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Joanne Susi

"My life is separated into before and after. Before, I was a Senior Clinical Research Associate assisting in clinical trails with CAP working with Dana Farber, Tufts, Johns Hopkins, and others in Cancer research. Now I am a survivor and lucky to be alive". Read Kristin's story

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Dr. Harold Wilkinson

With the help of friends, a strong faith, mutual support and an abiding love for our son, we survived our ordeal...

As a neurosurgeon and the father of a young adult son who lingered and died following a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), Dr. Harold Wilkinson encountered TBI both as a caregiver and as a family member.  During two decades at UMass Medical Center, he directed the neurotrauma unit, providing emergency care for TBI and spinal cord injury victims (SCI).  Dr. Wilkinson also taught neurosurgical residents, medical students, nurses and other caregivers and pursued research to better understand and manage these devastating problems.

" My wife, my other son, and I together faced the terror and heartbreak of my son's devastating injury. With the help of friends, a strong faith, mutual support and an abiding love for our son, we survived our ordeal."

"Injuries to the brain and spinal cord strike at the very heart of human existence and can impair any and all functions, including consciousness, thought, speech, movement, perception, emotions, and unconscious bodily controls," he said. "The rate of recovery is often slow but persistent. Lost brain tissue cannot be regrown, but damaged brain or spinal cord tissue can gradually heal, and the brain has a remarkable set of "backup" systems which can be trained to take over many lost functions."

"Roughly one half of brain and spinal cord recovery takes place in the first  six months, and then the rate slows. Recovery can be maximized by personal effort on the part of the TBI survivor and by support and motivation from families as well as from professional caregivers," he adds. "Patients with severe TBI commonly deal with related or secondary medical conditions, and lifestyle changes may be necessary to resume a full and gratifying life."

"Survivors and families should be alert to secondary conditions which can delay recovery, including fluid in and around the brain, subdural hematomas, and seizures or convulsions.  Family members and spouses may react emotionally to these changes, so continuing support is essential."

"Dealing with the complexity of the medical establishment during acute care and rehabilitation can be frustrating and overwhelming.  Survivors and families should actively seek information from professionals regarding care and advocacy. The BIA-MA is a valuable asset in each of these areas and is always available to provide support, advocacy, education and guidance."

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