Hi Everyone,

Corey and I enjoyed the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association’s Annual Conference. What a wonderful experience…and yes, Corey received another Standing O for her presentation.

The conference brought survivors, caregivers and professionals within the Brain Injury field together for 3 days of networking and education.

In addition to our session, we heard 2 dynamic Keynote speakers and attended several classes:
-Exploring Meditation and Mindfulness; Techniques and Resources for Cognitive Rehab therapy.
-Nutritional Supplements to Boost the Brain; The role and evidence for Nurtaceutical use
-Cognitive Rehab and OT; ‘Making the Most’ of the Concussed Brain
-Activities for Stimulation of Persons with Low Arousal
-Music and the Brain; Music Therapy’s role in Brain Injury Rehab

One of the prevailing themes throughout the sessions was Meditation. The importance of intentionally taking time everyday to stop and be quiet for a moment or two is a message for everyone, regardless of the injury or illness. We also liked the quote from one of our keynote speakers, Kevin Pearce, “give yourself a daily present by giving others your complete presence”. What a simple yet powerful sentence. How many of us are distracted by the white noise of the day rather than listening, engaging and enjoying the moment?

My favorite part of the conference was watching Corey. This year she was engaged in each session, interacting with others, initiating questions as well as interjecting comments during conversations. During the Music therapy session, the presenter asked for volunteers to come to the front of the room and help act out some of the lyrics. Corey looked at me;
C – I can’t walk
M – that’s ok, we can sit and act out the lyrics
C – no, I can’t walk up there
M – you want to volunteer?!!
C – yes, but I can’t walk up there
M – ok! Let’s roll up

She not only participated in the sing-along, but was part of demonstrating the arm movements that coordinated with the lyrics for Shel Silversteins, Unicorn song. I wish I had a video camera; she was adorable! As we returned to our seats in the back of the room, she was High-5’d by those sitting at the end of each aisle.

Throughout the conference Corey was paying close attention to all of the presenters. I also noticed that she was taking notes for some of the information she thought was important; (side note: unfortunately, she does not recall the conference or her participation but hopefully as we talk about the experience she has stored the memory and it will resurface)
Thinking of this year’s conference brings up many emotions. There are so many days we both feel “STUCK”. Most days it feels as if we’re walking on a treadmill or running on a hamster wheel that is secured to a stationary support…we’re moving forward but not really getting anywhere. We don’t stop pushing and consciously make plans to get out, try varied activities and attend events to break the daily routine. Our motivation – we know we can’t JUST focus on the mechanics of therapy.

Then, when we least expect it, we are given the rare experience that shows us the wheel has not been locked in place. The treadmill is actually more like the moving walkway at the airport. The pace of our stride hasn’t changed but we’ve been moving farther than we realized. What a gift it is to watch Corey’s evolution. Her progress continues to rejuvenate, inspire and motivate us to stay on that moving walkway. She’s going to reach the gate and although the airplanes temporarily grounded on the tarmac, one of these days it’s going to take off and she will definitely be flying solo! xoxo