Bouncing Forward

Bouncing Forward

Dr. Emilie Godwin at Virginia Commonwealth University recently chatted with me about her research study on resilience. I was not really sure what that word meant. I hear the word used all the time, and think of it as a positive personality trait. If I were to describe a resilient person, I would think of someone with an inborn ability to cope with hardship better than most of us.

Dr. Godwin gave me great news! “Resilience is not a personality trait,” she said. “We can all develop both individual and family resilience throughout our lives. Some people think of resilience as the ability to bounce back, but I like to think it’s the ability to bounce forward after brain injury.”

Ah-ha! When I heard the phrase bounce forward I knew exactly what she meant. After brain injury, many survivors and caregivers try for months to return to exactly where they were pre-injury. After many months of trying and hitting roadblocks, people eventually learn that they need to start over and start a new kind of life — not necessarily a worse life than before — just a different life with different daily schedules, expectations, and rewards. Doing so without looking back is hard, and there’s a normal grieving process, but once you decide to move forward, using all the talents, skills, and abilities you have to work with, it’s liberating.

Before Hugh’s injury, I was in the human resources field. I owned and operated my own small business called Resumes Worth Reading. Of course, for years after his injury, I still did that work, but when I began to really think about it, I had changed. Caregiving, journaling, and writing to find meaning consumed me. I was passionate about caregiving, so I tried writing a book, something I had always wanted to do before but never had the nerve. As you can see, my life opened up from there on. I now feel as if I am doing exactly what I was always meant to do. My work is my passion. This is a rare thing to find in this world and it’s something good that came out of a difficult, painful life experience.

The VCU TBI Model System Program in Richmond, Virginia is currently recruiting people with traumatic brain injuries for a new research study on Adjustment and Resilience after TBI. Caregivers who encourage their loved ones to participate in this study may reap many benefits at home. In seven rehabilitation and education sessions, volunteer participants will learn:

  • to understand the changes that have resulted from their TBI.
  • how to improve recovery.
  • goal-setting and problem-solving skills.
  • new ways to manage stress and intense emotions.
  • how to communicate effectively.
  • rebuild relationships.
  • and maintain a positive outlook.

This program will arm individuals with everything they need to bounce forward.

As caregivers help their loved ones rebuild new lives, they form a foundation to shape their own new life, and maybe they will discover, as I did, that there’s more than one way to pave a rewarding future after TBI.


Interested in the Adjustment and Resilience Brain Injury Study?

  • The study is IRB-approved.
  • There is no cost to participate
  • Volunteers will be compensated for their time.

For more information, click here.

Comments (7)

Sometimes a life can "open up" after all other roads have been closed down. A wonderful blog post, Rosemary.
Bouncing forward it a great description. I have found that traumatic experiences shake us out of complacency. The trauma itself is not good but the re-focusing of priorities and the realizations that come from a bad experience can help people bounce forward in a way that makes life more meaningful and worthwhile. Change is inevitable no matter what the future holds.
I enjoy your perspective on moving forward because as a tbi survivor I saw I had to adapt to the new me. It is interesting how you were able to improve your life by being with someone you love who has a brain injury.
Love that you are talking about resilience this way. Many years ago after a near fatal sailing accident, I discovered that resilience was more about moving forward after life's challenges, adversity and crisis. As a former Correctional Officer I saw the struggles for inmates to move forward, and I saw the same challenge years later when I was a mediator facilitating complex conflict situations. Many people struggled to bounce back...let alone bounce forward. This inspired me to think about resilience differently... Several years ago I wrote a book called Bounce Forward- building resilient and inspired teams. Thanks for having these important conversations and sharing the messages about resilience. Charmaine Hammond www.charmainehammond.com www.hammondgroup.biz
My TBI is 9 years old. (It is classified medium trauma. Lesions frontal, pre-frontal.) I have given all of my 30s to the healing. I read and heard from others that 10 years is often a benchmark for wellness? I hope so. Losing the person that I was, uncertain about my future. I don't know how to identify resilience in my thoughts and actions.
Charmaine, Rosemary here. What a great story and wonderful way to have moved forward through resilience. I checked out your website and will tweet about it. Great stuff. Thank you for commenting and may you continue to bounce forward!
I love the idea of "bouncing forward" instead of bouncing back. You are a shining example of that Rosemary, because not only did you move forward and create a new life after Hugh's TBI, but you've turned your experiences into something positive that has not only helped your catharsis but it's also helped other people understand what they're going through. Your ability to counsel, assist, and educate people about TBI is the perfect example of bouncing forward. Not to mention Hugh, who became a CFO after his TBI. Y'all are a paradigm not just of resiliency but of hope and love for everyone.