The Resilient Brain

Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

The Anniversary of My Injury: 24 Years Later

My story is not unique. However, the fact that I have regained my life IS.

Today is March 5th, 2014, the anniversary of my cerebral bleed and a 60-mile-an-hour head-on auto accident. It is the day that 24 years ago, my life was changed forever. It is also Brain Injury Awareness Month. The fact that these two events coincide is pretty coincidental. 24 years ago I don’t think Brain Injury Awareness month even existed yet since the term didn’t derive until years later.

In March of 1990, if you were knocked unconscious and were out for less than an hour, you were told you had a “head injury” or a “mild traumatic brain injury.” My story is not unique, especially this awful winter with the countless smashed or flipped over cars. What is unique, however, is that I have regained my life. It took hard work and countless hours of rehabilitation and a strong will.

On March 5th, 1990, my life was suddenly transformed. While driving home after visiting a cancer patient, as previously mentioned, I suffered a cerebral bleed (an aneurysm, a type of stroke), became unconscious at the wheel of my automobile, and was involved in a 60 mph head-on auto accident. Five months later, I had open skull, brain surgery to remove the cause of the stroke, which was a growth on my brain (a cavernous hemangioma).

At the time of my accident, I was a successful health practitioner (who managed a private practice of 7 therapists and 250 patients), then on March 5th, I was suddenly thrust into the role of brain injured patient and found myself fighting for survival.

In the months that followed, many of the signs of brain injury and post-concussion syndrome appeared. It took me years to understand the consequences of my mild traumatic brain injury, and my recovery was slow. None of my doctors fully explained my problems, told me what to expect, or explained how to cope with my many symptoms.

In 1994 I was told by all my doctors that I was permanently brain damaged. In fact, one of the doctors stuck his finger in my face and said, “You are permanently brain damaged and you need to accept this. You need to go to a therapist and learn how to cope with this.”

In 1994, the brain was thought to be a stagnate circuit, irreparable once damaged. With today’s knowledge of neuroplasticity, we now know that the brain has the ability to repair itself. Unfortunately, some doctors still hold this belief that damage to the brain is irreparable. This has been the case with one of my recent consults whose neurologist likened her injured brain to a smashed tomato and stated that nothing could correct this injury.

Thankfully, I did not listen to that doctor and knew in my gut I would regain my life. Having had an integrative practice, I used the knowledge I had and developed my 5 Prong approach. What I found out was that what you eat is extremely important, along with proper exercise and the various modalities in traditional, complementary and alternative medicines. From what I learned I wrote my first book, Coping with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Since then, a lot has happened in the world of brain injury and in my world, as well. My newest book, Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, includes the newest technology for diagnosing, assessing and treating all the symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome. 

Because of what happened to me, I have been able to help another person, lessen their suffering, and help them regain their life again after a brain injury. For this entire journey, I feel truly blessed.

Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D., is a Neuropsychologist, Board Certified Health Psychologist, Board Certified Sports Psychologist, and Trauma Therapist with over 35 years experience.

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