New concussion law will protect young athletes: Guest opinion by David Kracke

Gone are the days when our kids’ coaches could feign ignorance about concussions. If the flood of information over the past four years about concussions and their seriousness wasn’t enough to educate our youth sport coaches (since the passage of Oregon’s 2009 landmark concussion law known as Max’s Law), then the recent implementation of Jenna’s law is. As of Jan. 1, anyone who coaches our kids, in whatever league, must know about concussions and must know what to do if one of his or her players is suspected of having a concussion.

Jenna’s Law, named after Sisters, Ore., athlete Jenna Sneva, requires all youth sport coaches to get educated about concussions and to implement protocols for an athlete suspected of being concussed. Max’s Law requires all high school coaches to follow a similar concussion protocol. Those protocols include immediately taking the player out of the game, getting the player checked out by an appropriate medical professional and not allowing that concussed player to return to play until he or she has been cleared by a medical professional to do so.
The motivation behind Jenna’s Law and Max’s Law is simple: If one of our young athletes is concussed and if that athlete suffers a second concussion before the first concussion is allowed to heal, then that athlete is at significant risk of second impact syndrome (SIS). Max Conradt, the namesake of Max’s Law, developed SIS after he suffered a second concussion within a week’s time of a previous concussion, and the passage and implementation of Jenna’s Law, where all of our youth coaches are held to the same standard as high school coaches, is the logical extension of the enlightened policy behind Max’s Law.

Jenna’s Law is a sweeping education bill that will benefit Oregon’s young athletes for all time. The law requires all coaches and referees to take one of the available (and free) on-line concussion education courses and then to use that education to protect our kids. The law further provides that the parents of players and the players themselves (who are 12 years old and older) take one of the on-line concussion courses.

What the law will do is create an entire community of players, coaches, referees and parents who are educated about and aware of the terrible risks posed by concussions. It promises to be one of the most important youth protection and education bills ever passed by the Oregon Legislature and it further promises to be a literal lifesaving law.

A coach is given a tremendous responsibility when he or she is entrusted with our kids and we, as parents, are tasked with doing all we can to keep our kids safe, so when the Legislature passes and the governor signs a bill of this magnitude, we all have a responsibility to abide by it. If just one child is spared the ravages of SIS then this new law will be worth everything. If even more young athletes are spared, it will be closer to a miracle.

David Kracke is an attorney in Portland.

Find this article on the Oregonian online at

Joan Miller speaks on sober-driving on KGW

Once again, BIRRDsong co-founder Joan Miller has done a tremendous community service: she is on the local news again! Joan gives presentations year round about the importance of safe, sober, unimpaired driving. And she makes a special point to be even more vocal around New Year’s Eve. This is a really dangerous night to be on the roads because too many people think only of their fun in the moment. They don’t think enough about everyone’s safety and everyone’s chance at making it to ring in the new year peacefully.

Click on the link below to read a short article online about Joan’s experiences being hit by a drunk driver and about the work she and others in our community do to raise awareness of the importance of safe driving.

Gold Mind Meditation Series with Had Walmer

WHAT: Six classes in basic mindfulness meditation for TBI or other Trauma in 2014
(Gold Mind Meditation Project)

1/22, 1/29, 2/5, 2/12, 2/19, and 2/26

WHEN: Weds. Evenings, 6:30 – 8:00

WHERE: Good Sam. Hospital, Wilcox Building, Rm.102

NW 22nd Avenue & Marshall, Portland, OR

There is no charge, donations for expenses accepted. Students, please register, email me,, just put REGISTER in subject line

Thank you,

Had Walmer


Free Webinar from Brain Injury Association of America: Realistic Hope After Brain Injury

Realistic Hope After Brain Injury
December 17, 2013 2:00 p.m. ET

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is pleased to announce the creation of the Butch Alterman Memorial Webinar Series, a new series of free webinars that will be focused on and primarily for those who are living with brain injury. We are thankful to the Butch Alterman Memorial Fund which has supported us in the creation of this series.

What is the Butch Alterman Memorial Fund?

The Butch Alterman Memorial Fund was established by Maureen Alterman in memory of her husband and supports BIAA’s education efforts. Maureen established the fund to keep alive those things that meant the most to her husband, whose life centered around family, faith, serving his community via various charitable endeavors, educating his students, and serving his country through his military service in the United States Navy. Butch was an elementary educator for 35 years; his classroom motto was “let me teach so I can quench your thirst for learning.” He believed that education was the key to shaping his young students. The fund is the perfect way to educate those who have a thirst for knowledge about brain injury.

The inaugural webinar in the series will be offered on December 17, 2013. Our presenter will be Mark Palmer, author of Realistic Hope, developer of the Realistic Hope website, and 50-year survivor of a traumatic brain injury. He will discuss Realistic Hope after Brain Injury. Please join us!

Click on this sentence to go to registration for the webinar!

Please note this webinar does not offer any CBIS CEUs.

Nuevo grupos de apoyo en español: New support groups in Spanish

Flyer with information on Spanish support groups


¿Lesión Cerebral?
Grupo de Apoyo en Español!

Cada tercer Martes
5:30pm a 7:30pm

A Hospital Providence
4805 NE Glisan St
Portland, OR
En la sala HCC 6

Somos una Comunidad Unida. Todos son Bienvenidos. Somos una parte
activa de la comunidad afectada por lesiones cerebrales en el área de
Portland. Nuestras reuniones y actividades proveen un ambiente de
aceptación, apoyo, motivación y desarrollo social.
Invitamos a que personas con lesiones cerebrales, familiares, amigos, y
personas de apoyo cerebrales atienda a nuestro grupo y eventos.

Por favor registrese si planeas asistir:


Contribute to the blog!

This blog is a great place to share news and ideas. Anytime you want, you can write a story or essay, or contribute some artwork. We will very happily include it in the blog. The blog is open to people with and without brain injury.

If you know about some community events, online events, or local activities that you want to share, please also send those along. Send ideas, stories, and suggestions to

“Brain Injury Journey” magazine and brain injury blog

A lot of speech therapists and occupational therapists know about Lash & Associates Publishing / Training company. They have a huge amount of books, DVDs, CDs and resources online and that clinicians can buy. They can use these things for rehabilitation to support our recoveries.

But guess what! Lash & Associates has a couple secret gems for all of us!


1. Brain Injury blog:

Visit that site to read lots and lots of interesting posts written by people with experience with brain injury. Some of the bloggers have a brain injury, some are family or friends, and some work with folks with brain injury. This blog is really exciting. It’s not all about showing off research and medical information. These are stories from people who want to share their opinions, ideas, experiences, and wisdom with the community.

2. “Brain Injury Journey” online magazine:

If you fill out the information at the link just above, you can get the magazine online for free! They will send you an email each time a new one comes out. Click the link in the email and enjoy the magazine. It’s a wonderful publication.

If you prefer to read it on paper, you can sign up for a $48 subscription here:

Here is how Lash & Associates describes this magazine: “Filled with empowering personal stories, informative interviews, clinical findings, and research updates, Brain Injury Journey Magazine helps you navigate the challenges of life after an acquired brain injury. Whether you are a survivor, veteran, family member, or caregiver, you will find support and information to guide you on your journey. Providers, clinicians, educators, and advocates will find articles that guide and inform them as critical partners in the brain injury community. We are all in this together.”

And I agree. I’ve just started reading the magazine. I highly recommend it!—Cheryl

Doctor applies his own traumatic brain injury experience to mission

Here is a beautiful article from, the official Homepage of the United States Army.

Army Col. (Dr.) Kenneth Lee talks about how going through his own traumatic brain injury after a suicide bomber attack near Baghdad has changed the way he works with his active and non-active duty patients. He also talks about realizing the effect that his trauma, anger, and denial of his injuries had on his family and how he came to terms with that.

He has more understanding of the signs, symptoms, and struggles of TBI and PTSD for the soldier and for the soldier’s family and community.

Please click this sentence to read the entire article.

Gold Mind Meditation Project with Had Walmer

Head-injury is an invisible disability, not easily seen from the outside like a wheelchair or crutches. It’s a complex injury to a complex organ, known profoundly from inside. Each survivor experiences a different array of symptoms.  Gold Mind Meditation Project empowers you to transform your relationship with this condition to actually thrive through the power of mindfulness.

I speak from personal experience.  Returning to college years ago, I was involved in a serious car accident.  Jaws-of-Life were required to free me from the vehicle, I got a skull fracture and was in a coma for seven days. My brain swelled in my skull and when I came to I had amnesia, diplopia (double-vision), and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). In an instant I was not who I used to be.

Since that time I have lived with the challenges of TBI. I struggled to complete my university degree and to get on with my new life (‘2.0’). I graduated from the university and then within a few years experienced frustrating failure in the loss of several jobs due to this. Often my perceptions were cloudy – I was very unaware of what I could do or be. My friend who is an Occupational Therapist pointed out that this problem was the direct result of my TBI, what that is, and that I can have some say in my own rehabilitation.

TBI has often been misdiagnosed and thus poorly treated. In top-of-the-line and expensive rehabilitation programs I was taught ‘compensatory coping-strategies’ for the ‘cognitive-deficits’ of this brain injury. These strategies were well-intended rehab but fell short of knowing and actually addressing my best possible well-being and peace with the totality of this ‘new me’. They didn’t work for me; I had to learn this necessary inner transformation for myself.  In my own explorations I have learned to sift gold (possibilities) from the gravel of my life experiences in order to find meaning, value and purpose for myself. Meditation was the key.

I’ve learned mindfulness meditation practice also called Insight Meditation. Regular meditation practice helps me be concentrated and focused, capable of sustained attention to chosen activities. With mindfulness practice we take a stand for our inner wellness, at peace beyond the damages of our trauma and change. This is a path of being at peace with and authentic in your life, now. You will be ready to pick up the next thing in your life, getting back benefits in proportion to the time that you put into practice.

Mindfulness practice can lead to brain healing (‘neuroplasticity’- the brain can heal itself).  I am now choosing to live my life intentionally and more skillfully – making peace with this malady and finding the healing I need in the present moment. You can do this too. Here is the start of a new path for you! Being calm and clear.  With Focused thinking, activating your mind’s inherent strengths. Loving the life you live.  Really!

I lead a training of five sessions for you to learn flourishing mindfulness and continue at your own pace with suggested local resources.

2013 classes have not been scheduled yet. Please email me to find out when classes will be held. You can also check on the Calendar page of this website!