Archive for the ‘TBI’ Category

Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Living with a traumatic brain injury is a challenging experience.

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A brain injury changes your life forever. Today, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are associated with a broad number of neurological, psychological, and physical injuries that drastically impact how someone responds to the world around them. These changes are often behavioral, physical, and permanent. Many patients who suffered from a traumatic brain injury require assistance from friends and family indefinitely.

If you’ve suffered from a traumatic brain injury recently, these tips can help you learn to live with the change for years to come.

Managing Symptoms

A traumatic brain injury might result in everlasting symptoms and consequences. It can make thinking clearly and concisely extremely difficult. Most patients have trouble remembering crucial information, such as their birthday or how to operate a motor vehicle properly. There are also many physical symptoms that may appear, including trouble sleeping, constant headaches, dizziness, and visual impairment, not to mention the recurring pain many experience.

Additionally, there are psychological issues plaguing patients. These range from mood disorders and constant anger to anxiety or even sadness.

To properly manage these symptoms, the individual requires support from those surrounding them. Friends, family, and doctors are a necessity. There are also tools available to make life easier. On mobile phones, there are calendar apps to remember important dates and reminders you can set. In person, you can display a whiteboard in the kitchen or near the front door. Notes, dates, and important information can be written down for ease.

Techniques to Improve Memory

Following a severe traumatic brain injury, one of the primary neurological issues is a loss of memory. Some experience short-term memory loss or have trouble remembering important information. There are techniques designed to improve memory-related issues, which include:

  • Creating a structured routine for each day, including daily tasks and various activities.
  • Using aids, such as notebooks, calendars, schedules, task lists, or cue cards as reminders for various tasks.
  • Devoting time to reviewing and practicing new information.
  • Getting good sleep to reduce anxiety and memory troubles.
  • Speaking with doctors about how medications affect memory.

For maximum effectiveness, these techniques must be utilized regularly. You cannot set up a schedule, adhere to it for a week, then decide to stop performing the tasks. Regularity is key.

Complex Tasks

Many people suffering from traumatic brain injuries find themselves struggling with complex tasks like doing laundry, managing a checkbook, or driving their vehicle. Unfortunately, they may also have trouble recognizing that they are struggling with these tasks. They continue to perform them to the best of their abilities, but it may be up to their friends and families to offer extra support with challenging tasks.

If you or a loved one suffered from a traumatic brain injury, visit the TryMunity community for more information on living with a traumatic brain injury and support from fellow members.

How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

Doctor analyzing images from a MRI. TryMunity.

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Without a doubt, you have a million questions when someone close to you is being treated for a head injury. Traumatic brain injuries are always unexpected, and when they occur, things need to happen quickly in order for the victim to receive the proper emergency medical care as soon as possible. Professionals use several tests and measurement scales to diagnose a patient with a TBI, which help determine the severity of the patient’s condition after the initial impact.

The Glasgow Coma Scale

The Glasgow Coma Scale was developed in 1974 by Graham Teasdale and Bryan Jennett. This devised scale assesses three conditions: a person’s ability to open their eyes; their ability to speak; and their motor skills. The scores derived from these three categories are added together in order to assess whether a person has a mild, moderate, or severe TBI. A patient that scores higher than 13 is classified as mild, a score between a 9 and a 12 is moderate, and any score at an 8 or below means that a person has a severe traumatic brain injury. The Glasgow Coma Score provides a great foundation for assessment after the initial impact to the head. Memory loss and consciousness are also factored in when determining mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injuries.

Testing Cognition and Neuropsychology

After the initial shock has passed, medical personnel will perform tests to see how the patient responds to various cognitive and motor exercises. This will give them a better idea as to the severity of the patient’s condition, as well as their rehabilitation needs moving forward. The cognitive tests will involve problem-solving, memory, thinking, and reasoning exercises. Neuropsychological tests are cognition-focused, but will also employ the use of basic motor functions to give comprehensive insights.

Speech Tests

One of the more common ways that traumatic brain injuries affect people is through speech. People who struggle with speech are often challenged by their weakened ability to control the muscles they use to speak, a condition called dysarthria. Speech and language tests will be administered by a speech-language pathologist to assess muscle coordination, witness the pace, volume, and tone of voice, observe retained reading and writing abilities, and evaluate vocabulary.

Join TryMunity

If you are faced with long-term challenges from a traumatic brain injury, you are not alone. There is a community of people across the nation who are facing similar challenges. By joining TryMunity, you are saying “yes” to connections, friendships, and watching others with TBIs succeed in their recovery journey! Join today by visiting http://community.trymunity.com/.

What Are the Signs of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Man being examined by a doctor. TryMunity.

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Nothing can be more jarring for a parent or a loved one than awaiting a traumatic brain injury diagnosis. TBIs often happen in the blink of an eye, setting a person up for ongoing challenges as they move forward through life. Traumatic brain injuries can occur as the result of a car accident, an athletic injury, or even a bike accident without a helmet. Should a loved one encounter an injury, it’s crucial to know the signs of a TBI in order to provide the survivor with the appropriate medical attention.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Mild traumatic brain injury is a condition that requires medical attention. Concussions are an example of a mild TBI; they can range in severity and are especially common in athletes. Surprisingly, mild traumatic brain injuries may not fully present themselves for weeks after the impact occurs. They can affect people physically, cognitively, and sensorially. Physical signs to be on the lookout for include: loss of consciousness, confusion, headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness that affects balance, fatigue, and issues with speech. In terms of cognition, be observant of mood swings that are uncharacteristic, memory issues, problems with concentration, anxiety, and observed feelings of depression. Lastly, mild traumatic brain injuries can affect people sensorially, causing someone with a mild TBI to be sensitive to light and sound, have blurry vision, experience ringing in the ear or hearing complications, and even notice issues with their sense of smell.

Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries are, as expected, even more concerning than mild TBIs; the survivor often has a long-term recovery ahead of them, both mentally and physically. This range of TBI is recognized as serious right away. Signs can include: the loss of consciousness for minutes to hours, vomiting that does not cease, coordination issues, seizures or convulsions, clear fluids coming from the ears or nose, and more. The mental symptoms can be even more frightening; someone you know and love can be unusually obstinate, extremely confused, unable to speak correctly, or even comatose. If you witness or experience any of these symptoms, it’s imperative that you get medical attention as soon as possible. Babies and younger children cannot express many symptoms that can be recognized easily in adults; if an accident occurs and they suffer an injury to their head, they should be taken to a hospital regardless of their visible physical condition.

If You Receive a TBI Diagnosis, Join TryMunity Today

If you or someone close to you endures a traumatic brain injury, there are undoubtedly concerns about what happens next. Every person is different and will require different steps during their recovery process. But, you should never feel alone on your journey. TryMunity was created to serve as an outlet and means of connecting people living with TBIs across the nation. Join this online community today by visiting http://community.trymunity.com/.

The Consequences That a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Have on Your Speech

Graphic illustrating the effects of traumatic brain injury. TryMunity.

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A traumatic brain injury changes lives forever. Because our brains are the epicenter for our entire bodies, when a TBI occurs, major functions are disrupted. These include motor skills, thinking and problem-solving abilities, and sensory processing. Some of the most concerning difficulties often faced by TBI survivors are issues with their speech and linguistic skills. It’s important to understand why these consequences occur, and what a patient can do to improve their effects.

Dysarthria

Dysarthria is one of the main reasons that traumatic brain injury survivors have difficulties with their speech. Dysarthria is considered a motor speech disorder that affects the way the muscles we use to talk move. Essentially, the muscles are weakened, which can affect the pace of speech, the volume, and the tone. It can range from mild to severe based on the case in question. When the face, lips, tongue, and throat – combined with the need for breathing – can’t keep up, it can become frustrating when a patient fails to speak as intended. But, there are ways that a TBI patient can practice and hopefully improve. A speech-language pathologist can devise a plan that will focus on muscle strengthening, breathing, and speaking clearly. It’s important for the loved ones of a TBI survivor to be supportive and patient; they may be at a greater risk for developing depression and experiencing social difficulty from their challenges with communication.

Apraxia

Apraxia can be linked to dysarthria. Apraxia is a motor-speech disorder that affects the messages sent from your brain to the muscles needed to speak. A traumatic brain injury can affect this transmission process. Apraxia is also referred to by professionals as “acquired apraxia of speech,” “verbal apraxia,” or “dyspraxia.” This disorder can prove frustrating when patients have difficulty producing the correct sounds when they speak, which can lead to the misuse of words. It can be incredibly disheartening when a patient knows what to say but can’t properly verbalize it. A speech-language pathologist can help a TBI patient improve muscle movement through exercise, improve pace and sound through speech practice, and, if the case is extreme, help them communicate in new ways.

Join TryMunity

Trouble with communication can be one of the most frustrating issues a TBI victim can face. To combat the risk of falling into depression and a feeling of isolation, find a community of individuals you can talk to. That’s why TryMunity was created; it’s an entire online community for traumatic brain injury survivors and their families to connect with others experiencing similar challenges. If you or a loved one are facing the new world of life with a TBI, you’re not alone. Join today by visiting http://community.trymunity.com/.

Can Someone Die From a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury can have severe, long-lasting consequences.

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There have been rare cases in which an individual who suffered a traumatic brain injury passed away, many years later, with no obvious signs or cause of death. There are generally no signs of foul play in such cases, either. Experts are still unclear on what would lead to such an unexpected passing, however. All signs of the traumatic brain injury were addressed. Why would someone simply die from their injury many years later? So, can someone die from a traumatic brain injury? Absolutely, but the circumstances surrounding such a death are often mysterious and basked in questions.

Brain Injuries May Increase Risk of an Early Death

According to recent studies, an individual who has suffered from a traumatic brain injury may experience a higher risk of early death. The risks that typically follow include another brain injury, assault, and suicide. Furthermore, the risks of psychiatric or drug abuse issues are also dramatically increased following a brain injury. According to lead researcher Dr. Seena Fazel, a Wellcome Trust research fellow at the University of Oxford in England, “patients have a threefold increased risk of dying prematurely.” Three times more likely! That is a profound increase.

Furthermore, the same study revealed that 61 percent of traumatic brain injury patients suffered from psychiatric or substance abuse issues. In some cases, these issues were often present before the injury, while others developed them after their injury.

TBI Facts

We have discussed that it is entirely possible for an individual to pass away earlier than expected because of a past traumatic brain injury. Let us now explore the facts surrounding traumatic brain injuries one step further:

• In 2013, nearly 2.8 million traumatic brain injury patients were brought to emergency rooms.
• Traumatic brain injuries also accounted for nearly 50,000 deaths.
• From 2007 to 2013, the rate at which TBI victims passed away decreased by 5 percent, while emergency room visits increased by nearly 47 percent.

Traumatic brain injuries are quite severe. However, in recent years, as we can see by the increase in emergency room visits, recognition and understanding of the issue at hand have become more pronounced across the country. With sports being the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries, greater steps are taken to promote health and well-being both on the field/track and off.

Currently, the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries is actually bicycling. Most people would say football, boxing, or wrestling. However, bicycle accidents tend to cause more traumatic brain injuries than any other type of activity or sport. It truly pays to remain safe and take precautions against such injuries while performing any strenuous or potentially dangerous activities. Wearing a helmet, for example, can save your life and reduce the chance of a traumatic brain injury.

If you or someone you know has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, support them in any way possible. When you need support of your own, know that TryMunity is the leading community for traumatic brain injury patients and their families.

Lean more about TryMunity and join our network today at community.trymunity.com!

Sports With the Most Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury requires immediate medical attention.

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Despite their prevalence, sports-related injuries rarely lead to fatalities. However, when such injuries do lead to death, the leading cause is a traumatic brain injury. In fact, around 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children and adolescents are due to sports activities. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 446,788 sports-related head injuries occurred in the United States in 2009. That is an increase of nearly 100,000 since 2008. Today, the numbers are even higher. The types of sports vary, as do the level of injury. That does not lessen their impact in any way, though.

Sports Injuries

According to the statistics from research performed in 2009, there are 20 sports or recreational activities that contribute to traumatic brain injuries across the United States. Some of these sports are genuinely surprising. Let us take a look:

  • Cycling: 85,389
  • Football: 46,948
  • Baseball and Softball: 38,394
  • Basketball: 34,692
  • Water: 28,716
  • Powered Recreational: 26,606
  • Soccer: 24,184
  • Skateboards/Scooters: 23,114
  • Fitness/Exercise/Health Club: 18,012
  • Winter Sports: 16,948
  • Horseback Riding: 14,466
  • Gymnastics/Dance/Cheerleading: 10,223
  • Golf: 10,035
  • Hockey: 8,145
  • Other Ball Sports and Balls, Unspecified: 6,883
  • Trampolines: 5,919
  • Rugby/Lacrosse: 5,794
  • Roller and Inline Skating: 3,320
  • Ice Skating: 4,608

It is incredibly surprising to learn that, despite what most people think, football is not the number one sports-related cause of traumatic brain injuries. The contact sport still leads to plenty of head injuries across the nation, however, cycling takes the number one spot. Far too many individuals do not wear their helmet while cycling, or they wear an improperly-sized helmet that could fall off during an accident. Either way, the situation leads to traumatic brain injuries quite often.

Levels of Sports-Related TBIs

Following any sort of head injury during sports or recreational activities, a thorough medical evaluation is required. During the evaluation, most injured patients will undergo a neurocognitive test before anything else. A baseline must be established for normal brain function, including tests of memory, attention, problem-solving, and other mental capabilities.

Furthermore, following such an injury, there is a grading system used to determine the severity of the traumatic brain injury. It is as follows:

  • Grade 1 – Mild physical trauma, such as a contusion or bump.
  • Grade 2 – Headaches, often migraine-like, with accompanying symptoms.
  • Grade 3 – Mild traumatic brain injury, often with a sudden change to mental capacity or consciousness.
  • Grade 4 – TBI with loss of consciousness for over 1 minute, amnesia for longer than 30 minutes, but less than 24 hours.
  • Grade 5 – Severe TBI, often life-threatening, with physical injuries, internal bleeding, increased intracranial pressure, loss of consciousness, amnesia lasting longer than 24 hours.

A traumatic brain injury, no matter the grade or severity, can be quite dangerous if not examined by a medical professional immediately. Please do not hesitate to seek out medical assistance. Either go to an emergency room or your family doctor, depending on the severity of the injury, quickly.

TryMunity is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing awareness and offering support to traumatic brain injury survivors and their families. See support of your own by joining our network at community.trymunity.com.

What’s the Right Treatment for a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury often requires prompt treatment that comes in numerous forms.

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There are numerous types of traumatic brain injury (TBI) affecting over 1.5 million Americans every single year. As a consequence of such injuries, over 230,000 are hospitalized, while nearly 50,000 succumb to their injuries and pass away. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these numbers are rising each year. Despite the profound advances in TBI research and treatment, more and more individuals are suffering injuries from sports, accidents, and attacks. With a large number of TBIs, treatment can vary – and finding the right one could mean success for the future.

Initial TBI Assessment

Immediately following a traumatic brain injury, the medical staff on the case will need some background information on the incident. They will ask a few questions of anyone who was at the scene. For example, some questions may include:

  • How did the injury occur?
  • Did the injured person lose consciousness?
  • How long did they lose consciousness?
  • Were there any immediate changes in speaking or coordination?
  • What part of the head was struck?

Such questions can help determine the severity of the traumatic brain injury. From there, the doctor may order one of two imaging tests:

  • Computerized Tomography or CT Scan – A test performed in the emergency room for a suspected TBI. The CT Scan utilizes X-rays for a detailed image of the brain.
  • MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging – An MRI uses radio waves and magnets to produce an image of the injured brain. Typically, an MRI is scheduled after the injury has stabilized.

TBI Treatment

The treatment for a traumatic brain injury varies, depending on the level of severity. Generally, traumatic brain injuries are broken down into categories of mild or severe. From there, treatment is scheduled based on the needs of the patient. A few options include emergency care, medication, surgery, rehabilitation, or for mild injuries, simple rest and relaxation.

Medications

There are a few types of medication used to treat a TBI, such as:

  • Diuretics – Drugs designed to reduce the fluid in tissues and increase urine production – they reduce pressure on the brain.
  • Anti-Seizure Medication – Designed for moderate to severe TBI to reduce the risk of seizures within the first week.
  • Coma-Inducing Drugs – For severe TBI that requires a temporary comatose state to limit the amount of oxygen required by the brain.

Surgery

Depending on the situation, emergency surgery may be used to treat a traumatic brain injury. Surgical options include:

  • Removing clots – Bleeding outside or inside the brain often leads to clotted blood (hematoma) that puts immense pressure on the brain.
  • Fractures – To repair a skull fracture, surgery may be required to remove pieces of the skull and repair broken portions.
  • Bleeding – Head injuries often lead to internal bleeding that must be stopped promptly.
  • Pressure – In many cases, creating a “window” to the brain can help relieve some of the pressure on the injury by draining cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to make room for swelling.

If you or someone you know has suffered a traumatic brain injury, you may find support for this situation through TryMunity. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at (844) 838-2900 – we are here to help.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

There are many forms of traumatic brain injury that lead to life-changing effects.

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Today, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are among the most common form of injury to the brain. Each year, 52,000 lives are claimed due to traumatic brain injuries, while as many as 1.7 million people are affected worldwide. Most often, traumatic brain injuries refer to physical trauma to the head, though not all incidents produce the same amount or type of damage. Many TBIs are minor, in fact, with only short-term symptoms being displayed by the patient. Others, however, lead to massive brain damage that permanently reduces the individual’s ability to function. Either way, a TBI must be diagnosed and treated immediately.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Again, no matter the severity of the injury, a traumatic brain injury should be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. There is no use in waiting, as the situation will only worsen. Here are the most common types of traumatic brain injuries:

Coup-Contrecoup Brain Injury

A coup-contrecoup brain injury occurs when the patient endures significant impact directly to the brain. The brain is then slammed into the side of the skull. The resulting damage is both at the impact site and opposite side, due to the brain smashing against the interior of the skull. Such events are typically quite violent, such as serious car accidents, forceful falls, or incidents involving acts of physical violence.

Concussion

A concussion is, hands-down, the most common form of traumatic brain injury. While often considered one of the mildest forms of TBI, concussions do account for hundreds of thousands of trips to the emergency room annually. Most commonly, a concussion is caused by a sudden blow to the head, such as during a car accident, slip and fall, or sports game.

Brain Contusion

A brain contusion often sounds worse than the reality. Typically, a brain contusion is nothing more than a bruise – mild bleeding underneath the skin. Similar to a concussion, a brain contusion can worsen if the bleeding does not stop of its own accord. Then, the situation must be handled surgically.

How TBI Affects Patients

The effects of a mild to severe traumatic brain injury can have quite the long-lasting, and sometimes permanent, effect on your life. Of course, recovery and rehabilitation are both possibilities. However, many people suffering from severe TBI tend to face challenges requiring them to adapt to their new situation altogether – even with treatment.

First and foremost, traumatic brain injuries can lead to permanent physical or mental disabilities. Polytrauma is quite common in mild to severe TBI. Furthermore, skills and abilities once held by the individual may no longer feel as possible, or as sharp as they once were. Even after a full recovery, abilities may be hindered.

Finally, there are ongoing challenges to consider. Any form of brain injury often leads to slower cognitive abilities. It takes longer to remember things or to count. The change is noticeable.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, contact TryMunity. We are the leading support network for individuals and families who have suffered through brain injury. Give us a call at (844) 838-2900.

Could a Childhood TBI Have Long-Lasting Effects?

Doctor showing a sign that has traumatic brain injury written. TryMunity.

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Traumatic brain injury is a heartbreaking occurrence in a person’s life, and they can happen to anyone of any age. In such a short span of time, world’s change. Children are not immune, and unfortunately can be affected in their later life as they continue to develop. Contrary to popular belief that children can heal much easier than adults after a TBI, “…recent research demonstrates that the younger a child at the time of injury, the greater the possibility of long-term developmental challenges,” according to Brainline. A childhood traumatic brain injury can have lasting effects, both physically and cognitively.

Lasting Cognitive Challenges

The quote above was in correlation to the belief that young children who are affected by traumatic brain injury are able to recover much easier than adults with TBI do. But this is not the case, especially depending on how young the child is when they experience their accident. It can actually be much more complicated for children with traumatic brain injuries; their bodies are in constantly changing stages of development and their brains are not able to keep up at the same rate of maturation. For this reason, the true extent of cognitive challenges often will take some time to fully present themselves. The effects are always different from person to person, but the cognitive functions that may be impaired include: memory, ability to problem-solve, personality changes, and communicative abilities. Furthermore, as child TBI victims continue to age, there can be stalling periods in their behavioral and social development that can be a hindrance to establishing relationships and being able to hold employment.

Physical Challenges

There are many potential physical challenges your child may continue to deal with as they age. Physical challenges are largely related to the extent and severity of the accident that caused their traumatic brain injury. Common physical challenges of children who suffer traumatic brain injuries can include: trouble with their balance, motor skills and coordination, paralysis, seizures, and continuous fatigue.

TryMunity Is Waiting for You

If you suffered a traumatic brain injury when you were young and are still experiencing lasting effects from it, TryMunity is waiting for you. This is a website created to offer TBI survivors a safe space to network, share their stories and experiences, update their therapy progress, and more. It is an exclusive space, and we know you will not regret joining the TryMunity family! Visit us today at http://www.trymunity.com/.

How a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Affect Your Memory

Illustration of the human brain being erased. TryMunity

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Without a doubt, a traumatic brain injury affects you in many different ways, including your memory after the accident. The severity of memory loss will vary from person to person, but there are some commonalities that can be found among TBI survivors. Here are some of the ways you can anticipate traumatic brain injury to affect your memory, or the memory of a loved one.

Short-Term Memory Is More Likely to Be Affected

It is pretty normal to expect moderate to severe traumatic brain injury survivors to experience some form of memory issues. But, fortunately, it is much more likely for long-term memory to be left untouched; short-term memory is typically what is most affected. This can prove to be just as frustrating, however, because someone who struggles with short-term memory issues will forget important details, have the tendency to lose things, be unable to recall details of their day or something they just did, etc.. It can be very frustrating for them, so patience is necessary.

Prospective Memory

Your prospective memory includes things that you plan to do in the future. These could be doctor’s appointments, errands or places that you need to go, important occasions, and other similar instances. This can be especially upsetting for new TBI survivors. Though they are still adjusting to life with their condition, they may feel as though they are constantly making mistakes.

Trouble Linking Things Together

Perhaps it is your first time getting together with friends and family after the incident that resulted in your traumatic brain injury. People are coming up and hugging you, asking how you are, and you recognize all of them. But for the life of you, you cannot remember some of their names, even if you have known them for years. This is one of the ways TBI can affect memory. You can struggle to put names to faces or have trouble inserting the right word in conversation, despite having retained excellent vocabulary skills.

Join TryMunity Today

These are only some of the ways that traumatic brain injury can affect your memory moving forward. Everyone’s experience will be different, but one thing that every TBI survivor has in common is their desire to not feel alone in their new way of life. This is precisely why TryMunity was created: to be a community for traumatic brain injury survivors and their families to share their stories with one another. Join TryMunity today at http://www.trymunity.com.