Thursday, December 10, 2015

Angie and Dan Boyle Have a Great Year

I met Angie and Dan Boyle last July as new participants at our adaptive kayaking program at the D.A.R. State Forest. They quickly became dedicated participants, coming to several different programs weekly around the state all summer and making the most of every opportunity available. Angie's story is a true inspiration for getting out there and enjoying all the great benefits of time well spent in the outdoors! Thank you Angie and Dan Boyle for sharing your story in the following Guest Post! We look forward to seeing you this winter!

As the 20th anniversary year of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Universal Access Program ends, we had to report the very significant impact its activities have had and continue to add to our lives.
Here’s a little background:

Angie and Dan on Spectacle Island.
On August 25, 2013, while swimming at Biddeford Pool, Maine, I (Angela) was swept by a rogue wave into a rock.  The result was a soft tissue brain injury.  That made it impossible for me to continue in my profession as a family nurse practitioner, a career I pursued since I was an early teen.  That was followed by multi-organ failure in late February 2014 for which I was hospitalized at Baystate Medical Center for eight days.  About eight weeks later, when the Baystate VNA was discharging me so I could attend rehabilitation classes at the Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital, I fell and fractured my left leg in three places.  Honestly, I felt like I was living Murphy’s Law:  Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. 
Besides the physical health problems, the mental anguish, anxiety and depression were taking their toll on my husband Danny and me.  Whenever Danny tried to get me out of bed and out of our apartment if only to take a drive in our car, I wasn’t interested.  The fact that I could no longer care for patients was causing major depression.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hiking After Traumatic Brain Injury

"People with TBI are often physically inactive, leading to reduced fitness levels and secondary health conditions. Regular physical activity can enhance balance and coordination, decrease reliance on assistive devices, and improve ability to perform activities of daily life and, therefore, foster independence. Studies also suggest that exercisers with TBI were less depressed and reported a better quality of life than those who did not exercise. The key is to find which exercises the person with a TBI enjoys and develop an individualized exercise prescription that accommodates each person's needs and abilities."  
- National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability.
This fall, I happily designed and facilitated a pilot hiking program for people with traumatic brain injuries in western Massachusetts. Before we'd gotten our small group out on the trail, one of our participant's personal caregiver said to me, "I get more physical therapy with Kevin on the trail than in the clinic. It is so much more meaningful for him to be in nature. I'm limited to where we can hike though, because we can't go beyond a safe distance for emergency services in case anything happens. So mostly we hike on one trail in a local state park."