Stories with image Archives - The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey

Stories with image


For Mike, competition is in his blood. As a 34-year professional race car driver, he possesses the resilience needed to get to the finish line and succeed. Today, Mike is striving towards the most important finish line in his life: recovering from brain injury.

Mike sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in a car crash in Atlantic City. The crash was witnessed by his wife, Renee, and his 8-year old son. Months after the crash, Mike returned home to recover with his family, but they needed BIANJ’s help. “I was quickly supported and welcomed into the BIANJ family,” said Renee. The family attended the first-ever Adopt-a-Family party the following December, where Renee told staff, it was “the first time I saw my son smile since his dad’s injury.”

Throughout the years, the family has received many services through BIANJ’s CARES program. CARES staff work to help them understand brain injury and connect them to much needed resources. They also attend school and doctor meetings with the family to advocate for their needs. Mike is continuing his rehabilitation and is making progress in his recovery. He is determined to win this race for himself and his family.

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Shango’s Story

Shango was an energetic and creative 22 year-old student studying illustration when he was involved in a motor vehicle crash. After the crash, he spent six months in an acute rehab, then was transferred to a long-term nursing facility. While he has made some progress in his therapies, he remains in a minimally conscious state, unable to walk, talk or care for himself.

Shango’s family reached out to BIANJ CARES seeking support and assistance for their beloved son. Among their many concerns, they felt that the facility was not familiar with how to care for young people with brain injury, and they did not have the necessary equipment to get him out of bed. BIANJ met with the family and organized an in-service to train the staff which resulted in more appropriate, understanding care.

Through the efforts of BIANJ CARES, Shango was finally able to leave his hospital room and go outside—and that day happened to be his 23rd birthday, where family and friends visited to celebrate. Though he had exhausted his insurance benefits for physical, occupational and speech therapies, BIANJ CARES was able to identify private funding for him to continue these services.

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We first met Lorenzo when he was struggling with uncontrolled seizures, aggression and drug use. He wasn’t involved in any meaningful activities and wasn’t on good terms with the family members he was living with. He was refusing to take his seizure medication or see doctors. After gathering resources from BIANJ and framing his challenges in the context of brain injury, Lorenzo and his family members began a journey toward a new beginning for his life. He started regularly attending a day program, reconnected with doctors to help regulate his seizures, and became an invested brother and son to his family. He began using the TBI Fund to meet regularly with a life coach who helps him practice life skills and serves as a weekly mentor. Thanks to Lorenzo’s family and support from BIANJ, he now has a better home life, improved family relationships, goals and the willingness to work towards them. Through connection to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Lorenzo works part time with the goal to transition to full time work!

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