Brain IDEAS, It’s all in Your Head

Brain IDEAS Symposium Oct 23, 2015 Denver Colorado
 By Guest Blogger Wayne Connell, Founder and President, Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA)

I’ve noticed one thing everyone is talking about nowadays is the brain. Sometimes the discussion centers on frontal lobes, brain stems, neurological pathways and wiring and firing. Other times we are in search of finding out if we are right-brained or left-brained. states:

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. For example, a person who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective. A person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective.

On a recent assessment, I scored 52 percent left-brained and 48 percent right-brained. I guess that makes me pretty even in regards to logical thinking versus intuitive thinking; maybe I’m neither logical nor intuitive (don’t ask my friends).

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Small Acts Can Have a Huge Impact

Kerri Roberts, Research Coordinator with the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM)
 By Guest Blogger Kerri Roberts, Research Coordinator with the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM)

As the first destination in the continental United States for individuals who are wounded, ill and injured in global conflicts, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), in Bethesda, Md., cares for the nation’s most seriously injured service members. Walking the halls there, especially for the first time, can be a shocking experience for many people. Certainly there were times, in my two years of recruiting patients for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) research studies at WRNMMC, when I saw things I had never imagined and faced situations that brought me to tears. But, it was also the place that I encountered some of the most courageous men and women I have ever had the honor to meet and witnessed incredible recoveries, which continue to be a daily source of inspiration. It is the first of these incredible recoveries that I would like to share.

When I met Dave (name and personal details changed to protect privacy) he was an inpatient on the Wounded Warrior floor at WRNMMC. He had been seriously injured two weeks prior in an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blast while deployed to Afghanistan. In the explosion, Dave had lost part of his right leg, lost two of his fingers and suffered a mild TBI. After being stabilized, he had been transferred from the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, to WRNMMC and, on the day we met, was awaiting yet another surgery, one of the many he would need to help repair what was left of his leg.

Upon arriving at his hospital room, I peered in and saw him lying in bed. He was skinny, frail, pale and bald. He looked decades older than the 21 year-old man I had expected to see. At the time, having only worked at WRNMMC for a few weeks, I was somewhat nervous about entering a patient’s hospital room. However, when I knocked on the door, Dave graciously welcomed me with a big smile and invited me into his room. When I told him about our research study he quickly agreed to participate, despite the time and effort it would require. I remember being surprised at how eager he was to participate in our study, especially given what he had just been through and the great challenges he still faced. But Dave, like many of the service members I would come to meet, told me that he was happy to help, that he would do anything he could to help improve care for future service members.

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Drive Safe; Nothing is Worth Your Life

Be Safe, Drive Smart

By Guest Blogger Shawn Stevenson

I have recently moved into a new neighborhood and am still getting to know the place and the people around. My neighbors are really nice. The morning I moved in they sent me a welcome lemon meringue pie and invited me for lunch since I could not have managed to whip up something yet, what with all the unpacking to be done. I happily obliged. On visiting them, I found out that a couple lived there with their daughter and aunt. The aunt was a dear old woman whom I hit it off with right away. While talking, we hit upon a certain topic that led to her relating an incident I would like to share, after having sought her permission, of course. Allow me to write from her perspective:

It was a very difficult day for all of us; little did we know that the following couple of months would be even more demanding. My nephew, David, his wife and I, were sitting together in our lounge, playing with their first and recently-born daughter. It had not yet been one week since she was born, yet we still could not help but marvel at her delicate features. She smiled in her sleep and we went crazy. She had an angelic beauty about her. But then, every baby does, or so I like to believe.

We were thanking our lucky stars for this bundle of joy when David decided we should celebrate. He was more excited than any other new dads I have seen and the excitement did not fade even after a week. So, David went to get some goodies and we did not stop him, though we had been celebrating every moment since the birth. It was really heartwarming watching him. “Cake, drinks, some pastries is all I am getting. Be back before you know it!” he said before stepping out.

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My Mom Wants People with Disabilities in the Workplace

Angela M. Hooker, Accessibility Specialist, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, U.S. General Services Administration

By Guest Blogger Angela M. Hooker, Accessibility Specialist, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, U.S. General Services Administration

The doctor should have listened to my mother.

I was barely a few months old, but my mother sensed that there was something wrong with my right eye. The doctor dismissed her as being an overprotective parent; however, she was correct. There was, in fact, something wrong with my eye. I was born with a benign pigmented growth on my optic nerve — well, as benign as it can be considering that I’m blind in my right eye.

Apparently, this is a somewhat strange and unique phenomenon because over the years when I’d go to different doctors — for ailments ranging from sore throats to sprained ankles to stomach viruses — they were fascinated not with the reason for my visit, but with what hindered my sight.

Some doctors and other people wanted and still want to discuss what they thought were limitations for me because of my eye. Enter my “overprotective” mom, again. My mother’s persistence and determination that I would not think of myself as a victim or an object of pity made me realize that I was and am capable of doing what I want and not allowing my disabilities to limit my goals. Had she not instilled these beliefs in me, it would be hard not to be overcome with self-doubt or allow others to define my capabilities.

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Get Noticed at Virtual Job Fairs

Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

In this ever-changing world of technology, one of the best hiring opportunities for jobseekers with disabilities and other challenges is a “virtual” job fair.

The advantage of virtual job fairs and chat-based interviews is profound. First of all, you can attend with an Internet connection and you don’t have to worry about wardrobe, transportation or even leaving your home.

Secondly, recruiters cannot consciously or subconsciously discriminate against you if you have a physical or visible disability because they can’t see you; they can only focus on your abilities, what you type and your skill set.

Thirdly, employers who participate in virtual job fairs often may have work-at-home jobs, which can make returning to work that much easier for many jobseekers with disabilities.

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