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I got to see Alexis again this year in the Boston University physical therapy labs @BUSargent¬†and I forgot to post about it! The labs took place on February 27 and March 1 this year at Sargent College. It was great to see Alexis. I still can’t skip, bound, or do a single leg stance on my left side. Year after year of these same problems but they never come up except for when I’m doing the High level mobility assessment test at Boston University. ūüôā

I just signed up for a class at Brandeis called Directed Writing: Creative Nonfiction and the purpose will be to use the class to help me wrap up the book project! I met with the instructor the other day and told her I was planning to post samples of writing I complete in her class on this site¬†to tease the book. All of this will help to show a potential publisher that there’s a here¬†here, which will be an incentive to get involved with the project! We’ll see.


In the spring semester for the past few years I’ve spoken in classrooms about my experience in therapies. Last month I spoke at Boston University in a¬†Physical Therapy lab, and last week at Emerson in the¬†Survey of Language Disorders classroom. Students always come to the classes with great questions and I always really enjoy sharing¬†my recovery story. I think it’s important for me to share the patient’s perspective, because these are future therapists!

A hearing for a Cognitive Rehabilitation bill happened yesterday at the State House in Boston and I testified! The bill, if passed by the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives, will require insurance companies in Massachusetts to cover cognitive rehabilitation, like the occupational, physical, and speech therapy I received at Braintree and Portsmouth Regional Hospital. You can read the bills that I testified in support of on the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts’s website, here.

And you can read my testimony, here: Venell Testimony to support Cog Rehab Bill.

Or check out me testifying, here: We were all having a laugh about how long this hearing lasted!

Tessa 6

Then and Now

March 27, 2015 — 1 Comment

I never linked to this video that my friends Jeff and Josh made when they finished it! It’s a short and they’re shooting a full length version now. A little more information about the project can be found on Brandeis’¬†facebook¬†page or at Spinach Pie Productions.


My former Occupational Therapist from when I was hospitalized at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital, Sheri Sharkey, and I presented last week at the Student Occupational Therapy Association at Tufts and it was so much fun! It was great to see Sheri again and I really enjoyed our presentation.

When I was telling Evan about the presentation afterwards, I remembered one girl’s question and specifically wanted to tell him about it. The student was planning¬†to start a clinical placement in¬†a neuro unit in a hospital and asked Sheri and me for advice about working with her future patients. We had shared with the group that Sheri and I had had a great relationship, and because I liked her I worked harder with her in therapy. The harder I worked and listened for feedback from Sheri, the more quickly I could improve.

This student¬†asked us¬†for advice about working with her future patients, and getting her patients¬†to work hard with her in therapy. I thought about why I liked Sheri so much, and so enjoyed therapy with Sheri and worked hard with her. I liked Sheri because it didn’t seem to me that she treated me any differently when I was in the hospital, slowly emerging from a coma. Even though therapy sessions with¬†Sheri were similar to therapy with any other therapist, Sheri never¬†treated me like a patient. None of my therapists in the neuro-wing at Braintree¬†treated me like a patient, and I think that was why their neuro team was so strong. It made a huge difference to be seen as a person first and as a patient second.

I just listened to #Christian Jungersen, author of ‚ÄúYou Disappear”, talk about his book about #family and brain injury here on @blogtalkradio.¬†I’m glad¬†that Christian Jungersen is writing about brain injury and that we’re not scared to talk about these issues, because the more we hear stories, the more we can work to¬†understand the¬†injury and the families¬†that¬†are affected.

Interesting that the author made the point to say in his interview that many of us don’t¬†think about brain injury until we’ve been personally affected. This was¬†also the case for me. After the experience (and¬†a couple years of reorganizing),¬†I have very much accepted this¬†as the world where I can have the most impact.

My injury changed everything for me, starting with¬†my brain, and Christian Jungersen says this is what interested him in the subject matter initially. Imagine your brain is changed! Jungersen does a great job in his book of exploring the impact this change has on his main character’s whole life, and I guess it has had a similar effect on me, in that I know now where I can make an impact and I’m trying to do that with both my job at the Ivy Street School¬†and with the book I’m writing.

I’ve been asked to be a guest blogger for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, and my first post went up last week. Check it out at the Brain Injury Association’s¬†blog,¬†In An Instant Your Life Can Change Forever. I’m planning to focus my posts on my experience of my injury: I learned that although my¬†life in that instance changed, it’s possible to¬†get it back. So it doesn’t have to change forever. But I have to build up to that thesis.

The Medford Transcript ran an article in December about our project and my recovery. I’m working with Braintree Rehab’s PR firm to tell the story about Braintree’s role in my recovery and this is the first installment of that story. There’s a bigger press hit coming later on in January!

We need to listen to what people like Tessa Venell and those with even mild brain injury tell us about their lives. Many of my research participants tell me that brain injury survivor support groups are important sources of community and hope. When these groups incorporate activities that support cognitive and emotional healing, 
they can help to fill the gap created in our medical model approach to brain injury rehabilitation.

Listening to Brain Injury Survivors, by Laura Lorenz