Self Help





As the number of reported cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) increases in professional sports, so too does awareness of concussions at the college and amateur levels. The NFL now takes helmet to helmet contact as a serious offense after coming under intense scrutiny for allowing players to reenter the game after sustaining brain jarring hits. Professional leagues have their reputation and financial interests to consider, but what about little league players or high school athletes looking to advance their game to the next level?
The following interactive data visualization breaks down the total number of traumatic brain injuries sustained by children under 19 years of age between the years of 2001 and 2009. The data, taken from a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is categorized according to gender, age range, and sport/activity. No matter your level of expertise on the subject, the numbers have a way of speaking for themselves.

click on this link to view the interactive infograph created by 1 Point 21 Interactive:

*   1 Point 21 Interactive creates infographics, interactive pieces, data visualizations, and video to inform the public about topics ranging from NFL crime rates to prescription drug dangers.



Dementia and Brain Injury

memory loss photo


Dementia is a concern for the everyone, but for survivors of TBI, it is more than that. The link between sports related concussion and dementia has been all over the news in the past few years. If you sustained a concussion, does that mean you will develop dementia?  Not necessarily.  But, the current research toward a  particular type of dementia called CTE is raising flags for those who have suffered repeat head trauma.  The CDC describes CTE as:

  • A progressive neurodegenerative disease (tauopathy) caused by total brain trauma, and is not limited to athletes who have reported concussions.
  • The incidence and prevalence is unknown.
  • Diagnosed only after death by distinctive immunoreactive stains of the brain for Tau protein, and is not the same disease as Alzheimer’s.
  • Typical signs and symptoms include a decline of recent memory and executive function, mood and behavioral disturbances (especially depression, impulsivity, aggressiveness, anger, irritability, suicidal behavior and eventual progression to dementia).
  • Initial signs and symptoms do not typically manifest until decades after trauma received (ages 40-50).
  • read more at:

For those who want to learn more about dementia, Riley M. has shared this extensive yet easy to read post. It describes dementia and the various types that define this broad category of disease.  I found it quite helpful, and I know you will, too.:






Brain Injuries After a Car Accident

written by Farid Yaghoubtil

Farid 2

Farid Yaghoubtil is a senior partner at Downtown L.A. Law. He works compassionately with those who have been involved in catastrophic injuries.  To read more, click on the links below.

Do you have a general legal questions for Farid?  Email you question to:  Your question will be answered and posted in a future question and answer session.  

Brain Injury After a Car Accident

Car accidents are often downplayed, but many people fail to realize that traffic accidents are one of the main causes of brain injuries in the United States. Each year thousands of motorist suffer minor to traumatic brain injuries as a result of car accidents. These victims are often times unaware of their legal rights and are given low-ball offers from insurance companies.  In order to receive the compensation you deserve, there are a few things you should be aware of:

Car Accidents and Head Trauma

Brain injuries which occur from a car accident are common;  however, because most of these injuries are considered “closed head injuries” it is difficult to immediately assess the extent of the damage. Unlike open head injuries or those in which the skull has been openly penetrated, closed head injuries are easily downplayed by insurance companies attempting to minimize their compensation.

Closed head injuries from a car accident occur when there is rapid or sudden acceleration followed by an immediate or abrupt deceleration. Because our brain has a gelatinous consistency, it is not designed to handle these forces. As a result, the brain collides with the inner skull area. This collision results in what is known as a closed head injury. Depending on the force of impact or angle of impact, the severity of the injury can be moderate to severe. Small tears in the brain tissue, bruising, swelling, and even bleeding inside the brain can occur without any visible or observable signs.

In order to completely qualify or understand the extent of the injury, insurance companies initially refer to certain types of accidents to evaluate claims:

Low Impact Collisions and Brain Injuries

Low impact collisions are underestimated. Many times these injuries are the primary cause of a TBI or MTBI; however, because of the low property damage element, these injuries will be neglected or downplayed by insurance carriers. We always advise that you bring to the attention of the insurance company, not only the property damage to your vehicle, but also that of the “at fault” party. For example, your car may have damages that do not exceed $1,000, but the vehicle causing the injury can have high property damage. It is also important to consider the make and model of the vehicle causing the accident. Older vehicles can be repaired at a minimal cost, even if the damage is extensive.

Reports and studies have shown that injuries to the brain can occur at speeds as low as 7 MPH. This can depend on the age of the victims, seating positions, make and model of the vehicle and type of impact. Was it a rear end collision or a side impact collision? These are all important factors to consider when evaluating any claim. It is unreliable evidence to measure the degree of the injury against the force of impact; however, insurance companies will often times make this argument.

Rollover Accidents and Brain Injuries

Rollover accidents account for a large percentage of brain injuries each year. Many times rollovers can occur absent of a collision or other external cause. For example, at moderately high speeds, SUV’s in particular are prone to rollover.  Poor weather or road conditions can contribute rollover even at moderate speed.

Establishing Your Case

One of the most challenging elements to your claim is establishing the extent of your injuries. Many times a brain injury can require expert evaluations, MRI, CT Scans, Neurologist reports and other testing. In order to establish that a brain injury occurred, it is required that you seek professional medical help. Generally, your primary care physician can assist you in getting to the proper professionals for your injury diagnosis and assessment.

After the necessary facts are established, you will need to present your case. In order to properly present your case, you will need to draft a demand letter. A demand letter essentially sets forth the injuries, supported by medical data and a prayer for damages. Generally, these demands will have a deadline by which you must respond.

If you are drafting your own demand letter make sure to look at many samples.  If you have an attorney then they will submit this information for you.


Understanding Your Brain Injury

Written by Farid Yaghoubtil

Farid Yaghoubtil is a senior partner at Downtown L.A. Law. He works compassionately with those who have been involved in catastrophic injuries.  To read more, click on the links below.

Brain injuries are often a scary and difficult process for victims to overcome. The first part of your recovery requires understanding your injury. This guide was written with the intent to help those suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to better understand their injuries and to gain control of their life.


When determining or thinking of a brain injury, it is important to realize that brain injuries are not just caused by “blows” to the head. Brain injuries can occur when there is rapid acceleration followed by abrupt or sudden deceleration. A brain injury can occur without any type of fracture or blemish to the scalp of the victim. Thus, there does not need to be a traumatic event or blunt force trauma to the brain to suffer an injury.

Other forms of cerebral injuries can be Posttraumatic Amnesia (PTA). What is PTA? PTA is a another type of indicator or sign of a brain injury and can aid in determining the severity of the brain injury. Victims who suffer from PTA are functioning and alert but have limited ability to process or retain new memories or have severe problems with understanding or remembering past occurrences.

The science behind determining your brain injury involves the use of certain imaging and tomography testing including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerized Axial Tomography (CT). Each method provides a basis in determining the degree and severity of your injury. Issues such as the size of the legions, hemorrhaging and edema are all determined by the use of proper testing to determine the extent of your injuries.


The Effects of brain injury on an accident victim depends on which part of the brain was impacted.  Different regions of the brain control different functions of the human body, motor functions, sight, memory, speech and learning ability.

  • Occipital Lobe: Located in the back region of the brain. The Occipital lobe of the human brain controls and processes visual information gathered by the eyes.
  • Frontal Lobes: The most advanced region of the human brain. The Frontal lobe is the frontal region of the brain. The frontal lobe controls voluntary movement such as standing up and moving a glass from your table. Significant to our redevelopment, the frontal lobe controls our ability to organize information, solve problems, communicate, develop language and writing abilities, behavior control, and maintain an attention span.
  •  Parietal Lobe: The parietal lobe controls our sense of touch.
  • Temporal Lobe: The Temporal lobe is locates on the two sides of the brain and control a person hearing and stores our memories.

Which hemisphere (half) of the brain is injured also plays a significant role in the impact of a traumatic brain injury.

  • Injury to the right half of the brain; the right hemisphere of the brain controls the recognition and understanding of visual images and designs, understanding emotions and nonverbal communication.
  • Injury to the left half of the brain; the left side of the brain controls speech and language, as well as remembering words and lines of speech.


As stated above brain injuries can result from numerous causes. The most common cause is related to both vehicle and motorcycle accidents which cause serious head trauma. Other instances can result from falling from heights, pedestrian injuries, and certain types of assaults. Less frequent types of head injuries are those suffered by children. Such injuries are attributed to violent shaking or different types of abuse.

Generally serious car accidents can result is head injuries. When you are involved in a high speed collision you may experience signs or symptoms of a traumatic brain injury.


Symptoms can vary a list of certain issues can include:

  • Slowness;
  • Personality Change;
  • Poor Memory;
  • Anger/Irritability/Impatience;
  • Tiredness;
  • Tension/Anxiety/Worry;
  • Poor Concentration;
  • Depression;
  • Mood Changes;
  • Poor Balance/Coordination;
  • Restlessness;
  • Higher dependence or influence by alcohol;
  • Headache;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Teeth Hurting;
  • Neck Pain,
  • Difficulty Remembering;
  • Difficulty Concentrating;
  • Fog Like Feeling;
  • Numbness;
  • Burning Feeling in Feet;
  • Irritability;
  • Nervousness;
  • Sadness;
  • Joint Stiffness;
  • Sensitivity to Noise and Light;
  • Blurred Vision;
  • Difficulty Sleeping/Insomnia; and or
  • Fatigue


Unfortunately families suffer tremendously from brain injuries. The victims immediate family, spouse, children, mother, father or siblings are often confused and afraid after the injury. After the injury the spouse or immediate family take over as the role of care-giver.

Often times the family is forced to face the difficult realization regarding the scope and impact of the injury. The once cheerful, bright, outgoing person has had every aspect of his/her abilities diminished. Families have a difficult time understanding the scope of the injury and how to seek treatment. Additionally, they fail to realize that the victim of the injury may likely require permanent long-term care.

Family members must learn to deal with the behavioral and cognitive changes. Accepting the change and learning how to deal and cope with it is important. Understanding the mechanics of the injury and reasons for the shift in that person’s behavior is critical to helping them in their recovery. Stages of emotion include shock, denial or disbelief, sorrow, anger and adaptation to the injury.

  • Shock
  • Initially after hearing the prognosis that your loved one has a TBI the family will suffer from shock. This shock can be exaggerated by the image of your loved one in a coma, or in the ICU unit of the hospital. In such instances the family will initially feel a sense of helplessness and fear over the outcome of their loved one. In such instances it is important to stay calm and to understand all aspect of the injury. This guide will walk you through certain key words with regards to TBI’s and help you better understand the condition.
  • Denial/Disbelief
  • Denial is considered a necessary psychological defense mechanism. The families denial of the extent of the injuries and there devastating impact can help them cope with the injury and help them absorb the gravity of the situation. However, long term denial should be avoided. If you continuously deny the injury then it may inhibit the recovery of the victim and will likely reduce your likelihood of adapting the injuries. Failure to accept the injuries can result in unrealistic expectations and a consistent approach or search of treatment that does not exist.
  • Sorrow
  • Once the parents, spouse or even children of the victim understand the nature of the injury, they can be overcome with a feeling of sorrow and despondency. Much of the sorrow is from witnessing the suffering and physical change of the persons characteristics. The parents or spouse are forced to erase or forget the lifetime of dreams, hopes or ambitions they once had for the life of their child or spouse. In a sense this period becomes the grieving period. While the length of time is not defined it can last weeks, months or even years. But it is a necessary part of the healing process.
  • Anger
  • TBI’s can be a source of anger for the families. The feeling of anger resonates with the families of TBI survivors. There is no defined direction for the anger. A victims family can direct their anger towards the medical team, themselves and most commonly the cause of the injury. While the anger is normal, families should be cautious and take steps to avoid consistent anger. When the anger or frustration is not properly dealt with this can lead to destructive consequences and can further destroy the inter-family relations which are already strained.
  •  Adaptation
  • Human beings are designed to adapt. We will in time adapt to the physical conditions of the injured party and learn to deal with the condition. Adapting to the new life takes time and will eventually become a coping mechanism to dealing with the injury. Going through the stages may require intensive therapy and a strong family support system. It is important to stay connected with your family and work as a team to help overcome the difficult road to recovery.

Often times victims of traumatic brain injuries are not the only ones who suffer. Families unquestionably suffer as well. It is important to maintain a positive attitude in order to help you and your entire family during the coping process. Ultimately families and parents and loved ones are able to cope with the issues surrounding the injuries and will ultimately learn to accept them.


Brain injuries can cause serious communication deficits with regards to your language capabilities. Communication issues are not limited to speech communication and can include the processing of thoughts or ideas as well as speech function.

When you are involved in a TBI your brain can being to lack the ability to solve or develop complex thoughts or process ideas in a methodical manner. Language deficits are generally caused through closed head injuries and open head or skull fracture injuries. Lacking the ability to communicate thoughts ideas or simple language barriers are known side-effects of a TBI’s. Limited language functions are common implications of TBI cases. Victims are unable to engage in basic written language functions or verbal fluency. They often begin to stutter or develop certain language barriers which did not exist prior to the injury. In such instances any recovery or settlement should be conditioned or include the cost of added care and therapy to develop and improve the linguistic functionality of the victim.


Traumatic Brain Injury cases are some of the most difficult. They require an understanding of the brain and the future cost of care and treatment for the injuries. Many times such injuries are life-time injuries, requiring permanent care.

A key component with your TBI case is reconstructing the event. This can be difficult because many victims suffer from Post traumatic Amnesia which prevents them from remembering the incident or the facts surrounding the injury. If the accident was a result of a motor-vehicle accident then accident reconstruction experts may be called to testify as to position of the victim and other important factors.

It is important that any brain injury attorney you select is qualified in understanding your needs and assist you in procuring the highest possible benefit for your injuries.

Farid Yaghoubtil, Downtown LA Law



Are you having trouble sleeping   ???

Sleeping Problems

an excerpt from www.brainline.orgUsed with permission from, a WETA website.

Since childhood when our parents made us abide by a hard-and-fast bedtime, we’ve heard that you need a good 7 ½ -8 hours of sleep a night to stay healthy.  Without regular and restorative sleep, we can feel physically tired, mentally drained, and emotionally frazzled.

For people recovering from a traumatic brain injury, sleep is especially important, but the irony is that people with TBI often have trouble getting the quantity and quality of sleep they need.

The importance of sleep
During sleep, your brain and body recharge. Your muscles rest. Your brain sets down memories and refreshes some of its connections that allow it to function.

Sleep problems after brain injury
Sleep disturbances are one of the most common symptoms following a brain injury. Not getting good, regular sleep can impact your whole world. In fact, studies and surveys have shown that sleep disorders are three times more common in people with brain injury than that of the general population and that nearly 60 percent of people with TBI experience long-term difficulties with sleep. Women are more likely to be affected than men, and issues with sleep are more likely to develop as a person gets older.

Here are some of the side effects of not sleeping well:

  • Deepening depression and anxiety
  • A drop in one’s sense of well-being
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased irritability
  • Higher incidence of traffic or workplace accidents
  • Increased fatigue

What causes sleep problems?
Sleep is a complex process that involves many parts of the brain, so a person with a brain injury may experience all sorts of different problems, including insomnia, narcolepsy, excessive daytime sleep habits, and mixed-up sleep patterns. What can cause these issues?

  • Medications
  • Changes in breathing control
  • Physical and chemical changes
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Caffeine and nicotine
  • Daytime napping
  • Physical inactivity

Exhausted? What can you do?
To start, health professionals recommend changes in behavior and environment for treating sleep issues. These can include strategies like:

  • Getting up at the same time each day and going to sleep at the same time at night
  • Not napping for more than 20 minutes during the day
  • Avoiding eating, drinking caffeine, or smoking several hours before bedtime
  • Getting regular exercise and eating a healthful diet
  • Creating a restful atmosphere in your bedroom

If sleep patterns do not improve, a doctor can run tests and, in some instances, prescribe medications to help.

Every small change you make toward getting regular and quality sleep will help you get back to what your mother wisely advised: Remember, eight hours of sleep a night! offers many self-help articles.  Here are just a few that you might find interesting:

Fatigue and Sleep After TBI

Fatigue After Brain Injury:  BrainLine Talks with Dr. Nathan Zasler

Good Sleep Is Vital for Recovery



Dear Friends,

Our group, The Binghamton TBI Support Group, located in Binghamton, New York, meets every month to provide support and friendship to those who have survived a TBI.  We have often wished for a way to share our experiences with those who can’t be with us, so after a few months of “brain storming,” we came up with the idea of creating this letter.

We would like to share with you top six problems we struggle with most often and the best ways we have found to cope with them.  These are simple, drug-free, stress free methods that anyone can try.  Whether you are just trying to get through the day or working to overcome a problem that seems overwhelming, our simple little techniques can help you through.

We certainly realize that living with a TBI can be a lifelong challenge.  But, we think you will agree that our TBI experience has also been a good teacher.  When asked how our injury has changed us, we unanimously agreed that we were stronger, more compassionate, more considerate, years wiser, and overall better people than we were before our injury.  As CJ put it, “if you take the D off of DISABLED, you have IS ABLED.  Our “dis” abilities challenge us to look within ourselves to discover our strengths, unmask our flaws, and find a deeper meaning to our existence.

For those who are just beginning your path, we hope our letter is of service.


Society’s expectations can be overwhelming for anyone, TBI or not.  Too many demands or difficulty expressing our needs can lead to frustration, temper flare-ups or worse.  Before the “worst” happens, try this:

*Calm yourself down before you react 

  • First, close your eyes, then take 3 deep breaths.  Most people hold their breath when they are
    mad, but this just adds to their tension.
  • Next, remove yourself from the situation.  Leave the room.  Go outside. Try washing your
    face with cool water or brushing your teeth.
  • If a short change of atmosphere isn’t enough to calm you down, go for a walk.  Walking is a great way to blow off steam.
  • Try watching a comedy on television – even a few minutes of laughter will boost your mood.
  • If you can’t change your atmosphere, at least try clearing your mind for a few moments.
  • Think of a joke or something funny that you saw.  Hum a song, or listen to music.  All these
    things reduce tension and lift your spirits quickly.
  • Once you feel calmer, try talking the problem over with someone you trust.  Talking through
    a problem can help you to see it more clearly. It can also provide solutions you haven’t
    thought of.

 *Live up to your own expectations, not the expectations of others.

  • If you are having trouble expressing your needs to others, try writing them down.  Give the paper to the person you are trying to communicate with.  This will help you get your point of view across and open conversation.
  • Make a list of the things you do best, and look at the list when you feel discouraged or you feel someone is pushing you too hard.
  • Set a small short-term goal for yourself, and try to accomplish it.  A sense of accomplishment, no matter how small, can make you feel better about yourself.  Keep the goal realistic, though!
  • Don’t wait for others to give you approval or credit for a job well done – it may never happen!  Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish something.

*Do only one thing at a time.

  • Taking on too much can cause a flooding of thoughts. When this happens, the mind has trouble prioritizing tasks.  The next thing you know, you can’t get anything done because you are frustrated and can’t think straight!
  • Make a list of 3 or 4 tasks you have to complete.  Pick the first task, complete it, then check it off your list. Move on to the next task, and so on.  Congratulate yourself when you have worked your way through your list!


Unfortunately, fatigue is a common complaint with brain injury.   Difficulty sleeping is also a typical problem.

*If you’re tired during the day and can’t take a nap, try taking a short break instead:

  • Close your eyes for 15 minutes and rest, or go outside for some fresh air.
  • Listen to music that relaxes you or to a nature sound CD.
  • Have a high protein snack, take a walk, or just kick your feet up and close your eyes. Try shifting your thoughts – think about something that makes you happy.

*If you seem to be fatigued often, jot down the times of day when you feel the most tired in a journal. Do this for a week or two.  When you review your journal, do you see a pattern? Are you tired at the same time of day or after doing a certain task? Possibly, you are doing too much.  Maybe you need to adjust your schedule. A journal can also help you to create a daily plan so that you can get through the day in a way that works with your personal body rhythm.

*Keep your day structured and don’t skip meals – this can help to keep your body on track and reduce fatigue.


This is probably the most common problem of all.

*Keep a memory book.  Here’s another use for a journal.  Carry it everywhere to write down names, dates, places, and daily tasks.

  • Keep a list of the things you must do daily and check them off as you do them.
  • Write down the names of people you come in contact with often.
  • Write in all appointments, leaving space to fill in what happened at the appointment and any instructions you will need to remember.
  • If you have trouble maintaining a memory book, ask for help with it.  You can also use a mini tape recorder or an electronic organizer;

*Word association can help you to remember names and places.

*Visual or verbal hints can also make remembering easier.


You don’t need to have a brain injury to struggle here, either! And once again, expectations play a key role.

*We all hold expectations toward those we have relationships with.  When these expectations come up short, we often take it personally. Some expectations are reasonable, like asking someone to be reliable.  What isn’t reasonable?  Expecting someone to fill the empty parts of ourselves.  No one can do that.  If you aren’t happy with yourself, you can’t expect someone else to make you happy.  If you don’t like your life, no one can make it better for you.  Only you can do that.  Focus on being the best “you” that you can be.

*Create a gratitude list

  • Write down 5 things you like about your partner, caregiver, or friend, and 5 things you like about your relationship with them.

*Stay positive

  • Positive energy makes everything go easier, especially the rocky moments.

*Keep the lines of communication open

  • If you are having a “misunderstanding” with someone, repeat back to them what you think they are saying.  You both might be surprised to find that what you “hear” isn’t necessarily what they meant to say.

*Let go of the past

  • Past hurts are over.  Express how you feel about the past then move on.  Every new day is a fresh chance to create the positive, mutual relationship you both deserve.

*Control issues

  • As TBI survivors, we know first hand that life can get out of control quickly.  BUT – we have also been through the worst and there isn’t much left that we are afraid of!  The root of “control” issues is fear.  Fearful people try to control those around them so they don’t lose them.  But the irony is, they may lose them by trying to control them.
  • One of our members recommended the book Be Loved For Who You Are written by Judith Sherven and James Sanchowski as a good book on this subject.


Too much stress makes us physically and emotionally sick.

*The key to managing stress is to keep it from building up within usTry reducing stress with the following techniques:

  • Get out and make friends!  Socializing is the absolute best way to reduce stress, strengthen your mind, and create a sense of balance and contentment.
  • Use known stress reducers  such as massage, reflexology, and yoga
  • Listen to music – whatever you like best will work.
  • Take a walk or do your favorite sport
  • Get out in nature – connecting with nature has been proven to reduce stress and drug or alcohol dependency
  • Work on your favorite hobby – If you don’t have a hobby, try painting, drawing, writing, sewing, or doing puzzles.  If you come up a bit short in the art department, consider taking beginner’s class in something you admire.  Self-expression is a wonderful stress reducer.
  • Watch comedy, sad movies, or movies about the human spirit – laughing and crying are both great releases.
  • Take deep breaths periodically to increase oxygen flow.
  • Nurture something – a pet, a plant, a garden.  It will boost your mood and give you something to be proud of.


This may be the most important helpful hint of all.

*Laugh at yourself!  Try not to take yourself too seriously – it will only make you miserable.

*Watch comedy, tell jokes, and laugh whenever possible.

To summarize, live each day to the fullest! Laugh, make friends, listen to music, be creative, enjoy the gifts of nature, stay active, learn something new, stay positive, and most of all, like yourself for who you are.

We wish you love, a full and joyful life, and a generous spirit

From all of us at the BIANYS TBI Support Group

2 thoughts on “Self Help

  1. John Hathaway

    These are wonderful suggestions that I use consistently! I have learned so much from this group and have grown (I think) tremendously as a result of our monthly meetings! Thank you, Paula, for being a beacon in all of our lives, and thanks to all of our members who make our meetings (and lives) joyous and complete! Much love, John H.

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