Brain Health

Sue’s April 2017 Letter

Posted | 0 comments

Dear Friends, Think Tank 2017 was a success.  Not only was cutting edge information given, but the manner in which all speakers delivered their messages was laced with grace and hospitality. The day started with Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist who is keenly curious about how the brain directs behavior, what factors help heal the brain and how each brain is wired individually. Dr. Medina’s talk was much like trying to drink from a fire hose, but his engaging and enthusiastic style kept the crowd riveted throughout the hour. The main take away from Dr. Medina’s session was the fact that moderate physical exercise is the single most important positive factor in gaining cognitive improvement after sustaining a brain injury. When I see various survivors come into our facility to work out with our strength and balance trainer, Kevin Jung, I am thrilled that they are putting their effort into true rehabilitation. Since moving into our present facility in 2012, my role at B.R.A.I.N. has taken on a different slant than when we first began the organization in 2008. Back then, I was studying all I could about the brain and learning everything that would help me communicate with the various doctors and therapists. Then, when therapists went to work here, my role switched to business, leadership subjects, and communicating with potential donors. I was going through the files in my own brain, naming the parts of the brain and their functions. When I thought of the “gear shifter of the brain”, I was shocked that I could not recall its name. I struggled for a few days trying to remember. Then, I jumped on the treadmill and put the speed up to 4, which was fast enough that I couldn’t sing and after 5 minutes, the name “Anterior Cingulate Gyrus” popped into my pea brain. Thanks for the tip, Dr. Medina! Dr. Mary Kennedy, Professor of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Chapman University gave her talk on coaching the brain injury survivor in a way that enables them to move forward by working hard and making their own decisions on task procedures. The various therapists in attendance gained a lot for their practices. B.R.A.I.N. is grateful that we can use Dr. Kennedy’s procedures in our therapy. John Kelley, CEO of CereScan, was happy to give current information about the importance of getting a clear diagnosis for the brain. CereScan is not just a brain scanning company, but also a medical information capturing company to include a wide variety of areas to be considered. Birth process, medical history, medications taken and several different brain tests such as scans and QEEG evaluations are all taken into the scope to evaluate the individual’s brain. Dr. Dee Gaines is a rare and interesting PhD (Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology) who regularly gives help to the veterans at the VA in different locations. She works with various cases of criminality that involves brains that are impacted. She has spent time in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Israel, and English is her second language but speaks it with ease. Some of her unique processes are being used all over the Los Angeles basin. Last, but certainly not least was Julie Doan, wife of Andrew Doan MD, Naval Officer and Eye Surgeon. Their passion is about the overuse of digital media. The data were only eclipsed by their own private story of how digital media almost destroyed their family life and careers. Julie is a Registered Nurse (RN) and is a strong advocate for getting the word out about digital drugs. One only needs...

Read More

MY UNEXPECTED CHALLENGE

Posted | 0 comments

By Kimberly Okabayashi My name is Kimberly Okabayashi. I came to B.R.A.I.N. last June to teach yoga. Sue  asked me to write about my feelings, faith and trust in God for the last few months. I have heard stories from survivors about their traumatic brain injuries. It has been a sobering thought that we could be living life to the fullest, climbing a mountain, riding a bike or driving a car, get into an accident, and in that split second, our life changes forever. For the past five years, I have made it a priority to take care of my body. I would make a kale smoothie for breakfast, buy farm fresh or organic vegetables, cut carbs and cleanse every six months. I would get a physical, and a check-up from my OBGYN once a year. Most years, my doctor would say, “no news is good news, all is well, I’ll call if there is anything unusual.” Last fall, I got a phone call after the OBGYN check-up. More tests were done. On October 13, 2016 I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, a type of breast cancer. While I did not have any symptoms, I felt like my body had been hijacked. I had heard of the word anxiety, yet I had no idea the extent of consumption it would take. Sure, everyone has some anxiety about taking a test, or moving, or anything that is new. This emotion was like a foreign being that came into my mind and took over. I had met and now lived with anxiety day and night. Anxiety was like an unwelcome guest that wouldn’t leave. Following surgery in November, my cancer treatment would include 35 treatments of radiation. I had to wait until January to begin radiation. Apparently, doctors like to take time off with their families over the holidays. In the meantime, a physicist would gather all of my lab results and come up with a computerized program designed to pin point any remaining cancer cells and kill them. In the month prior to radiation, I thought I would get a tattoo in order to share my faith and put a scripture on my arm so that each health professional could see it when they treated me. When I went in to the Cancer Treatment Center at Long Beach Memorial for a walk-through explaining the process, my wish came true with four tiny dots (tattoos) for the set-up of radiation. The four dots were so painful, that ended any thought of a scripture on my arm. My biggest fear of radiation was being in a room made with cement walls, laying on a table by myself, with a round giant sun beam moving around me, with the ten inch thick door closed, for three minutes. There is also a red light outside the door so that no one walks into the room during the treatment. I still don’t understand how radiation is good for me, but no one else. There would be a camera so the radiologist could see me, and audio so we could talk during the treatment. Once the door was closed, I had to stay still and it would be me and anxiety for three long minutes. During the first treatment, I asked if I needed to remove any jewelry? The technician said no, the beam would only go to the designated area. I asked if I could hold something in my hand in the future. He said yes. I had received a box in the mail from my brother who is ten years my senior –...

Read More

Angela’s February 2017 Letter

Posted | 0 comments

Dear Friends, My heart is full of joy as I write this letter to you. Every day, I get up hoping to make a difference in someone’s life. As a speech language pathologist, I have the opportunity to work with those that cannot speak for many reasons. I am present when a child gets to utter “Mama” for the first time, “I love you” to the spouse who relentlessly advocates and supports her husband. I get to witness love through eye glances, smiles, body language and through words when I attend Friends of Brain injury (F.B.I.) every Tuesday night. You see, love happens at F.B.I. in many different ways. It is felt when you walk in the door to sign in and you are greeted by a smiling face. You are recognized by a volunteer, as you might be someone who could be isolated all week long. You enter the multi-purpose room and you feel the excitement from friends, survivors, family and volunteers. Love is all around! The F.B.I. theme for the month was, “Love.” We discussed what we love, what we cannot do without and created a recipe for love. (See newsletter recipe below). My husband and I, along with Maybelle and Arnie Schroeder, reviewed The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It was interesting as this was the first time that the 4 of us had spoken at F.B.I., and it was exciting to talk to the survivors about understanding love and what that means to each other. F.B.I. is a place of sharing and celebrating life events. We laugh with those who are joyful, and we carry each other’s burdens when they are down. For two hours, many things get pushed aside so we can focus on laughing, sharing, hugging, making the new F.B.I. hand signal and cheering on each other for little accomplishments. Love is all around us and it carries us to the next week when we get our emotional tanks refilled. Thank you for your monthly physical and monetary support of our programs. Hope to see you on a Tuesday night. With gratitude for leading F.B.I., Angela Mandas, MA CCC-SLP Speech Language Pathologist F.B.I. Group Facilitator...

Read More

Sue’s February 2017 Letter

Posted | 0 comments

Dear Friends, Truth is harder to find these days, it seems. Here is something I know that is true and I want to share it with you: Today, I am thankful for our Brain Rehabilitation And Injury Network. We work with people of integrity and truth. We listen to survivors and their families tell their important and truthful stories. Some are incredibly sad. Other stories are inspiring and positive, able to help others. We are all together. Last week at FBI, the multi-purpose room was full of joy as we had Mandy Mykitta come and teach us all some dance steps. Wheel chairs were spinning and hearts were beating faster as the music put smiles on all of our faces. We loved it. Stay tuned as we hope that Mandy will be able to add Dance as a therapy in the future. What makes me smile? Survivors making good decisions. When a survivor of a stroke or TBI comes to B.R.A.I.N., finding a comfortable place to share life with many friends with similar challenges, they are happy and so am I. Please spread the news to your friends and interested acquaintances about B.R.A.I.N. and what it has to offer. Therapies, classes, social activities and resources are all available here. The key component is self-motivation. I applaud anyone who accepts the hand we extend to help them improve. Whether it is taking speech therapy, enrolling in a literacy class or working out with Kevin Jung, our fitness trainer, a survivor has many choices that they can make to move their rehabilitation forward. I realize more than ever now after 5 years of being in our Cypress facility, the survivor’s mindset is the most important agent to make B.R.A.I.N. successful in helping people to improve. We accept everyone and their thoughts, and we have basically one rule that we subscribe to: Kindness.  It is always inspiring to see kindness flow around the room at our weekly FBI meetings. Kind therapists invite kind survivors to partner with them for one purpose: to help survivors move forward to get their lives back after a brain injury. It is an amazing partnership. What keeps me awake at night and makes me sad? I think about the survivors that we want to help in some way and for a variety of reasons, they do not choose to make the necessary changes for their own health. I’m including myself here, as well. How effective will any of us be to others if we don’t take care of our own health and well-being? So, let’s all take a fresh look at ourselves. What is our part in helping ourselves achieve greater health? Our Yoga Class continues to be a healthy choice for me and I thank Kimberly for her leadership. Who knows? Maybe I will answer my cell phone less, exercise more, drink more green juices and eat more vegetables. Okay, I said, “maybe.” Practice making one good decision today with a goal you can achieve. It’s funny how one decision sets you up for another. Decisions build on one another and it is important to set your mind in the positive direction. I’m going to go eat some carrots. How about you? Warmly, Sue Rueb...

Read More

THINK TANK 2017 Retraining the Brain: BACK TO BASICS

Posted | 0 comments

THINK TANK 2017  Retraining the Brain: BACK TO BASICS

Read More

Buy a Valentine’s Day gift on Amazon and donate to B.R.A.I.N.

Posted | 0 comments

Buy a Valentine’s Day gift on Amazon and donate to B.R.A.I.N.

CLICK HERE to visit Amazon and shop for your Valentine’s Day gift while also giving to B.R.A.I.N.

Read More