Improv Night at Comedy Sportz – A mother’s tale

What does improv theatre have to do with speech/language and cognitive treatment?

I asked myself that question when my daughter and I got the email inviting us to participate in a BIC-NW sponsored improv workshop and performance at Comedy Sportz in Portland. The activities sounded intriguing to both of us, so we decided to find out the connection between improvisational theatre activities and speech/language and cognitive treatment.

The workshop was skillfully led by Ruth Jenkins, a speech/language pathologist and co-owner of Comedy Sportz in Portland. The workshop activities were designed to assist all participants in developing social communication skills, listening/reasoning/memory, and speech/word finding. As a parent, I was a little hesitant in the beginning and wondered what the workshop activities would involve. It didn’t take long though to see that all of us were engaged in activities that could help us develop those skills. As someone who is 60+ years old, I was particularly interested in the listening/reasoning/memory as well as the speech/word finding activities. We had fun while being focused, for example, on comprehension and cognition activities involving listening, direction following, selective attention, alternating attention, and short-term memory.

After the workshop, we enjoyed pizza and then attended the Comedy Sportz improv theatre performance. While enjoying  improv theatre for the first time, I then made the connection between our workshop activities and the skills the performers had honed very skillfully. Thanks, BIC-NW for sponsoring such an enjoyable learning activity and introducing us to improv theatre. Please sign me up for the next activity!

Contributed by:
Chris Ward (Parent of Laura Southers, TBI Survivor)


TBI Hope & Inspiration Magazine


Welcome to the July Issue of TBI Hope and Inspiration Magazine! Download the July 2015 Issue Here!

Stories of hope and inspiration define this content-packed issue. This months story,Ten Things Brain Injured Patients Want their Doctor to Know, should be mandatory reading for most anyone in the professional community.

Interested in contributing your story? Take a moment to review our Submission Guidelines.

If you are a new subscriber and like what you see, you can read previous issues on our Archives Bookshelf.

Warm regards,

 ~David & Sarah Grant

TBI Hope and Inspiration Magazine



If you’ve come to appreciate all that TBI Hope and Inspiration Magazine has to offer, please consider forwarding this email to a friend or colleague.
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New website with youth brain injury statistics

There’s a beautiful website you can go visit that gives a wonderful breakdown of how often young people get brain injuries and how those injuries tend to happen.

We encourage folks to check out this website: to see the images and information!

As you look at the different images and information, run your mouse along the screen. When you stop your cursor on the name of the different sports, even more valuable information pops up. It’s a great way to get informed.

This site is brought to you courtesy of Gordon, Elias, & Seely LLP, a law firm in Houston, Texas.

Brain injury information website research study opportunity

Ginnifer Mastarone is conducting a study about accessing online information about brain injury. Here is a description of the study and who can participate:

The goal of the study is to determine if a brain injury web site is helpful to brain injury survivors. Ginnifer also wants to see it if it is helpful to other people who need information about brain injury. The study will measure how useful the web site information is, how understandable it is, and how usable it is.

What participants will do as part of the study:

  • Complete an interview with Ginnifer at either the Hillsboro Public Library or the Central Library in downtown Portland. The interview will last 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Complete a cognitive (thinking) test
  • Answer a short survey
  • Look around the web site for information
  • Give Ginnifer thoughts and opinions about the web site

What participants will receive for participating in the study:

  • $20 for your time and as a thank you for participating
  • An opportunity to help make website information about brain injury better

Please click here to read more project details and how to get involved.
Anyone who may be interested in participating should contact Ginnifer Mastarone at or call (971) 258-2116.  Feel free to leave a message, it is a confidential voicemail.

Exciting new research opportunity in Portland

Check out this flyer for a very cool looking opportunity in Portland. Hadley Pearce, who is studying at the National College of Natural Medicine wants to hear from people who have had a brain injury.

Flyer for nutrition research


Here’s the text that’s on the flyer:

What: We are looking for volunteers to participate in a research study of the role of nutrition in recovery from brain injury. Participants will be asked to attend one focus group meeting of 60-90 minutes to discuss how or if nutrition was considered in their treatment after brain injury.

Who: To participate in this study you must:

  • Have experienced a brain injury in the last 5 years
  • Be between 18-55 years old
  • Not have another serious mental health diagnosis or neurological disorder including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia or cognitive decline
  • Be able to communicate clearly and fluently in English.

Why: Your involvement will help us learn more about patients’ experiences and the current role that nutrition plays in the recovery from brain injury.

Participants will receive a $15 gift card to New Seasons for taking part in the study.

Where: The study will be conducted at the Helfgott Research Institute at the National College of Natural Medicine in SW Portland.


If interested please contact study coordinator Hadley Pearce at or by phone at 503-552-1885

Principal Investigator Dr. Leslie Fuller, ND can be reached at 503-522-1833              IRB #: 09182014A


A bonanza of books and more

New media recommendations from Peer Support Coordinator Brian Liebenstein are here! Since Brian is both a peer with brain injury and a journalist, you know he’ll have great recommendations for books, movies, and resources! Here’s what Brian shared with us recently:

In searching brain injury on some internet tools don’t feel alone if it feels like you are digging in an environment as dingy as a salt mine. However, if you never give up you can uncover books and other material that will, hopefully, leave you feeling like you have hit the mother lode in a gold mine.

Here are just two glittering finds I’ve come across: Brain Injury Survivor’s Guide: Welcome to Our World (Paperback); 2007 by Larry Jameson  (Author), Beth Jameson (Author) – This was an informative and hope-filled volume providing perspectives from both the injured (Beth’s) and care or support-giver (Larry’s) views. Hopefully, others will find it easy to navigate as well as helpful and inspirational, as I did. There are enough chapters and stories for many in the brain-injured community to recognize themselves or their support system besides their friends or un-informed acquaintances. The Jamesons do a great job of keeping the writing non-technical except for the few cases when they show knowledge that the brain-injured or their family and friends will be helped by having a medical term for problems or challenges to provide to doctors. This is a great book. It includes a tip for memory help based on BRAIN as a remindful acronym that is worth getting the book for but which is merely a pittance of its value. You’ll feel Blessed to read this.

Another blessing to those with brain injury searching for something that has at least some familiarity to them might be found in a documentary DVD created to relate some of the many varied levels of injury within the brain injury spectrum. Here’s hoping the following entry from the Washington County Collective Library System’s website proves informative and helpful.

Format: DVD, Videorecording, Projected Medium, Visual Materials
Title: Brain injury dialogues [videorecording (DVD)] / written and directed by Lyell Davies & Rick Franklin ; produced by Lyell Davies/Bainneclaba.
Edition: PBS broadcast version
Publisher, Date: [El Cerrito, Calif. : Brain Injury Dialogues], 2011, c2008.
Description: 1 videodisc (52 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.
Contents: Dirk & Nani — Brain injury support group — Harvey — Rehabilitation —  Camping –Work — Mark — Brain injury pride.

Summary: Though he appears normal, Rick Franklin’s brain injury has made his life anything but. Teaming up with veteran documentary maker and friend Lyell Davies, Rick explores the impact that brain injury has had on himself and other survivors and reveals helpful approaches to living with a brain injury.

‘My Two Wheeled Self Propelled Dream Machine’ by Karl Moritz

Check out this new article by BIRRDsong member Karl Mortiz!

And follow this link to see photos of Karl with his new bike:

Hello, I would to share a story about my first complete bike build. My initial idea was to customize a Trek Y-Foil into a Time Trial bike because I really love the frame design and the fact that it was banded by the UCI (Union Cyclist Internationale) for its aerodynamics and Carbon frame design. This frame was only produced for two years. For me, the T/T idea was just because I like the look of a bike that looks like it is moving while standing still and I don’t participate in Time Trials. I was shopping for this bike to buy and customize but then due to a nearly fatal life change when I was involved in a bicycle accident with a car. In short; the car ran over me and dragged underneath for some thirty feet on 6/29/10, spent three months in the hospital and 32 days in my “Unplanned Sabbatical from Life” AKA coma. My bike build plans changed as well. Here is a link to that story in that point in time   That was then and this is now, moving forwards and learning how to build a new complete custom bike because I love cycling and being creative.

I really wanted to have this unique build completed for my fourth year ‘Re-Birth’ as a present to myself, but with all the prepping, details, components searching and planning, time got away from me to finish on that date. And also now that I am on disability so the budget was tight.  In this build I wanted to apply my years in design as an Apparel Tech. Designer and with an artistic approach incorporating high orientated details.  Back in the day prior, my original T/T build idea was just to customize this same type of bike with just paint and graphics and this Single Speed idea would be a total frame up custom build. After doing some research on S/S and the benefits of riding this type of bike (balance, cadence & strength). I decided to change from a T/T Multi speed build to a single speed build because I can now benefit from these attributes.  I also researched if anyone has ever converted a Y-Foil into a Fixie / Track set up. I could only find a few post that said; “Put down your tools and don’t destroy a beautiful design”. So this may upset a few Y-Foil purist, but oh well!

The Frame is a ’98, 58cm pictured as the way that I got it from my immediate family on my actual birthday. Getting started, I removed the front derailleur mounts, bottle cage mounts and all the cable housing mounts (4) from the carbon frame filling in all the rivet holes with a two part epoxy resin. I did this because I wanted the frame to be silky smooth with no visual or aero distractions. So it will now be a single speed frame forever, unless it is taken to have the mounts professionally reinstalled. I went out and asked for advice from a few blog sites on weather I could create a single cog with a double chain-ring. As I wanted more gear options due to my daily commute ride has a 13% grade incline and my former daily cycle trek was around forty miles round trip. I also wanted to use it for local event rides. The answer was ¬no, because of chain tension even with a chain tensioner. It was suggested to use a ‘step back’ two speed rear hub. I never knew this even existed! I wanted to assemble as much as I could on this build myself including building a custom wheel-set. So, I bought a set of 70mm Deep V rims and a new rear hub with 100% ratio on 1st and 138% ration on 2nd gear along with a front Disc 32H hub. I didn’t want to set up this bike to skid for braking, because I am older than most “Hipsters” and wanted this bike to safely stop and go. It was a little difficult to find a front fork with a Disc brake mount for a one inch head tube, but I finally found one on-line made for Cycle Cross. I went with a 160mm Disc Rotor at the front and no rear brake. From my parts bin I used my 170mm carbon crank arm set, carbon seat post and carbon T/T bars.

I went several times plus volunteered at a local Non-Profit bicycle repair shop called Bike Farm ( I went there so that I could learn on how to make bike repairs myself and for this project build. Before starting to lace the rims, I applied a red carbon vinyl laminate film (Wrapped as it’s called in the Auto field) over the rims.  I then had to have the spoke length calculate for each hub. The unique lacing pattern is one that I created myself by using 4 White Double Butted Spoke and 4 Black Bladed spokes X4. The reason I used the 4 white Double Butted Spoke was to make the black bladed spokes visually to be set back. I have never seen this done before. So I’m calling the wheel set lacing pattern “Laced Mag Style”. Lacing the wheel set took a very long time especially for a first timer. And the fact that I was working with two different spokes shapes to coordinate in a pattern series and all doing this on my living room floor before I would true them up at the shop. I actually had to draw out a quick diagram with the hole count of the hub and rim to get it all correct aligned. But it’s all done and I’m very happy with the results, although in hindsight I should have flipped flop the Spoke colors! Bike Farm guided through the process of pressing in new fork headset’s bearings caps, rethreading the Bottom Bracket threads on the frame and using the wheel stand to adjust spoke tension and balancing the wheel-set. I bought a new chain-ring on-line that is an asymmetrical 46 teeth and a 22 teeth rear cog that is a propelled by a black and gold chain. Bike Farm guide me through the process of converting from a threaded fork to am thread-less set up for a disc mount front fork including installing the Bottom Bracket and correct chain line. I was not sure whether the ‘step back’ hub would work well with the asymmetrical chain-ring, but so far no issues and I absolutely love it!

I really wanted the have the frame professionally painted like I had done on some of my other bike projects, so I sent out pictures of the frame to several local bicycle paint shops and auto paint shops to get an estimate on the price. Wow, I was blown away at the proposed cost, I didn’t want to spend more money on the paint than on the cost of the frame itself! Sadly, I could not work in the painting cost into the total build budget that I had set up for this project. So I wet sanded the frame, seat post, crank arms and T/T bars removing all Brand/Model names with 320 & 400 grit sandpaper getting it ready to paint it myself. After having the frame all prepped for paint, my former neighbor Taji, helped me and took the sanded and all prepped frame to a painter contact that would apply paint and graphics. The Graphic of the Flaming Flying Eagle I designed myself using Adobe Illustrator and took the file to a local Vinyl Sign Shop to have it cut out at in a gold color vinyl laminate. I used a clear gloss shaker paint on the crank arms, seat post, and T/T bars because I wanted the carbon weave texture to be exposed on these components. For the longest time I have been a fan of the 50’s hot rod, so that’s where the color scheme comes from red, gold, black, and white plus I wanted the finished project to look Neo-Vintage.

All in all, this bike was 100% hand built by myself with only the frame paint being out sourced.  After having the bike all completed, I went for a spin one day and rode past by a UPS shop and thought to myself, ‘Let’s see how much this puppy weighs’? Hmm…a total weight of 14.3 Lbs. Not so shabby for my first build but I was a little surprised on the weight and thought it would be a wee bit less! It is was it is!

My final comment: Thank you for taking time to read this and knowledge of my new journey. I have now completed my personal full circle of completing this bike build and all the changes along the way; Live and Learn.  I would like to end my story with a song that comes into mind from the band ‘Queen’, “Bicycle bicycle bicycle, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle’ I want to ride it where I like. So get on your bikes and ride”!
My three boys (Cubs) are doing fantastic and now they want a custom bike built, more fun to create more bike projects.
Icebreaker, Thank you for the employment Opportunity!

Cheers> Karl, AKA “Kaj’omo”
Ride Wise=Wear a helmet!

BIRRDsong Celebratory Fundraiser

November 1, 2014

Dear Community Members,

We have some great news! We are going to have a big party to celebrate BIRRDsong’s 10th anniversary, our accomplishments, and new growth as an organization. Recent achievements include:

  • A new board of directors 
  • Increased support for family/friends
  • A new support group for the Spanish-speaking community (Puertas de Esperanza)
  • An educational speakers panel
  • Regularly scheduled social outings coordinated by the social committee
  • Merging with the Brainstormers support group

We are so very proud of our momentum into the future, and are seeking your participation to support our continued growth. Please join us for a celebration on January 22nd from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Curious Comedy Theater at 5225 NE MLK Blvd. Not only will we connect with each other and celebrate, we can all take part in raising funds to support our strategic goals, which include:

  • Hiring an executive director
  • Growing our current and new programs
  • Community outreach and education initiatives

A primary goal of this event is to honor and recognize our past, while looking forward. That is why we are excited to announce that BIRRDsong will be making an important transition to accommodate our growth – a new name and broader identity! The new name, expanded identity, and details of our future plans will be unveiled at the celebration!

We do hope to see you on January 22nd, as our strength stems from our connections to each other. Come celebrate with us!

Sincerely (and with great anticipation),

Laurel Kirby, BIRRDsong Board President
Fern Wilgus, BIRRDsong Board Vice-President

Think Out Loud on OPB about concussions: David Kracke and Dr. Jim Chesnutt join experts

The OPB program called Think Out Loud featured a conversation today on concussion policy and science. The discussion looked at Max’s Law and Jenna’s Law, both co-authored by lawyer David Kracke and Dr. Chesnutt who is Director of the Concussion Program at Oregon Health & Science University. They also discussed the recent NCAA settlement where former athletes sued the association regarding how poorly the players’ concussions were managed over the years. Experts also talked about walking and balance and how some new tests are being researched that might help coaches and trainers protect players from returning to play too soon.

The two experts were joined by Li-Shan Chou, a Biomechanics Professor at the University of Oregon and Doug Aukerman, a Senior Associate Athletic Director at Oregon State University.

Please click on the following link to read a short article containing links to people and more information.

No matter what people thought or said about concussions in the past, new research and science are showing us that a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. While getting one concussion might or might not leave lasting difficulties, the experts talked about ways that getting repeated concussions might lead to troubles later in life.

If you get a concussion, even if it feels mild, Dr. Chesnutt talked on the podcast about resting and staying away from TV, video games, computers, school, work, and rigorous exercise at least for a few days. Don’t rush back to activity, especially if you still don’t feel well! And see a doctor right away to make sure that you’re on the right track to healing.