Newsletter – April 2011

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April News

2011 Issue #4

Dear Friends,
I am so happy to be a part of this community called B.R.A.I.N. and Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.). March was a very productive month for B.R.A.I.N. with the California Speech and Hearing Association convention in Los Angeles, 4 weekly F.B.I. meetings, Veterans Affairs (VA) forums, and Think Tank 2011! At the convention, Dr. Todd Clements and Sue Rueb spoke to over 400 speech language pathologists about the brain and how to keep it healthy. Megan Boudreau, Jennifer Carr (Chapman graduate students) and I presented a poster presentation on the effects that F.B.I. has on the brain injury survivors and volunteers. It is so exciting to see the volunteers each week and the relationships that are being developed. It is truly what our mission is all about – experiencing life together in a community.


Our newsletter gets bigger and better each month as we have so much to cover and great things to share.

Feel free to contact me at my email address at if there is something you need or would like to see in upcoming newsletters.


So, stop by any Thursday night from 4:30-6:30 p.m. (1000 Studebaker Rd., Long Beach, CA) and see what is happening with our social networking group, F.B.I.


Be well,


Angela Mandas

Speech Language Pathologist

F.B.I. Facilitator


by Ron Johnson

I suffered my brain injury and then a stroke over 30 years ago from a car accident. Prior to the accident, I was married and had a son. I worked as a short order cook and could make a “mean” plate of anything!
After my accident, my mother and I moved from Marin County to Long Beach. I had a beautiful room right on the beach with a view of the ocean. I kept active by attending a special gym and being a member of a day activity center for brain injured adults. After my mother died I moved to a board and care facility. I have lived in two different Board and Care facilities in the past 18 years. I have made the best of it by socializing and sharing with my older boarders.
I found out about B.R.A.I.N. from my friends Kathy and Carl Northington. I met Sue Rueb, the mother of invention, almost 2 years ago. We are benefitting from Sue’s desire to create a community for brain injured adults like me. I attend F.B.I. weekly and I am making so many new friends. I have a job there and I greet people. I thank God every day for Sue’s “vision” for all of us.


Message from Sue Rueb, Founder of B.R.A.I.N


Sue Photo (Flowers)



March 27, 2011 was our second annual Think Tank Brain Symposium.  The Grand in Long Beach was buzzing with activity all afternoon starting with a delicious lunch that was served graciously. Speakers were in session simultaneously in two separate rooms giving choice and variety to the day.  Dr. Todd Clements, psychiatrist, flew in from Plano, Texas to give an outstanding and current look at brain imaging and how that affects brain injury therapy. Dr. Bennet Omalu, neuropathologist, flew in from Northern California to give a stunning recount of his earth shaking discovery of tau protein build up in deceased NFL players’ brains, leading to their brain injuries. Dr. Earl Henslin, psychologist, spoke on the important relationship impacts to the brain injured. Angela Mandas, speech pathologist, taught a session on computer therapy/training at home for those who have sustained a brain injury. Debbie Edwards, a competent and resourceful home caregiver, gave her own compelling story of her family coping with two traumatic brain injuries.


At the coffee break, we had an opportunity to share B.R.A.I.N.’s vision of a community for brain-injured adults. We started B.R.A.I.N. in 2007, received our non-profit status in 2008 and had our first fundraiser, Brainstorm, in 2009.  The funds from that evening remain in the bank today only building interest as awareness builds in Southern California and beyond. It is important to say here that B.R.A.I.N. seeks to help those who are interested in moving forward in their rehab after their release from formal rehabilitation. Each injury is unique and so each person’s journey back to normalcy is unique. Our affiliation with other organizations and rehabilitation centers helps us to advance research, recovery and residual care…meaning individual support and assistance to continue their care journey. This includes a day program for those at home as well as some space for those who need transitional residential living.  We want to lengthen our weekly Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.) sessions this year. Plans are being discussed to have our own space for offices and a program that would help brain-injured individuals and their families. We will keep everyone informed as we move forward. The B.R.A.I.N. Center is the big dream and yet we are already experiencing dreams come true, aren’t we? New friendships, feelings of purpose and dignity, hope dispensed to those starting down the long journey of brain injury are but a few of the benefits that we are all watching unfold. Though Think Tanks are primarily educational opportunities, B.R.A.I.N. did realize some financial benefit from our 2011 event.


Thank you one and all for your support and attendance at Think Tank 2011.  We look forward to next year already.  Please spread the word about our F.B.I. meeting.  Friends of Brain Injury meets each Thursday from 4:30-6:30 at 1000 N. Studebaker Rd. in the Cornerstone Church building.  All are welcome to attend.  It continues to be an honor to serve brain- injured individuals and their families in Southern California.





by Angela Mandas

Our F.B.I. member, Art Nadel, graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and his career was always aligned with the aerospace industry.  In fact, the company for which he worked for 27 years, (for whom he was working when he had his stroke), had parts on the Challenger  (Not, fortunately, the parts that failed). Knowing this, when I became aware of a symposium to be held on the campus of Chapman University, on January 24, on the topic of the Challenger disaster, I recommended to Art that he attend. What I didn’t know at the time was that his wife, Valerie, would not be able to drive him to  Chapman that day, but once she shared that with me I contacted several people whom I thought might be available to drive with Art and, as well, be interested in the program.One of the people I contacted was Tim Price. However, the emails Tim and I exchanged were not perfectly clear and I concluded he was unavailable on the 24th.

When Valerie arrived home on the 24th from the first day of classes at CSU-Fullerton, Art was nowhere to be found, and she was understandably alarmed. Both his keys and his cell phone were missing from his bureau, a sure sign he had left the house. There was no note, but when Valerie picked up the home phone, the “voice mail waiting” signal was beeping. She retrieved a voice mail from Art and Tim advising they were on their way to Chapman for the lecture. It seems Tim came by on Monday, to Art’s total surprise, to pick him up. As quickly as possible, Art got ready to drive away with Tim and the two of them were on their way to Chapman. Once at the campus, they located the Information Booth and found the lecture hall for the symposium and they were “in business.”

Valerie called me and, happily, I was not on my phone and was in my office, a short walk across campus from the lecture hall.  Art and Tim were just leaving the hall when I met up with them – two more minutes and I would have missed them – and very eager to tell me all about the lecture and their adventure.

We Walk Together to Bring Awareness to Others

by Jana Rueb


The theme of unity was undoubtedly present at Coastline College’s 5th Annual Acquired Brain Injury Walk on Saturday March 26, 2011. B.R.A.I.N. has indeed become a big family – a family that cares for, respects, loves, and encourages each other. I saw how our volunteers and survivors truly came together under the one common goal of putting a spotlight on the issue of brain injury.


On the morning of the ABI Walk, as I drove to Huntington Central Park to meet my B.R.A.I.N. family, I saw one of my pals from F.B.I. (Friends of Brain Injury), Art Luque, on the side of the road. He was taking pictures on his way to the event. As B.R.A.I.N.’s resident photographer, Art has skillfully captured some really fantastic moments during our F.B.I. meetings and other events (see his photos below from the ABI Walk). I pulled over, he hopped in my car and off we went. We arrived at the park, saw the amazing turnout, and quickly joined our B.R.A.I.N. team of walkers. Our team included volunteers and survivors and their families. It was so encouraging to see my friends turn out in support of each other. I was privileged to walk with my buddy, Ray Hilliard. Ray walks 5 miles a day around the VA in Long Beach – a well-respected veteran of the Gulf War. He suffered 3 strokes and has overcome many of the physical obstacles that accompanied his injury. I was so incredibly proud of Ray for finishing that race and doing it in style.


I’m proud of our whole group for bringing positivity and fun to the day. Thanks to all who came out! Our family has grown leaps and bounds since our inception in 2007. But as the numbers have grown, the unity has strengthened.


God bless all of you,


Jana Rueb

Communications Coordinator



ABI walkABI Walk (Brittany)


(Top Left: Ray and Me; Top Right: Brittany & Andrew; Bottom: Current Coastline ABI students)



Precision Rehab Maintenance Class

This engaging and dynamic class is offered to individuals who have a desire to maintain or improve the strength, flexibility and functional progressions acquired through physical therapy. With a licensed physical therapist conducting the class, you will work on cardiovascular fitness, balance, upper body and lower extremity strength and more.

There is a maximum of 5 people per class so you get the attention and guidance you need. The cost of the class is $75.00 a month and includes 4 one hour sessions held once a week.

For more information call (562) 988-3570.

My Return From a Traumatic Brain Injury and Addiction

by David Kelsey



Growing up, it was never easy for me to measure the true value of life. It’s through life’s tests and trials that I was exposed to limits the mental and physical body was capable of standing up to. Somehow and someway there was a plan for me that I never saw coming, as are most of the utterly incredible and painful experiences I’ve faced. The true smell of fear and pain hit me when I was 20 years old. My first humbling and nasty accident, that actually turned out to be an attempted murder. Maui in the year of 2002, was one that I would never forget, and sometimes wish I could. I was attacked by two Hawaiin locals while visiting my sister in Lahaina, Maui. In result of this horrific beating, I was hospitalized and had my jaw wired shut for close to 4 months. I had never known what real survival was until this, my first life changing and extremely traumatic incident had happened.


Years later, I found myself in the mountains on a regular basis. Searching for and enjoying the one love and passion I have, which is snowboarding. Having spent years in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I became addicted to the outdoor elements of the mountains and snow. Never, during my 15 years of advantageous snowboarding, did I ever think that a horrific fall while snowboarding would be the thing that would change my life once more. With all the directions and paths a 26 year old could go, I would have to learn to start from the ground up.


Several years of doing what I loved, led to one day at Mountain High, located in a mountain range in Southern California. Being an avid snowboarder, and placing myself in danger’s way, this consisted of avalanches, trees, and cliffs. It was a sunny day at a local mountain, riding with a few of the boys, that would be the setting for a incident that would draw a new life. Being one of the better snowboarders in the group, I began hitting the largest jumps (kickers, tabletop’s) that the mountain had to offer. A buddy of mine had asked me to do a 720 on the biggest one, and I thought I would dazzle him. Hucking at a speed of about 50 mph, I launched about 80 feet, overshooting the landing by a mere 20 feet. This allowed me to spin in the air and over rotate, and placing my back to face downhill. I naturally tried to break my fall and snapped my wrist in half, drawing my fingers back to my the top of my arm. Force had led my head straight to the ground, that had been hard packed snow and pretty much ice. I was flat on the ground and unconscious for about ten minutes, until my friend came to my attention as I regained consciousness. One look at my wrist and one look at the blood coming from my ears and he knew it was bad.


Ski patrol had then made the assessment to heli-lift me to Loma Linda University Hospital, where I would have emergency Hematoma pressure release done to my skull, due to a Coup-Contra Coup head injury. A pressure release was done to my wrist, resulting in a twelve hour surgery. I remained at Loma Linda for two and a half weeks and the first day of memory was me being moved to Long Beach Memorial Hospital. Two days were spent at LBMH, where I would begin the recovery, rehabilitation, and trauma steps and protocol. My family remained by my side during almost all times that the team of almost 5 doctors would allow. I was released home only to find out that the beginning stages of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) would be much too tragic and fearful than anyone had thought. This was no ordinary injury. My family had made a guided and sought out decision to move me to Casa Colina In-Patient care for TBI patients of all kinds. Pomona, CA would be my home for the next three and a half months of my life, during which rigorous and painful rehabilitation techniques and therapy would take place. Pain would draw me further and further away from my participation in the process until my doctor at the time prescribed me 17 different medications, six of which were heavy duty pain killers.


The pain had subsided due to the heavy and over medicated path I was taking, and all the characteristics of TBI were clear as day. But the reactions and responses by my family and friends were ones of fear, pain, and emotional distress, sided by hope, prayer, and love. To this day I can honestly and whole heartedly say that it was the prayer that got me through such trying times. The path of my new life had been set and the journey of a young man now with TBI had begun. After approximately 4 months of hospitals, and an entire team of Brain Doctors, I was released home…only to find myself once again, lost and confused, and in serious pain. It was my family’s and my own duty to administer and regulate the drugs given at our departure from Casa Colina. I believe about 7 of the 17 drugs had been removed from my daily regimen. But it was the names and reputation of the pain killers that scared the pants off my family. Confused, scared, traumatized, and lost, my family made a decision that they could not handle the drug situation. So I was placed, 3 days out of the hospital, into a drug detox center for street drug users, not medical patients. It was there that my brain would get squeezed even harder, with the abandonment and separation anxiety that would quickly follow. Nine days of cutting 10 drugs cold turkey, consisted of no sleep, no appetite, and nobody to be there for me. Lost, lost, lost. Trauma would continue to eat away at me as I was placed in a drug rehabilitation center in San Clemente, CA where I would spend 30 days getting off the drugs that were prescribed to me over the course of 4 months. “How did I get here?” were the words that crossed my mind daily. It wasn’t until I was released that I could see the role the drugs were playing in my TBI rehabilitation.  I had to admit to myself in the summer of 2010 that drugs still played a big part in my life. I agreed to go to a place called U-Turn for Christ in Perris, CA for three months of hard core rehabilitation. This place taught me how to rely on God and not on drugs. The letters of support that I received from friends and family helped me get through the rehab that was so crucial to the rest of my life. That chapter had ended and the true life long journey of one of many TBI survivors had begun.


To this day, I thank the doctors, nurses, staff, and specialists who knew what it took to keep me alive and heal me accordingly. My speech pathologist Angela Mandas was someone who believed in me and knew that the person who was there before was still there, and wanted to grow, thrive, and live. A support group and community by the name of B.R.A.I.N. (Brain Rehabilitation And Injury Network) would be the place where I found myself and made it possible for myself and others to believe in ourselves. TBI, a recently recognized injury, will now become an essential part of my life. But, I will never regret the challenges I’ve faced or the situations I placed myself in. Because I know there’s a purpose to everything that happens to us, a divine reason if you will. So, in these recent years, I have dedicated myself to helping others and making people aware of this ever growing, life changing thing called TBI and drug addiction.



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