The mission of the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa is to to create a better future through brain injury prevention, advocacy, education, research, and support.

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July 2014
News You Can Use from the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa

Head Injury Risk Rose In Cities After Bike-Sharing Rolled Out

See how an efficient way to ride is trending in big cities but can really be risky behavior for these bicyclist programs.  Controversy sparks in this article featured by National Public Radio. 

Photo borrowed from NPR.org

Recent Legislative Successes

  • Early this month, governor Terry Brandstad signed the Health and Human Services Budget into law, which approved the appropriation of $6 million dollars to be allocated toward reducing waiver waiting lists for Iowans with disabilities.  This mostly applies to individuals receiving Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS).  Although many professionals, organizations and individuals are unsure at this time of exactly how this will play out, it is seen as a triumphant step in the right direction for many Iowans with disabilities.  Last year in 2013, Brandstad vetoed the same proposed bill, which if passed, would have alleviated even more people with its 8.7 million dollar proposal.

  • DHS has now issued an online Brain Injury training.  The training features causes, types  and explains generalities and specifics on the topic of brain injury.  The training is free.  If you are interested, click on the brain below to get started.

  • Chapter 83 of the Iowa Administrative Code “Medicaid Waiver Services,” has been amended.  One of the amendments made to Medicaid Waiver Services includes removing the age cap on the Brain Injury Waiver eligibility policy.  Prior to this change, the Brain Injury Waiver policy denied those injured over 65 years old, however, exceptions were often made for those who turned 65 while receiving waiver benefits, continuing to provide individuals with stipends, services and resources provided by the waiver.  This change now allows any qualifiers of the waiver, regardless of age, to receive its benefits.    


In This Issue
  • Bike Sharing on the Rise
  • Recent Legislative Successes
  • Spotlight Alert! Client Corner
  • Upcoming Events and Trainings
  • Support Group Locations & Info
  • TBI vs. ABI
  • Ragbrai Helmets of 2014

Brainstorming -
            Now Archived!
Looking for information from a past edition of Brainstorming?  You can now access past issues online.

Click Here to visit the Brainstorming archive.


Traumatic Brain Injury
Acquired Brain Injury
What's the difference?

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
A traumatic brain injury is defined as an alteration in brain
function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an
external force.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain, which is
not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth
trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that
has occurred after birth.
(Info from Brain Injury Association of America)

For more facts and information on Brain Injury 

Looking for Support?

To find support groups in your area, click the link below for locations and contact information.

Raging Ragbrai &  Humorous Helmets

Cyclists swarm the state this July as dedicated riders conquer 468 miles in the Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa known as Ragbrai.

For a look at jazzy helmets worn by some of this years participants, click here and enjoy! 

Client Corner

Bob Pelletier

Robert (Bob) Pelletier has been teaching motorcycle safety classes for nearly 11 years in the Quad Cities area.  A current Cedar Rapids resident, Bob has been a rider for 36 years and identifies as a complete moto-enthusiast.  Balancing his passion for riding and safety, Bob does not think twice about gearing up before going on a cruise; and on August 2, 2013 he is grateful he did.

            Merely one year ago, Bob geared-up with his heavy-duty Kevlar jacket, protective gloves, and life-saving helmet.  Dressed head-to-toe in protective wear and clothing, Bob was able to survive an almost fatal motorcycle accident.  Just about four miles away from his new home, Bob was cruising down a four-lane highway when a deer jumped out into the road.  Since the accident, Bob suffers from amnesia, however, he believes he swerved to the left as the deer jumped in front of him on the right.  In almost no time at all, Bob and his bike were somersaulting along the pavement, eventually skidding to a halt across the hot cement.

            Besides breaking both hands and injuring the lower part of one of his arms, Bob did not suffer a single scratch on this body.  Thanks to his protective gear, he was able to avoid road-rash and more severe external injuries.  But internally, Bob suffered a major head trauma leaving the left half of his brain to accumulate puddles of blood, affecting the area responsible for his memory. 

            It would take weeks of being in and out of recovery facilities, speaking with different neurosurgeons and living the daily reality of having a short memory span of about 5 minutes before his life would finally start turning around.  It would not be until 2 months after his injury that Bob had his first memory.  Bob was a resident in the Harmony House, a center in Waterloo, IA, which provides multiple services and supports for things such as therapy, end of life hospice care, and brain injury.  It was here at the House that Bob suffered a heart attack.  After telling his nurse he wasn’t feeling well, she looked him over, confirmed he was having a heart attack and he was transferred to the nearby Allen Memorial Hospital.  There, Bob had his first memory. When Bob came out of bypass surgery, he was shocked to see Velcro-hand casts and wondered where he was.  His first memory would be having his heart attack.  It took him some time and with doctor’s explanations, Bob would begin piecing back together the puzzle to the last two months of his life.

            Although Bob was still suffering hallucinations time-to-time and did not have full memory function, he was making his way and exceeding more and more as time went on.  Returning back to mental and physical therapy, Bob would be on the road to recovery once again.  The staff at Harmony House was inspired by Bob’s recovery as many thought he may be institutionalized forever.  Bob’s stay in Harmony House allowed him to accomplish many milestones in his recovery and eventually he was mostly recovered, being the first person in the history of the Harmony House to be released on his own recognizance. 

            Returning home was an adjustment for Bob but he was still making strides towards recovery.  According to Bob, he is fully recovered, however standardized neuro tests through social security suggest his memory is not quite 100%.  Bob praises Harmony House for the high quality services and care they provided him during his recovery.  Now, recovering in the comfort of his own home, Bob is reminded that his injury is hard for others to understand as his disability is hidden.  Bob explains, “Brain damage, you don’t see that.  People wonder, why are you acting so weird?”  

Having a hidden disability such as a traumatic brain injury is much harder for people to understand. Because it is not something you can physically see, people tend to disbelieve that an internal handicap is the cause of the outward behavior of a brain injury survivor.  “Had I broken both legs and was on crutches you would understand my handicap.  Because you could see my calves and you could see my crutches.”  Bob explains this as he reflects upon the hardships of being a survivor of a hidden disability.  Bob realizes people have a hard time relating to survivors of brain injury after their mental abilities have been altered.  Bob states, “Unless you’ve been there, you can’t relate to it; it’s like living in a fog.” 

Bob offered his opinion on the initial thoughts of someone who suffers brain injury.  He believes the first thing someone goes through after a brain injury is feelings of fright; and it is frightening because of the many instant life changes, alterations, and the unknown of the future.  Considering the amount of changes and life alterations resulting after a brain injury, Bob continues to live a close to normal life, feeling great and sticking by what he loves; motorcycles.

Although he is taking the summer off from teaching motorcycle safety, Bob has every intention to start back up next season.  He is dedicated to his job and loves the teaching environment.  Providing lessons on how to be a safe rider and the importance of wearing proper gear is something Bob takes pride in.  He comments about the insane amount of motorcyclists he witnesses wearing cutoff pants, t-shirts, or even flip flops stating all he can think about is “boy, it’s really going to hurt when you fly off that thing.” 

  Bob is a true success story and a fortunate soul.  Bob gives us hope and reminds us that living and experiencing life with a traumatic brain injury does not have to be the end of a person.  While it may be challenging, it is another one of life’s obstacles. Bob praises the lord for his own success as he is “doing quite well” in his day-to-day activities and overall well-being.   A believer and advocate for safety, Bob is a true inspiration and role model for survivors, professionals and caretakers of brain injury worldwide.

Upcoming Events & Trainings

Brain Injury: The Family’s Journey 

August 1, 9:00am – 3:30pm ~ Brain Injury: The Family's Journey - A conference for individuals, families and caregivers affected by Brain Injury. Mercy Hospital, Sioux City, IA.  


Second Annual Northern Iowa and Northeast Iowa Brain Injury Conference

September 4th -5th . County Social Services and the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa, Hotel Winneshiek, Decorah, IA

Central Iowa Brain Injury Conference for Families and Caregivers 

The Family's Journey

An event for those affected by brain injury.  Event will be held on Friday, September 19th from 9:30am – 3:30pm in Ankeny, IA.  Topics include: transition to adulthood, lessons learned from families and more. Lunch provided.  

Great Gatsby Gala 

October 18, 2014.  The Inaugural Great Gatsby Gala to support the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa.  The Gala will take place in Des Moines, Iowa to raise funds for the future of brain injury advocacy and prevention.  Registration and more information can be found by clicking on the link below:

Other Events of Interest to the Brain Injury Community:

September 6 ~ Brain Injury: The Family’s Journey – A workshop for individuals, families and caregivers.  Decorah, IA.  Click here for more information and to register.

September 12 ~ On With Life Fall Brain Injury Conference, FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, IA

October 1-2 ~ 2014 Iowa Mental Health Conference,Altoona, IA

October 7-11 ~ American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, Toronto Canada

October 27-30 ~ 25th Annual State of the States in Head Injury Meeting, sponsored by the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators, Marriott Courtyard, Philadelphia, PA

October 30-November 2~ National Rehabilitation Association Annual Conference, Des Moines, IA

November 8-9 ~ 35th Annual Neurorehabilitation Conference on Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, and Other Neurologic Disorders, Cambridge, MA

January 11-14, 2015 ~ 2015 Brain Injury Summit, sponsored by Craig Rehabilitation Hospital, Vail, CO

February 18, 2015 ~ Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa Advocacy Day at the Statehouse, Des Moines, IA. STAY TUNED! More details to come!

March 5-6, 2015 ~ 23rd Annual Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa, Best Practices in Brain Injury Service Delivery Conference, Sheraton Hotel, West Des Moines, IA. STAY TUNED! More details to come!

Please check out our website for more information! www.biaia.org 

Thank you to our Corporate Members!
Silver:  Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital,  On with Life, Iowa Association of Community Providers, REM Iowa, NeuroRestorative, Opportunities Unlimted,  Unity Point Health / St. Luke's Hospital -Cedar Rapids,  Lakeview Specialty Hospital and Rehab.
Bronze:  Harmony House, Meadowlark Psychiatric Service, Bright Life Psychiatric Service, Community NeuroRehab of Iowa, Mayo Clinic Foundation 
For more information on becoming an individual or corporate member, please click here.

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