“Brain injury is … a lifelong condition.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
In this case, the quote is from Cynthia Boyer, senior clinical director for Bancroft NeuroHealth in Haddonfield, N.J. Her remark comes from a Page One story that The Star-Ledger of Newark published earlier this month on a pilot rehab program for veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The article is about Bancroft NeuroHealth, which is one of 21 nationally accredited agencies that was awarded a federal contract this summer from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to participate in a pilot program.
The $23.5 million Assisted Living-Traumatic Brain Injury pilot program, according to The Ledger, is trying to assist veterans adjust to life after their TBI, and to become self-sufficient again, to whatever extent they can.
Vietnam veteran Ronald Sharpe is profiled in the story. He survived combat as a Marine, only to return to the United States and years later get into a horrific car accident. Sharpe was in a coma for a few months, and when he came out of it he was blind “and the parts of his brain that enabled him to speak clearly, walk effortlessly and retain short-term memory were irreparably damaged,” according to The Ledger.
But under Bancroft’s rehab program, Sharpe got a job, was able to walk again and learned Braille. He lives in a group home now, and gets his rehab from Bancroft’s Cherry Hill facility.
Pilot programs like the one Bancroft is participating in are crucial in these times, when TBI has been described “the signature wound” of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sharpe’s rehab includes classes on managing his finances; cooking classes; and speech therapy. The Ledger also reported that Sharpe lives in a home with three other people who have TBI, and he is doing well.
It would be great if this pilot program is deemed a success, and can made permanent to help vets with TBI. So far, so good.
In a sad footnote regarding Sharpe, The Ledger reported that he recently was diagnosed with prostate cancer. But he is still in good spirits. I wish him well.