Rockin’ for Rehab 2018

While Rockin’ for Rehab has always been a hugely successful event benefiting our Lansing chapter, we’re working hard to re-imagine the evening of food, drink, music, and fun so that it benefits not just Lansing, but our Flint and Tri-Cities (Saginaw/Bay City/Midland) support groups as well!

More good news: We’re also exploring how to provide transportation for survivors who wish to attend Rockin’ for Rehab.

Details will be shared as soon as possible, but for save-the-date purposes, this year’s Rockin’ for Rehab will be held Friday, December 7, at the Michigan State University Club from 6:30 pm – 11:30 pm. Perennial favorite Dr. Fab and his Off the Couch Band will perform your favorite hits from the 1950’s – 60’s. Admission is $65 per person.

For attendees desiring hotel accommodations, a block of rooms has been set aside at the adjacent Candlewood Suites. When making reservations, be sure to use the block name “Rockin’ for Rehab-BIAMI” and enter block code “RFR” to reserve a room. Candlewood Suites reservations can be reached at (517) 351-8181.

Quality of Life Conference 2018

BIAMI is excited to announce we’re expanding this year’s Quality of Life Conference to include four new, informative, and very timely sessions. Here’s a sneak preview:

  • Dealing with Phone, Mail, and E-scams, presented by the Michigan Attorney General’s office
  • Sexuality and Relationships after a Traumatic Brain Injury, presented by Deborah Adams from Eisenhower Center
  • Healthy Eating for a Healthy Brain, with Dr. Sarah Wice and Emily White from Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation
  • Creating Your Recovery Based on Your Unique Talents, presented by Courtney Wang from Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center and survivor Barbaranne Branca.

As always, one of our major Conference objectives is to ensure all attendees have access to transportation services should they need it, regardless of location. We’ll pass along further transportation information as we line up sponsors.

The Quality of Life Conference will be held November 5 at the Crown Plaza in Lansing from 9 AM to 3 PM. Registration is open to survivors, caregivers, and professionals, so make plans to join us for a positive and rewarding experience!

Now Showing: “Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0”

Behind every mask created for Unmasking Brain Injury is a survivor with a story to tell. Now in the second year of this important and successful program – we call it Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0 -- BIAMI has endeavored to give more survivors a chance to be seen and their stories heard.

For this year’s project, BIAMI partnered with Sean Bowman from Captured Screens Productions to produce videos featuring twelve survivors and their masks. When on display, the masks will have QR codes that can be electronically scanned to pull up a video of the mask’s creator. Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0 made its official debut at the 2018 Fall Conference in mid-September.

For those unfamiliar with scanning QR codes or need help downloading a QR code reader app, an instructional video is available on our YouTube channel.

Soon after our 2018 Fall Conference, we began sharing these Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0 videos via social media every Wednesday and Friday. As each video is shared, it will also be made available on BIAMI’s YouTube Channel. All twelve videos will be available on our channel by October 26 and we encourage you to view as many as possible.

A list of the featured videos, as well as the QR code reader instructional video and the Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0 videos as they become available, can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/user/BrainInjuryAssocMI/videos.

If you have an Unmasking Brain Injury mask and would like to participate in Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0, or would like to create a mask for the project, please contact Diane Dugan at

It Opened My Eyes: “Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0” Videographer Shares his Thoughts

As a videographer, a big part of what I do is capture moments and create experiences out of those moments through storytelling. As I build a story through editing, it’s crucial to carefully listen to each interview in its entirety to put together the most cohesive final product. Often times during my editing process, I cannot help but immerse myself into the story being told by that individual. Prior to each interview with the brain injury survivors, I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect, but what I learned is that you can overcome any adversity with great support and the desire to keep moving forward in spite of.

I was informed during many of the interviews that brain injuries are sometimes undetectable to the average onlooker. Through the testimonies of these survivors, I’ve witnessed the obligations they have to reinforce to others that, even after their unfortunate causes and situations, they are still human beings who are capable of joy, love, and deserving of happiness.

This project was special to me because it opened my eyes to a situation that is poorly represented and discussed. However, I am excited that these survivors have a platform such as the Brain Injury Association for Michigan to tell their story, inform the masses, and possibly give hope to other survivors just like themselves. This experience has been great for me and I am glad that I had the chance to be a part of it!

Thank you,

Sean Bowman
Captured Screens Productions, LLC

TBI Survivors and Addiction Risk

Pictured above: Angela Haas, author of blog post

You have likely dealt with substance abuse before, whether it’s in your family, a friend of a friend, or someone you are working with now. If so, you know that substance abuse has an effect on everyone, but that effect is especially dangerous for those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

For brain injury survivors, alcohol and drugs can increase the likelihood of seizures, and can also have dangerous interactions with individuals’ prescribed medications. In addition, alcohol and drugs affect our brains differently, and can have a much more powerful effect on someone with a brain injury.

Just as importantly, alcohol and drug use may increase the likelihood of re-injury, as survivors under the influence are more likely to engage in behaviors such as impaired driving, or suffer difficulties with balance or impulsive decision making.

Some of the most bothersome cognitive impacts of TBI include issues with decision-making (mentioned above), as well as problem solving, short-term memory, low inhibition, and decreased awareness. Alcohol and drugs can exacerbate all of these symptoms, unquestionably impacting recovery -- which is why complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs is the healthiest and safest choice to aid in brain injury recovery and sustainability.

Risk Factors for Addiction

  • Alcohol/Drug use or dependence prior to obtaining their brain injury
  • History of mood disorders
  • Current depressive disorder or symptoms of depression
  • Addiction to tobacco
  • Family history of addiction
  • Poor social skills
  • Poverty
  • Early use in adolescence
  • Stress at home
  • Unhelpful support group or lack of natural supports
  • Lack of health insurance or access to health care

Questions to ask if you fear that you or someone you love may have an addiction and need support

  • Do they go through withdrawals if/when they stop using?
  • Do they have to take larger amounts or over a longer time period than intended?
  • Has their use resulted in a failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home?
  • Have they continued to use despite continuous problems with using?
  • Have they made unsuccessful attempts to cut down?
  • Do they have cravings, or a strong desire to use?
  • Have they given up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of use?
  • Do they continue to use in situations where it is physically hazardous?
  • Do they continue to use despite knowledge of having physical/psychological dependence?
  • Do they spend a great deal of their time obtaining, using, or recovering from its effects?

Want help?

There are many avenues to find support, whether one has commercial insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or no insurance at all. You can call your local Behavioral Health Authority, and talk to someone who can immediately assess your need for treatment and link you to the appropriate resources. Treatment can involve medical supervision, individual or group therapy, peer support, 12 step recovery, case management, family therapy, and psychiatric services.

Below are several links depending on your need:

If any of these apply to someone you know, show that person that you care, are concerned, and are there to support them! Understand that there are likely reasons they do what they do:

  • Self-medicate for severe/chronic pain from their injuries
  • Cope with the trauma that they have endured
  • Try to combat their symptoms of depression due to a loss they have experienced in their life
  • Escape from their new reality
  • Use due to an underlying mental health condition

You can use the resources above, or contact a professional who can help you get connected. You can also contact the BIAMI staff to help you connect with helpful resources. Stay strong, supportive, and realize that they may be doing the best they can, in this moment, to get through whatever difficulties they may be facing.

Angela M. Haas, LMSW CAADC is a licensed master’s level social worker with her certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor certification. She works with Special Tree Rehabilitation Systems in their outpatient clinic in Midland and Saginaw.

Survivor Spotlight: Jodi Byers

Kindergarten teacher, brain injury survivor, and newly crowned Mrs. Michigan America 2018, Jodi Byers is using her pageant platform to help BIAMI raise awareness of brain injury and tell her dramatic story to the public and survivor community.

While working at a church camp following her sophomore year at Hope College, Jodi fell and hit her head twice, once on a counter during the fall and again on the concrete floor. Her initial reaction was that it was just a concussion, nothing of any real concern. She immediately returned to working at the camp and flew home a week later.

The extent of Jodi’s injury did not start to manifest until after she returned home and her condition then worsened to the point where she had to take a semester off from college. Jodi was unable to read beyond five minutes without her vision blurring and had difficulties with pattern recognition. Additionally, she had short-term memory loss, issues with perception, and daily migraines. Any single one of these ensured that collegiate study was impossible until she had recovered, and Jodi struggled with them all at once.

As a normally positive and upbeat young woman, Jodi’s physical, cognitive, and psychological challenges made that outlook almost impossible to maintain. “I had a month of falling into deep depression because I didn't think life would ever become the same. I have been blessed with an amazingly supportive family and if it weren't for them, I don't know what I would have done!” Her condition led to a reexamination of her life and goals, and during this period she realized she wanted nothing more than to help others become the best possible versions of themselves. It is what she felt she was meant to do. Through this realization, she found the strength and resolve to work toward recovery.

Six months later, Jodi was back in college. Since then, she graduated from Hope College, was married, competed and won the title of Mrs. Michigan America 2018, and will soon be competing for the national title of Mrs. America. Since her recovery, Jodi has been dedicated to raising awareness for brain injury. Even before competing for Mrs. Michigan America, she started an online concussion group through Facebook called “Maintain the Brain.” Best of all, today she no longer experiences lingering effects of her brain injury. When asked, Jodi recognizes how unique her recovery was. “I am blessed to have no reoccurring symptoms, but many survivors still do. Therefore, I urge people to be patient, be supportive, and offer grace to fellow brain injury survivors.”

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Lightouse Neurological Rehabilitation Center