The Idea Behind The Website
My name is Shireen Jeejeebhoy, and my first brush with brain injury was through a single page on organic brain injury in my neurophysiology textbook at the University of Toronto. Disappointment flooded me that that was all there was. The only main information on brain injury still came from the man with a railroad spike through his head on 13 September 1848. A century and a half after Phineas Gage’s accident, not much has changed, other than standard medical care uses science-y terminology.
My second brush with brain injury probably came through a 1991 car crash. I had a couple of strange transient changes, but no one — and I certainly didn’t — picked up on them as signs of a concussion. By then my interest in brain injury had faded into the past. I’d become a writer, desktop publisher, and computer programming consultant.
My third brush destroyed my life through a multi-car crash in 2000. The crash at first seemed to cause “only” neck and shoulder strains and sprains but was found eight months later to have caused brain injury. The brain injury changed everything. My old disappointment began to re-emerge. My faith in the medical professionals began to fray. I saw that evidence-based rehabilitation was what one doctor termed, “tea and cookies,” not the hope for recovery I’d been sold. This truth reveals itself through the time-limited aspect of rehab while at the same time every health care professional and person with brain injury says it’s for life.
My disappointment turned to rage. My rage has tamped down to a cold fuel that drives me: this ignorance peddled as science must change. Millions of lives destroyed. Lives vanished into suicide; situational depression; despair; lost potential; abandonment; and adult day care in the form of day programs, segregated group events, and mollifying mindfulness workshops.
Brain injury treatment and rehabilitation is fractured care.
My philosophy is that the brain controls everything. Ergo, injury can damage everything. And so one must treat the brain injury as an injury. One must treat the whole person collaboratively over the long term. And one must actually heal the injured brain.
This website attempts to bring together in one spot all that I’ve learnt about concussion, brain injury, diagnostics, treatments, and the best hope for recovery.
Survivor is a term people with brain injury often use to describe themselves. But Survivor has the connotation of someone who’s gone through hell and is now just treading life. The term connotes that it’s OK to put a Survivor into adult day care. Thriver peddles the lie that brain injury leads to feel-good times. It’s OK to let a Thriver’s brain take decades to heal itself then destroy itself from lack of neurostimulatory treatment. I’d like to use the term Resilient. Resilient reflects how much we lose, how little help we receive, yet we remain alive and looking for better. I’m not sure, though, that it’ll catch on. Also, labels tend to be constraining. So I’ll just use people/person with brain injury because an injured person is a human being first and foremost. They’re a person and need to be seen and called a person.
The Problem. The Solution. The Outcome.
The problem: people newly injured go to doctors and clinics expecting to be healed and are not. Standard medical care of brain injury doesn’t restore people, and in particular, it doesn’t rehabilitate complex cognitions like reading comprehension. People suffer the loss of book reading, yet health care professionals downplay that loss. The same with other cognitions. Health care professionals either downplay such losses, like that of memory or attention, or they offer strategies and pacing that, in effect, make little difference and don’t improve the damaged cognitions. Sometimes they offer medications, which don’t help other than paper over a symptom and usually worsen the injury, Medications don’t heal injury.
The solution: a multi-prong approach that begins immediately after injury with a thorough hours-long or multi-day assessment as described in Diagnostics. (If the person required ICU care, then prior to being discharged to rehabilitation and also, perhaps, after emerging from coma and being taken off life support.) Neurostimulation treatments, as outlined in Solutions, given in collaboration between providers, coupled with social support because these treatments are exhausting and people need practical support during it (see Support section).
The outcome: people don’t suffer the secondary traumatic effects of brain injury, don’t become isolated, resume work (even if it’s only part-time since fatigue can remain problematic even when the brain is substantially healed). For society, the outcome is fewer people having to be supported, less despair, less poverty, and fewer homeless and in prison.
The Person Behind The Website
Shireen Jeejeebhoy is an award-winning author. Shireen writes books, blogs about Toronto and brain injury, and creates visual art.
Shireen Jeejeebhoy’s first book, Lifeliner: The Judy Taylor Story (2007), was an award-winning biography about a patient and her pioneering doctor whose ground-breaking work made it possible to live without eating. A Canadian innovation, this artificial life support saves tens of thousands of lives every year around the globe. The pioneering doctor was her father Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy. He taught Shireen much about what makes for excellence in clinical research, and she saw the results in how his patients were devoted to their Dr. Jeejeebhoy.
Shireen’s latest book Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me (2017) garnered seven five-star reviews and an invitation to blog on Psychology Today. Using this memoir as a launch pad, Shireen advocates for replacing standard medical care with effective neurostimulation and neuromodulation treatments to restore people’s health and return them to their full potential. This advocacy lead her to become the brain injury consultant and dramaturge on Brain Storm (play, 2020). Brain Storm ran at Dancemakers Studio in Toronto’s historic Distillery District just before COVID-19 shut down Toronto.
Shireen has written several novels that feature Toronto as a character and star women finding their way without romance giving them the answers. Women talk to each other about something other than a man, and, drawing on her tri-continent background, diversity emerges naturally in her stories. Dogs and cats cavort in supporting roles.
Shireen was born in London, England to Olive and Khursheed Jeejeebhoy, spent her formative years in Bombay, India, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. She obtained a B.Sc. in psychology from the University of Toronto, launched into writing and computer programming, and slammed and somersaulted into the unknown life of brain injury with its paradoxes. After she relearnt to photograph and write several years after the car crash, she wrote a book or more every year. And she explored the city through her camera lens. She has many more manuscripts than published books. She was invited in 2019 to join a working group for a new website. Fanship connects readers with authors and uses blockchain to ensure authors are paid for their work. Shireen blogs and designs websites. On Twitter, she encourages people to think and act on brain injury, gender equality, city life, accessibility, inclusivity, and COVID-19.
Shireen Jeejeebhoy is a member of the Brain Injury Society of Toronto and has participated in their annual Expressive Art Show every year since it began. You can find her latest pieces as posters in her Art Fit To Wear online shop.
“AWESOME post. It’s nice to find posts detailing the physical and biochemical mechanisms underlying brain injury, and not just tips for coping emotionally. I also prefer to be solving problems, not simply coping.”
Shireen fell in love with photography at the age of 11 when she borrowed her mother’s mid-20th century camera for a school trip. She kept borrowing cameras for years until she received her own, a Minolta Maxxum 7000. When her brain injury robbed her of her photography, neurostimulation restored it to her. Treatment made possible using a Nikon Coolpix 2 then a DSLR Nikon D80 and a membership on Flickr. She’s expanded her instinctive photography into creating digital art and, in the year of the pandemic, painting and analogue collages, turning them into posters and prints.
Shireen’s mother Olive Jeejeebhoy volunteered in many capacities and her work at the Scott Mission so treasured that they established The Olive Jeejeebhoy Award for Faithful Service. Olive Jeejeebhoy’s commitment to helping others inspired Shireen to join her first at the Scott Mission, then after her brain injury, in advocacy. Shireen uses her personal website to update her book Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me and continues research on herself to heal her brain. In the COVID-19 pandemic year one, she completed a month-long study on the effects of gamma brainwave audiovisual entrainment with good results and thoughts on further, robust research. She continues to write on her reading recovery and writes a Psychology Today blog on concussion and brain injury. In an effort to fund her writing efforts and brain injury advocacy, she became a creator on Patreon.
Note that Shireen Jeejeebhoy uses Amazon Canada affiliate links on this website to help fund it. Join with her today! Support this website through using the affiliate links to purchase the linked books and items, becoming a patron at Patreon, shopping at Art Fit To Wear, reading her Psychology Today articles, or buying her books. Thank you!
I wish to thank the people who helped me make this website usable and informative. I’m very grateful to Keith Isley for his faithful feedback on every page for its readability, design, style, for asking questions I needed to answer, and for sending me material; to Dr. Michael Zitney for early comments on the medical perspective; to Nathan Cheung for usability design comments and ideas; to Dave Siever for his detailed constructive criticism of the science behind types of neurostimulation; to Kelly Boreson-Charland for graphics ideas; to Willy Kühne for design ideas on all my websites as part of my ShopHERE Google mentoring; to Slava Kim and Nicholas Olteanu for working on the Meditech Clinic page as an early endorsement of this website; and to Tori Stranges who approached me in 2020 and kickstarted me into turning an idea into reality.