Spring 2009 • Volume 4, Number 1
Published by the Brain Injury Association of Canada
Editor – Barb Butler
Graphic Designer – Monique Caron
Communications Chair – Barb Butler
February 2nd, 2009 Toronto HOO at Chega
restaurant was a great success!
Building on its ongoing commitment to injury prevention, Insurance
Bureau of Canada (IBC), on behalf of Canada’s home, car and
business insurers, has donated $150,000 to the Brain Injury
Association of Canada (BIAC). The donation makes IBC the
presenting sponsor of BIAC’s Hawaiian Oyster Odyssey series of
fundraising events across Canada for the next three years.
“The insurance industry has a long history of supporting injury
prevention – through our own community outreach programs and by
supporting important events like this one,” said Mary Lou O’Reilly,
Vice-President, Public Affairs & Marketing, IBC. “We are proud to
help BIAC continue its commitment to improving the lives of all
people affected by brain injuries,” she added. Nikki Holland, Manager of Government Relations, Insurance Bureau of Canada,
Reza Moridi MPP, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of Training,
Colleges and Universities, David Zimmer MPP, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario
Brain injuries are the number one cause of disability and death Attorney-General, Hon. Kathleen Wynne MPP, Ontario Minister of Education, Monte
Kwinter MPP, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of International Trade
for Canadians under 45. Most brain injuries are preventable. and Investment, Don Forgeron, Ontario Vice-President Insurance Bureau of Canada,
Amrit Mangat MPP, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister responsible for
Seniors, Hon. David Caplan Caplan MPP, Ontario Minister of Health and Long
“We would like to thank IBC for becoming our new presenting Term Care, Kevin Flynn MPP, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of the
sponsor,” said Shirley Johnson, BIAC president and a grandmother Environment, Lou Rinaldi MPP, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of
Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Howard Brown, Fundraising Chair, Brain Injury
from Victoria, BC, who has three family members with brain Association of Canada
injuries. “We are grateful for IBC’s support because it allows us to
communicate to a broader audience the message that brain injury is preventable.” (continued on page 2)
Message From the Executive Director
I start this article on a sad note. On January 29th, 2009, in Victoria, B.C. our President, Shirley Johnson lost her husband, Bob.
On behalf of the Brain Injury Association of Canada family, we extend our sincere condolences to Shirley and her family on
their loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Shirley at this difﬁcult time.
This has certainly been an exciting time for BIAC as we reach out. Thanks to the efforts of Ron Foreman, our website has new
information added on almost a daily basis. Take a few minutes every third day to check out www.biac-aclc.ca. Our goal is
to keep you up to date on conferences, research happennings, timely articles related to Brain Injury prevention, survivors and
advocacy. If there is something that you would like to add please send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
I am very pleased to announce and to say thank you to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) for their commitment to BIAC
and their sponsorship of $150,000 over the next three years at $50,000 per year through to 2011. The announcement was
made at the Toronto HOO on February 2nd. Their leadership and support is appreciated. Thank you to Howard Brown, our
Fundraising Chair for his efforts in bringing IBC into the BIAC Family.
As well, BIAC received donations in early January 2009 from the Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation and the
McCool-Early Foundation. Thank you to both these foundations for their support of BIAC. We also received Memorial
Gifts in the name of people who passed away, thank you to the family and friends who supported BIAC in personal
difﬁcult times. Finally, I would like to say thank you to Heather Thomson for her successful completion (continued on page 3)
New Halifax Chapter The remaining ofﬁcers for the new Halifax Chapter
On behalf of the provincial board of the Brain Injury Association will be decided over the next couple of months. Once
of Nova Scotia, I am pleased to announce that the BIANS members they have been selected, this Chapter Board will
in the Halifax Metro area held their chapter re-establishment meeting serve a twelve-month term at which time there will
on November 4, 2008. At that meeting, the members of the new be a Chapter AGM and an election of a board by
Halifax Chapter Board were introduced. They are: the Halifax Metro BIANS members will take place.
– Jane Warren
Dr. Beverly Butler Sean Layden Chris Rafuse
Ellen Day Carol MacFarlane Laurie Wile-Yorke Conference: Relax and Learn 2009
Laura Hambleton Patricia McCaul Vincent Young
Robert Holmes John McKiggan
I extend a warm welcome to those new to BIANS and
congratulations to all. I know that good things will arise from
All the members of the Board for the new Chapter underwent an
intensive recruitment process conducted by the Joint Nominating
Committee comprised of Harriet McCready, Sandra Gaudet, Ken
Shea, Devin Way, Joe Lively, Chris Wentzell and Sheila Hardman.
|In her role as committee chair, Harriet said that she considered
it an honor to chair this committee. She added that for her an
unexpected bonus was getting to know and working with several
wonderful members of the BIANS family. As President of BIANS,
I know that I speak for everyone within our extended family of
BIANS when I offer a sincere thank you for the months of hard
work you undertook.
Also, on behalf of all BIANS members, I welcome Sean Layden
as President of the new Chapter. As President, Sean joins the
provincial board as the Halifax Chapter representative.
Synapse is a junction between two nerve cells, where the club-shaped tip of a nerve ﬁber almost touches another cell in order to transmit signals.
This column can be seen as a link between us all and will let you know what is happening in other parts of Canada.
(Toronto Hoo – continued from page 1)
The ﬁrst event of the 2009 Hawaiian Oyster Odyssey series was held in Toronto last night at Chega Restaurant. Promoting the
prevention of brain injuries and raising funds to advocate for survivors, the events feature stories from survivors. There is at least
one event scheduled in each province across Canada in 2009.
Everyone received a beautiful recycling bag which will be given out
at every HOO in Canada. It has a giant BIAC logo on one side and a
bilingual HOO logo on the other with the Insurance Bureau of Canada
logo, TD Bank Logo and Air Canada logo. Toronto Air Canada ﬁnalist is
Peter Beck, long-time BIAC supporter. There were 25 fabulous volunteers
6 months on the committee! Thank you all!
An amazing start to year 5! As BIAC Treasurer Howard Stevenson said
“the event was priceless.” Thanks to all who made it a wonderful night!
Looking forward to:
Halifax HOO April 2 Charlottetown HOO May 22
Saskatoon HOO April 18 Vancouver HOO June 15
Ottawa HOO April 21 Montreal HOO July 10
Edmonton HOO May 14 New Brunswick HOO Fall 2009
St. John’s HOO May 20 Winnipeg HOO date to be
David Caplan, Ontario’s Minister Health and Long Term Care.and
conﬁrmed Madeleine Welton, BIAC Board Member
6th Annual BIAC Conference Call For Abstracts
The local organizing committee has put together an exciting program along with entertaining social activities.
How to Submit Abstracts Subject Categories
An abstract must be submitted on the ofﬁcial abstract For the purpose of review and programming only, abstracts
web form; email or fax. Abstracts may be submitted, and will be divided into categories. Indicate the category you
presentations made, in either French or English. have chosen.
Fax: (819) 595-2458 Strategy: Strategy for short term and long term successful
E-mail: info at biac-aclc dot ca survival for survivors persons involved with brain injury.
Education: Education of persons about Brain Injury both
Preparation of Abstracts survivors and others.
The abstract should contain a concise statement of (i) the Prevention: Prevention of Brain Injury
intent of the presentation, (ii) content subjects and a brief Support: Support of persons involved with Brain Injury.
overview of each subject (iii) multimedia portions of Survivors, family, friends, co-workers and professionals.
presentation (iv) a conclusion (v) indicate clearly if a question
answer or discussion will follow. An abstract is not a formal
The Program Committee reserves the right to decide the
publication and therefore should not include literature
format of presentation on the basis of time and space
references or grant acknowledgements, etc.
available Abstracts will be reviewed by the Program
Committee and you will be notiﬁed of abstract acceptance
along with details on the form of presentation by April 15,
2009. Presenting authors must register by May 1, 2009
to ensure inclusion in the conference.
(Executive Director’s Message – continued from page 1)
of the Tri-the-World to raise awareness of Acquired Brain Injuries. Through her efforts of her team members BIAC
received a donation. Visit their website to ﬁnd out about her adventure to bring awareness to different parts of the world.
A few weeks ago, I attended the Toronto Hawaiian Oyster Odyssey - HOO, it was a wonderfully successful evening.
Congratulations and thank you to Howard Brown and his Toronto HOO committee members for a job well done. I would
encourage you to visit the HOO site, http://biac-aclc.ca/en/hawaiian-oyster-odysseys/ to see photos of this event and to read
the various testimonials and to see where there is one coming to your part of the country over the next 10 months. In the next
few months, BIAC will have HOO events in Halifax, April 2 and Ottawa, April 21. If you are located in these areas why not
volunteer or support the event by purchasing a ticket.
Once again, The Brain Injury Association of Canada (BIAC) calls on Canadians to contact their Member of Parliament and
declare their support for Private Members Bill C-289, which would amend the Hazardous Products Act so as to prohibit
the advertising, sale, or import into Canada, of recreational snow sport helmets that do not meet a national standard. The
amendment was re-introduced, February 5th, 2009, by the Honourable Dr. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre), in an attempt
to have it passed by Cabinet through an Order-in-Council. Visit the following link to ﬁnd out more about Bill C-289.
http://biac-aclc.ca/en/2009/02/06/to-all-members-of-the-brain-injury-association-of-canada-community/. I would like to
say thank you to Richard Kinar for his continuous efforts and dedication for his efforts for a safer Canada and advocating for
Bill C-289 and to Dr. Hedy Fry for bringing this bill forward in Parliament and for her efforts on behalf of a safer Canada.
As I complete this article, there is a small group in Victoria, B.C. beginning to plan a cross country cycling ride to bring
awareness on brain injury and to raise funds for the Brain Injury Association of Canada. As their plans develop, information
will be posted on our website.On behalf of BIAC, we wish them well as they take their dream to reality over the next few
months. To all those who will be organizing HOO events over the next few months, thank you for your efforts. Last but not least,
please remember that JUNE is Brain Injury Awareness month and if you have an idea on how to bring awareness to
ABI-TBI and its prevention, in your community, town, city, province take your dream and make it come through.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed by volunteering, donating and supporting the regional, provincial ABI groups and
Brain Injury Association of Canada, your efforts are appreciated!
Ontario Alliance for Action on Brain Injury
There are approximately 500,000 Ontarians who have an ABI, and ABI is more prevalent than breast cancer,
HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis – combined.
The Ontario Alliance for Action on Brain Injury (OAABI) is a long time coming. Our collaborative goal is to raise awareness
of ABI in Ontario, by educating the general public and people in government about what it means to have a brain injury.
We seek to partner with our provincial government to develop a detailed strategy on how to support people with brain injury
and their families in the community.
To this end, the Alliance created a video and four public service announcements (PSAs) demonstrating how ABI goes
misunderstood. Each PSA shows how a person’s life has changed since sustaining a brain injury, and the general public’s
inability to “see” the disability. Each PSA touches on a different aspect of life such as education, work, and homecare
showing that ABI is a life issue – not just a health issue.
Attention and awareness has been generated through media outreach in nine Ontario cities. The Alliance has also created
a website, http://www.see-us.ca where the video and PSAs can be viewed; as well as information on ABI, personal stories
and resources; and Ontario residents can e-mail their MPPs to bring ABI to their attention and highlight the importance
and necessity of supports in the community.
The founding partners of the Alliance are: Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA), Ontario Association of Community-based
Boards for Acquired Brain Injury Services (OACBABIS), Provincial Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Committee (PABIAC),
Toronto Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Network, and Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF).
The Alliance is a strong partnership that will push for important changes within the government, through better understanding,
expertise and collaboration.
Managing Intense Emotions After Brain Injury Anger:
If you can’t make it better, don’t make it worse.
– By Taryn Stejskal and Jeff Kreutzer
After a brain injury, many survivors and family members experience a number of strong emotions. A number of people say that
one of the most difﬁcult emotions to manage is anger. After a bad accident or injury, a great deal of people have good reasons
to be angry. For example, the injury may not have been your fault or you may feel frustrated that friends and coworkers are not
as supportive as you would like. Although anger may be a very natural response to your circumstances, anger can weaken your
ability to solve problems effectively, make good decisions, handle changes, and get along with others. Read: There is nothing
wrong with feeling angry. As humans were all get angry at some point or another. Remember, the important thing is what you
do with your anger; how you behave and handle yourself. In fact, concerns about anger control are very common. Many people
say that they feel angry more often, get angry more easily, and have more difﬁculty controlling their anger after an injury. This
article provides information on why controlling your anger can be quite difﬁcult sometimes, the dangers of anger, recognizing
early warning signs for anger, and ideas about how to better control anger.
Why is controlling anger so hard…sometimes?
For many people, family members and survivors alike, controlling anger can be more difﬁcult after an injury. Anger may be
demonstrated in many negative ways including irritability, impatience, hostility, yelling, cursing, and even threatening or being
physically aggressive with others. There are several reasons why you and/or your loved ones may have difﬁculty managing
anger effectively. First, brain injury can cause chemical changes in the brain, making it harder to manage anger and frustration.
Second, there are many changes after an injury. You may be upset by changes in your capabilities, for example, your ability to
participate in activities you previously enjoyed. Third, an injury can create a number of uncertainties. People report that they do
not feel in control of their lives. Sometimes people try to regain control through the expression of anger. After an injury, many
people encounter a number of problems they do not know how to solve. Often, there seem to be very few available solutions. All
of these problems may make you feel hopeless. Fourth, you may ﬁnd that people do not understand you. You may feel frustrated
with you insurance company, treatment providers, and feel as though you have to explain yourself over and over again.
Overtime, emotional reactions to all the changes can build up, making you feel…angry! (continued on page 6)
SBIA Hosts Volunteer Recognition Event
On November 20, 2008 a reception honouring ﬁfteen people who have made outstanding contributions in the ﬁeld of
Acquired Brain Injury was held at Saskatchewan’s Legislative Building in Regina. Awards were presented by Barb Butler
and Larry Carlson, BIAC Board Members and Past Presidents of the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association. A number of
Saskatchewan MLAs and Cabinet Ministers were also in attendance.
Those honoured include:
• Jon Schubert, previously President of Saskatchewan
Government Insurance, recently appointed President of the
Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.
• Pat Irwin, Past President of SBI and Prince Albert Support
• Dr. Phillip Carverhill, Neuro-psychologist, Saskatoon
• Doug Richardson, Q.C., HOO Committee Member, Saskatoon
• Richard Chapman, HOO Committee Member, Saskatoon
• Dr. Sergey Federov, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon
• Dr, John Owen, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon
• Brenda Van der Loos, Past President of SBIA, Calgary
(formerly Meota, Saskatchewan)
• Karin Buchanan, Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon
• Dr. Robert Capp, Wascana Rehabilitation Centre, Dr. John Owen, Brett Butler, Randy Butler, Barb Butler, Erin Butler, Pat Irwin,
Dr. Robert Capp, Doug Richardson, Rich Chapman
Special recognition went to an entire family. The Butler Family including Barb and Randy as well as their daughter, Erin and
their son, Brett were honoured for tireless work for the ABI community. Among other things the family does, they designed
and continue to work on SBIA’s Annual Walk and Barbecue, a fundraising event that has raised more than $100,000.
BIAC Board Member Howard Brown, Toronto, was also recognized for encouraging the development and ongoing
success of Saskatchewan’s version of the Hawaiian Oyster Odyssey. Howard’s comment regarding his award was, “The
Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association showed leadership in BIAC’s founding in 2003 and continues to provide a level
of commitment to the cause of brain injury across Canada that is second to none. I am proud to have had a small part
in building this partnership...and I accept this award with much humility, pride and gratitude.”
The awards presented in November are the ﬁrst of twenty ﬁve that will be presented this year and in 2010 when the
Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association will celebrate its twenty-ﬁfth anniversary.
The National Bursary Program Returns!
– By Yvan Teasdale
BIAC is pleased to announce the return of its $2,000 bursaries for brain injury survivors pursuing post-secondary education
opportunities in an English or French institution or apprenticeship/trades program in Canada. The Bursary program, managed by
the Government Relations and Public Affairs Committee, was created to promote Brain Injury Awareness Month (BIAM) which is in
Last year two young students from Victoria, B.C. and St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador had their dreams come true when they
were each awarded a bursary to pursue their academic endeavours.
If you were not selected last year, please try again, or if you did not apply you should seriously consider doing so in time for
the 2009–2010 school year. The deadline is April 30th. Bursary Program information is available on our website at
www.biac-aclc.ca and your regional acquired brain injury association.
Triathletes build awareness
on world tour The Brain Injury Association of Canada
After swimming, cycling,
is pleaded to announce
and running through sixteen
triathlons in eleven countries, 6TH ANNUAL
on four continents, over the
course of eight months, Brian
and Heather’s ﬁnal ﬁnish line
was bittersweet. Last Novem-
ber capped the end to a gruel-
ling adventure which, accord-
ing to their blog, they would
do all over again. When it
was all over the dynamic duo, July 10, 11, and 12, 2009
powered by their drive to build awareness for two
personal health issues, and with help from generous
sponsors like TriTheWorld and the Morley Hoppner SUCCESSFUL S.T.E.P.S.
Group, surprised BIAC with a check for $3600. Their (STrategies for Education, Prevention and Support)
selﬂessness and endurance is equalled only by their
passion to tell their stories, and bring hope to others
around the world.
Join us to celebrate success!
Please save the date to attend our conference. Online
After a battle with testicular cancer (a lesser-known registration, call for abstracts and will be available on
cancer which affects males between the ages of 15 our website www.biac-aclc.ca.
and 49), Brian has been very active, spending the past
ten years raising thousands of dollars and speaking to If you would like further information please feel free
thousands of people about his ‘obligation of the cured.’ to contact us at 1-866-977- 2492, firstname.lastname@example.org
“I have been given a second kick at life and have been or email@example.com.
living it like everyday could be my last.” From marathons
to Ironman triathlons, he hopes to reach as many people
as possible to give them the courage to move forward. (Anger – continued from page 4)
To learn more about Brian and his battle with testicular Also, there are a variety of reasons why you may have
cancer, visit nutsaboutcancer.com. difﬁculty helping your loved one manage his or her anger.
In 2005 Heather’s only sister Tammy was involved in First, the person may be unpleasant to be around. Second,
a motor vehicle accident. Tammy sustained a traumatic you may be more concerned with protecting yourself
brain injury (known as ‘brain sheering’); her doctor or other family members. Third, you may be afraid that
informing her family that she would never progress intervening may make the problem worse. Also, all of the
beyond a vegetative state. Today, Tammy has recovered changes you have experienced since the injury can make
well beyond doctors’ predictions, is communicative, and controlling your own emotions harder. You may feel like
continues to make progress with her motor skills. Heather you also have a shorter fuse. Still, you care about your
feels her eight months of triathlons to raise awareness loved one, and want to help. Luckily, family members and
of acquired brain injury pales in comparison to the friends are often in the best position to help one another
challenges that her sister faces every day. She hopes her control anger effectively. Living with one another or seeing
races brought to light the need for more public programs each other often means that family members and friends
that address physical rehabilitation as well as cognitive can help one another work on self-control and reinforce
and behavioural needs. positive changes on a regular basis.
The dangers of anger
Thank you so much, you two! Learn more about Brian
and Heather’s TriTheWorld tour at www.tritheworld.ca. Did you ever notice that the word “anger” is the word
“danger” without the “d” at the beginning? Anger can be
dangerous because it can cloud our judgment, causing you
to not think clearly when you speak or act. After the fact,
people often regret things they have done or said in anger.
Interestingly, anger can: (continued on page 7)
BIAC Meets Brain Injury Researchers in Montreal
– By Yvan Teasdale
At the invitation of Dr. Carolina Bottari, PhD, erg. Postdoctoral Fellow McGill University and her colleagues, BIAC’s
Executive Director Harry Zarins and Yvan Teasdale, Chair, Government Relations and Public Affairs Committee attended the
Rehabilitation Institute Gingras-Lindsay of Montreal and met with a dynamic and knowledgeable group of professors and
researchers specializing in the ﬁeld of acquired brain injury. Dr. Cathy Gow, C. Psych., Clinical Psychology, Neuropsychology,
Rehabilitation, Chair of the Research Committee, was unable to attend.
After the usual introduction, Yvan Teasdale presented BIAC’s vision and philosophy, its history, the challenges and goals for the
future, the need to develop partnerships and some ﬁnal thoughts. A National Injury Prevention Strategy to protect children in
Canada that includes public education, national standards, intergovernmental collaboration and input from civil society was
described as a top priority of BIAC. The researchers were inquisitive and interested in learning more about BIAC.
Thereafter, we had the pleasure of listening to interesting presentations by professors and researchers including:
• Dr. Bottari, Ergotherapy at McGill U., ‘’Understanding the repercussions of cognitive impairment on daily life’’
• Dr. Hélène Gélinas, Rehabilitation Science at McGill U., ‘’Perceived ‘Self-efﬁcacy’ in the performance of daily activities’’
• Dr. Hélène Lefebvre, Nursing Faculty at Montreal U. and Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en réadaptation (CRIR),
‘’From chaos to social inclusion’’
• Dr. Bonnie Swaine, Physiotherapy Program at Montreal U. and CRIR, ‘’Risk of subsequent head injury’’
• Dr. Deirdre Dawson, Occupational Therapy at Toronto U. and Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit, Baycrest,
‘’Rehabilitation for Real-world Performance’’.
• Elizabeth Dutil, M.Sc., School of Rehabilitation at Montreal U. and CRIR – Rehabilitation Institute Gingras-Lindsay of Montréal
Another participant was Dr. Guylaine LeDorze, a Professor at Montreal U., Speech-language Pathology and Audiology, who
conducted a research project titled: The impact of communication problems caused by neurological disorders on relatives and
During the presentations, we asked questions, exchanged ideas and information of interest to all. For instance, Harry Zarins
and other participants proposed ways as to how we can help each other with undertakings agreed to by various parties.
This was a successful meeting and we appreciated very much their hospitality. We left Montreal with a sentiment that there is a
sincere willingness to build harmonious and proﬁtable relations aimed at improving the lives of acquired brain injury survivors
and their families.
(Anger – continued from page 6)
• cause you to hurt yourself or others physically or emotionally.
• make people avoid you, or worse yet, be afraid of you.
• contribute to feelings of depression, loneliness, or isolation.
• be a factor is poor decision making.
• add to your list of problems.
As you can see, anger does not do many positive things for people. You may be wondering how to stop your own anger from
harming you or others. Your best bet is to be begin to recognize when you are getting angry in order to avoid losing your
What are some of the early warning signs of anger?
Early warning signs are emotional or physical changes you may notice as you begin to feel angry. Here is a list of early
warning signs people commonly report. Review the list and see if you can recognize additional early warning signs you
experience when you begin to get angry.
• Muscles tensing, clenching your jaw or ﬁsts, or tightening your shoulders
• Feeling your face ﬂush or feeling hot
• Noticing your heart beating faster than usual
• Churning or knots in your stomach (continued on page 8)
(Anger – continued from page 7)
• Over or under eating
• Feelings of being sad, overwhelmed, impatient, or irritated.
Also, there are patterns of thinking that can make you and/or your family members more prone to anger. People that are angry
more often tend to blame other people for their problems. Also, people get angry more often when they take things personally
or believe others are out to get them. Finally, many people get angry over “little” things like getting lost, not having enough gas
in the car, or ﬁnding dishes left in the sink. Try to prioritize the big and small issues in your life. You will feel better when you
tackle the important issues and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Tips and ideas for controlling anger
Once you recognize you and your family members’ early warning signs for anger, you can take steps to help yourself and your
family member(s) cope with anger more effectively. We’ve talked to lots of survivors and their families to identify strategies they
use to manage their anger. Take a look at the ideas we have shared with you. Talk these ideas over with trusted family, friends,
or professionals and pick out some tips you think will work for you and your family.
Recognize that you have the power to control your emotions.
• Controlling your emotions in a skill. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
• Remember that ups and downs are normal parts of life. Realize that it is normal to feel angry about what has
happened to you, but if you stay angry, and take your anger out on others, you are just making things worse. Instead of
focusing on the downs, try to focus on the good things in your life and look forward to the ups!
• Tell yourself to relax.
• Breathe slowly and deeply.
• Don’t say or do the ﬁrst thing that comes to mind. Count to ten. Waiting to respond can help you consider other
people’s feelings before you speak or act. This way, you will do not things you regret afterwards.
• Consider taking a break or leaving the situation. Oftentimes, when interactions get heated, it is best to take
some time away and come back to the conversation after you have calmed down. When things get heated, can make an
agreement with others to end a discussion when one person states that they need to take a break. Don’t forget to agree on a
time to resume the discussion later.
• Make plans in advance to handle situations that cause anger. There may be a few circumstances that you
know are going to upset you. Perhaps these circumstances are trafﬁc, coming home to a messy house, and or trying to get
your child ready for bedtime. Plan how you will use strategies to manage your anger in these situations ahead of time.
• Try to keep an open mind. Oftentimes, people get angry when they think they know what another person is saying.
Try to remind yourself that your family and friends are trying to help in the best way they know how. In order to reduce
misunderstandings, try to repeat what you heard the other person say (note: this is not what you think you heard). For
example, you might say: “So what you are telling me is that you do not think it is a good idea for me to stay at home alone.”
• Explain yourself calmly. Many people get angry when they feel misunderstood. Truly, it can be tiring to continue to
explain your situation to others. Try to be positive and sensitive to other people’s feelings. Doing so will make it easier for
others to understand you.
• Develop new or continue to use constructive ways to deal with anger. Many people say they feel better
when they go for a run, play a video game, write in a journal, take a walk, or talk with a friend. Having constructive
strategies at your ﬁnger tips will help you blow off some steam when you begin to feel irritated.
• Give yourself credit when you do control your anger. Instead of beating up on yourself, praise yourself when you
do keep your emotions under control. Also, ask yourself, “What is different about situations in which you are able to control
your anger?” Recognizing the circumstances or the actions you took not to get angry can be a powerful tool in learning to
better control your anger.
Are you stuck being angry? You need not be. Please remember, people who are angry for a long time often have trouble
seeing the positive and expressing positive feelings. If you feel uncomfortable about your anger, talk with trusted family,
friends, or professionals about your feelings. Also, consider joining a support group, so you can learn how others have dealt
successfully with difﬁcult feelings.
This column was written by Taryn M. Stejskal and Jeffrey S. Kreutzer from the VCU TBI Model System Family Support Research Program.
For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Stejskal at (804) 828-3701.