Matt Brown: Strategies, Patterns, and Routine Are Key

Former Marine Matt Brown, who suffers from combat-related TBI and PTSD — talks about strategies and games that have helped him with his memory and daily routine.

I started occupational therapy a little bit and-- I'm trying to think of the word-- speech pathology. I started that kind of therapy, and that was actually really helpful, just different little mind games. Surprisingly, some of the most mundane games that you would play on your cell phone or on different websites and stuff like that, you'd be surprised how much it actually helps you. Word searches or number searches for me worked very well, to a point that I could function slightly better. I was starting to remember some things, but other things I would just totally space out on. My wife would tell me to take out the trash. Five hours later I'm still sitting there. She's like, "You didn't take out the trash." I'm like, "Oh. Sorry about that." Then I would forget about it again because I was doing something. Multitasking became very, very difficult. It was a learned skill after. It took me a long time to slowly learn how to, okay, concentrate on 1 thing slowly and then add another thing to it and then work on those 2 things at the same time. I went to the VA for the PTSD treatment and some of the speech pathology treatment. The other stuff was on my own. Once I was speaking with the therapist and stuff like that, she gave me little hints and tricks that I could do: always putting the keys in the same spot, always putting my wallet in the same spot, and then just different memory games like try not necessarily to make songs but keep patterns in your head. "Okay, my keys are on the counter, my wallet is always in my pants, "my pants are always in the bathroom, my shoes-- "okay, where are my shoes? Oh. I always put them next to my pants in the bathroom." Just remembering, keep a routine, same thing. Try to do the same thing day in, day out. Now, with my children it's difficult because they don't let me do the same things every day, but try to keep your own routine and your own method and having a support group like a loved one: wife, mother, father. They'll help you keep the same routine. That's helped me drastically.
Posted on BrainLine January 25, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Lara Collins, BrainLine.

Special thanks to LtCol. Tim Maxwell, USMC (ret), and his wife, Shannon.