Newsletter – February 2011

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Happy Valentine’s Day from B.R.A.I.N.!
don and cathy
Carl and Kathy Northington (top)

Don and Cathy Di Marco (bottom)

It’s February and love is in the air…


At B.R.A.I.N, we celebrate marriage and relationships…


We spread love to those at Friends of Brain Injury…


Dear Friend of B.R.A.I.N.,


We are excited to inform you that we are only 6 weeks away from our second annual symposium, Think Tank 2011. As you know, the purpose of this symposium is to provide awareness and education from nationally known physicians, experienced therapists and caregivers to the families and friends close to brain injury in Southern California. Our founder, Susan Rueb, has been working tirelessly in marketing this symposium, as she spoke on Rich Buhler’s radio show “Talk from the Heart” on KBRT-AM 740 in Los Angeles and will be speaking on Hugh Hewitt’s nationally-syndicated radio show on KRLA-AM 870 March 2nd at 4:30pm PST. If it is at the post office or the grocery store, Sue can be found talking to people in line telling her story and listening to those who have their own stories.


As the editor of the newsletter and the group facilitor of F.B.I. (Friends of Brain Injury), I can tell you that Think Tank 2011 has something for everyone. We are sending the word out to physical, occupational and speech therapists, to parents and to spouses, to doctors and to psychologists. It is up to you to help us get the word out. Brain injury includes brain tumors, all types of cerebral vascular accidents (strokes), closed head injuries (falls and car accidents) to open head injuries (gunshot wounds to the head) and more. Brain injury can also result after a cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest. It doesn’t discriminate in age, race or gender. It affects all of us.


Napoleon Hill (1883-1970 American author) stated, “Do not wait; the time will never be just right. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”

So, with that, enjoy the month of love, spread the word about Think Tank 2011, stop by at any F.B.I. meeting (Thursdays 4:30-6:30pm at 1000 Studebaker in Long Beach, CA) and support this worthy organization. Visit B.R.A.I.N.’s website for more information about Think Tank 2011. click here for website


Angela Mandas, MA

Speech Language Pathologist

F.B.I. Group Facilitator


Special events at F.B.I.


February 10: Dr. Donald Baune, NeuroChiropractor, will discuss alignment and body mechanics after brain injury.


February 17: Stephanie Davis, BS, will lead a class in yoga breathing and other respiratory techniques.


February 24: Speech and Hearing testing will be held at Precision Rehabilitation.  Graduate students will test for hearing loss, middle ear function and speech/memory and cognition. Home programs will be provided as well as referrals to CSULB Communicative Disorders Clinic.


All events begin at 4:30 p.m. and conclude at 6:30 p.m.  The event on 2/24 will be held at Precision Rehabilitation and not at the Cornerstone Location.


Precision Rehabilitation is located at 3294 E. Spring Street in Long Beach. Cross streets are Redondo and Cherry Avenue.

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Spotlight on Suzie Strichard – the California Speech and Hearing Association Consumer of the Year!

by Angela Mandas


I met Susan on April 21, 2004  forty-eight hours after her massive stroke. I recall the bedside evaluation in the Intensive Care Unit at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. I was consulted to see her for a dysphagia evaluation and eventually a Speech and Language Evaluation. Susan was clearly aphasic and apraxic but looking at her eyes, I knew she understood what was happening to her. From her eyes I could see the concern and the fight she was ready to endure. Her supportive husband, Sandy was there and informed me that his wife would not stop fighting until she was satisfied with her return to function. I remember calling her brother Tom, a prominent physician, to discuss the swallowing findings with him. He also communicated to me to “do everything possible”. Susan had a serious situation ahead of her. She was unable to swallow for 2 days but as a clinician I knew that giving her another day to recover was the best thing to do before considering a feeding tube. I was glad I made that decision as 24 hours later she was able to swallow her own saliva and then pureed foods by her 3rd day of hospitalization.


That was six years ago and it is as fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday. I have continued to work with Susan over the past six years with increasing her speech clarity and decreasing her apraxia. Susan was referred to CSU Long Beach after her therapy terminated at Long Beach Memorial Transitional Rehabilitation. She continued to make exceptional progress in all aspects of her rehab. She was told that she would never write, brush her hair, or talk clearly enough to speak to groups or on the phone.What doesn’t surprise me is that Susan has defied all the physicians and naysayers.


Three years ago I consulted Susan with the idea of starting a group for people who have suffered strokes and head injuries on campus. I asked her advice and she said, “Let’s make a group for all those who don’t fit in anyplace else”. This group started with 5 adults ranging in age from 28 to 55 years. The group was named the Young Neuro Group. This group provided support to each other on Fridays in the Communicative Disorders Department  at CSULB under my supervision. Graduate students began to provide communication activities and eventually Susan became the leader of this group!


The Young Neuro Group joined B.R.A.I.N. and are now called Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.).  Susan also participated in another group called the Terrie Miller Book Club at CSULB. This group was open to anyone with a neurological disorder who enjoys reading books. The group had two graduate students facilitating but Susan stood out as a leader as she encouraged others to try to read aloud despite their aphasia and apraxia. The Terrie Miller Book Club ran for two years, one year after the death of Ms. Miller from a glioblastoma multiforme tumor. The group faded as members decided to move on. Susan decided to take it one step further and moved the group to Precision Rehabilitation, the center where she receives her current speech, physical, occupational and acupuncture therapy. Susan contacted previous group members who wanted to delve into more than just reading to improve communication skills. Susan wanted to inspire people to laugh through literature and to enjoy reading both simple books and more challenging works.  Susan strives to improve herself and the lives of others. Her life after the stroke has been a marvelous journey into self discovery.


Susan Strichard deserves to receive the Consumer of the Year award for all those people whose lives she has changed and for all those that she will change in the days to come.


Suzie has been selected to receive this award at the state convention of the California Speech and Hearing Association awards ceremony on Saturday, March 26th at the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel. She was selected because of her ability to change the situation and to help others with disabilities.


Congratulations Suzie. We are so proud of you!


5267 Warner Avenue #306

Huntington Beach, California 92649

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