Testimonials Archive - The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey

Allison’s Story

Allison was a typical busy and active young teenager when her life was interrupted by brain injury. At age 12, she suffered the second of two brain bleeds as the result of an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM).  She underwent a year of intensive physical and cognitive therapy, working hard to regain skills she had once taken for granted.  She went back to middle school with an aide supplied by the school district to help her navigate the day.  Now 21, Allison’s family is proud of her positive attitude, her adaptability and her willingness to try new things.  “She never gave up” says her father.  When it became clear that she could not go back to playing on the soccer team she had enjoyed so much prior to her injury, Allison decided to try sled hockey instead – she rejoiced in the physical activity and loved being part of a team that competed in tournaments across the country. She took on karate, swimming and adaptive skiing – she embraced participating in new social and recreational opportunities.  Allison takes great pride in her graduation from high school.  Her love for animals has led to fulfilling volunteer work at a local animal shelter, where Allison socializes the animals and helps to care for them.   She is currently looking for educational opportunities that provide training for work with animals, such as a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant.

Allison’s family connected with the BIANJ CARES program to learn more about brain injury and the resources available to people with brain injury.  “BIANJ helped provide guidance around disability and brain injury issues” noted Allison’s father.  Allison’s CARES specialist shares that working with her was an opportunity to not just share relevant resources such as support groups and BIANJ sponsored social events, but also to witness her positive and assertive approach to finding purpose after brain injury.

This photo was a special dance with Allison and her dad at Allison’s Quinceanera celebration in 2018. Her father says of the photo: “We were so grateful for this moment.”

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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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My case manager helped me navigate treatment and system barriers. I have been able to receive Medicaid Social Security Disability which has helped me focus on treatment.

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The stress on families is enormous when they are trying to help a disabled son or daughter.  It means so much when you can have CARES case management in your life, who is always ‘there’ for you, who is caring, smart, efficient, and pragmatic.

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Just having the meeting with my case manager lifted a heavy burden from my husband and me–we weren’t alone.

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CARES has provided support at medical appointments which has helped me learn how to self-advocate for appropriate brain injury treatment.

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Chloe Lévesque

Everyday food for Mumbai children

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Ada Ajimobi

Lori now study with her friends

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