her beloved daughter, who defied the odds and a dire prognosis following a near fatal car accident. Jennifer Field not only survived, but learned to thrive anyway with strength and resiliency.
Entering to win these BEST summer reads is easy.
When you see our special Facebook post about the giveaway on the BEST Facebook page on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, beginning at 10 a.m. PST, simply like that post and you are entered into the drawing for the books shown above. The winner will be selected by random drawing on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 3:55 p.m. PST and the announcement will be posted shortly thereafter (4:05 p.m. PST) on the BEST Facebook page. Good luck!
Added bonus: Want to like us on Facebook while you are stopping by to enter? We’d love it! By liking our Facebook page, you’ll be joining other BEST superheroes and their families in conversation, sharing news and links you can use and much more all year round.
Please read: following are some important giveaway terms, conditions and eligibility requirements.
- The BEST Summer Reads Facebook Giveaway will be found exclusively on the BEST Facebook page.
- These giveaways are in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
- Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the promotion will be directed to Sponsor (Brain Energy Support Team), not Facebook.
- The giveaway is open to all adults over the age of 18 and who reside in the continental United States.
- Those who wish to participate will be asked to LIKE the post to be entered during the entry period of June 20, 2017, 10 a.m. PST to June 21, 2017 3:55 p.m. PST. Winner will be selected by random drawing and will be announced on the BEST Facebook page on June 21, 2017 by 4:05 p.m. PST.
- Winner will be asked to supply mailing address to the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) via private message (contact instructions will be noted on the winner’s announcement post). Winner’s contact information will remain private and will not be shared or used for any other purpose than to arrange for the shipping of the gift package.
- Gift package will be mailed within three business days upon receipt of the winner’s mailing address. Gift package will be shipped by standard mail through the United States Postal Service.
Pacific Northwest paper and mixed media artist, owner of paper arts and goods company, Heartfelt Tidbits of Creativity, and BEST Gratitude Specialist, Diane Rasch, recently unveiled her latest mixed-media art piece that will be part of the 2017 Brain Injury Art Show being held at the Bellevue Art Museum in Bellevue, Washington. The show will run from June 30, 2017 through October 1, 2017 in the Bellevue Art Museum’s Community Education Gallery.
Rasch participated in last year’s show with her mixed-media project that depicted the human brain, called “My Beautiful Brain.”
This year, Rasch is especially excited about her latest project as it has a special personal meaning for the artist.
Called, “My Puzzling Life,” the piece depicts important symbols of hope, dreams and challenges in the forms of “puzzle pieces” that share the artist’s life of navigating through brain injury.
“This one was hard to make,” smiles Rasch. “There was a lot to say and share, more so than my brain piece from last year.”
“But I just love this new piece,” continues Rasch. “It’s very special to me. It represents my dreams, some of them which have come true, even with a brain injury. It share symbols of time, hope, change, good things, and hard things, too.”
Most of all, Rasch’s piece is a dedication, not only to her journey forward, but to someone and something very special to her: BEST Founder, Penny Condoll and the Identity and Moving On After A TBI program offered at BEST.
“Penny’s been my encouraging and supporting voice. Actually, I’m going to say this piece is a representation of what Moving On can do for you. Thank you to my dear friend, Penny.”
Rasch wishes to also acknowledge with great appreciation the collaborative assistance of Tim Mansen.