Brain injury and the stroke effect

May 14, 2015

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This year, 795,000 people in the U.S. will have a stroke. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 130,000 of those people will die. For the 665,000 others who survive, their road to recovery often includes dealing with paralysis, pain, cognitive rehabilitation, and even depression.

The 2015 TLU Krost Symposium, "Grey Matters: Discerning the Impacts of Head Injury," looks to offer more insight into understanding brain trauma and individuals dealing with the day-to-day effects of their injuries. In addition to education regarding sports and combat-related head trauma, the symposium will also examine brain injuries sustained from strokes and accidents.

In 1968, Marie Paiz’s mother suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Paiz, Texas Lutheran University’s assistant registrar and veteran affairs certification officer, said the event changed her family’s lives.

“It was very hard to watch her trying to relearn everything again,” Paiz said. “She couldn’t remember her family, how to walk or how to cook. She couldn’t remember how to do anything at all. Then, in 2006, she suffered a stroke and the family had to go through the process again.”

It was during that time when Paiz found actor Kirk Douglas’ book, My Stroke Of Luck. Douglas’ memoir touches on the physical and emotional battles he faced after his stroke, along with how he was able to heal.

“I read the book in hopes of finding ways of helping my mother,” Paiz said. “Once I read it I realized it would be great if she could read it and see that not all is lost. I’m also having the students in my fall 2015 Freshman Experience course read it. I want students to come away with the message that there is help for those who have suffered from strokes and that hope is not lost. You can work to ‘heal’ yourself. I also chose it simply so that students understand it’s not only athletes or veterans who have issues with the brain.”

Paiz is also using another book with a similar theme for a directed reading assignment. Claudia Osborn’s Over My Head: A Doctor’s Own Story of Head Injury From The Inside Looking Out, gives an inside look at how people can rebuild their lives after a brain injury. She said the theme offers inspiration to those who have sustained a TBI and their families.

“This book chronicles the trials and tribulations of a doctor who suffers a TBI in a car accident,” Paiz said. “It shows how the individual doesn’t realize they have a problem until they try to cope with going to work, or dressing themselves, or even just keeping the house clean. Her message is that while you will not be the same as you were before, you can come back and maintain a life.”

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