Cheryl Dean – Resilient Brain

One fateful day in 2017 changed Cheryl’s life forever. In her own words, here is Cheryl’s story:

It started as a typical day. On January 31, 2017, I was walking across the street when I was hit by a truck. After being flown to the hospital, I was placed in a coma on life support with a traumatic brain injury, skull fractures, fluid and hemorrhaging in the brain, sutures covering the back of my head and an ICP bolt drilled through my skull. I also had a stroke while in the coma. They did not know if I would survive. After 9 days, I slowly started to wake up; that’s when the long road to recovery began with inpatient and outpatient physical, occupational, and speech therapy. I relearned to do everything: walk, stand, balance, project voice, strengthen breathing, write, think, problem solve, remember, increase processing speed, and improve fine and gross motor skills. It was like starting from scratch to learn basic life skills.

Getting back to daily activities slowly but surely has been important. It’s amazing the resiliency of our brains. Neural plasticity finds new routes to take over the ones that are no longer working. I often wonder if being ambidextrous helped my neural plasticity. I certainly was blessed with a miracle of survival.

We all go through times in our lives when we need to rely on others. It is a sign of strength rather than weakness to reach out during these difficult periods. Joining a brain injury support group has made a significant difference in my life. Being among others with similar circumstances is a comfort during the unique challenges resulting from injury.

We are not alone in this journey and can make a difference in the lives of others. Through sharing our stories, TBI can mean, “To Be Inspired.”

Today, Cheryl lives in Harrisonburg with her husband and cat. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Brain Injury Connections of the Shenandoah Valley and is involved in three support groups for brain injury, stroke, and multiple sclerosis.

Cheryl HosptializedCheryl Advocating at the General Assembly