In late November I interviewed Laurie Rippon for NeuroNotes. I had followed Ms. Rippon through her blog, TBI to LIFE many of which addressed issues of loss of self and reinventing oneself after brain injury. Ms. Rippon, a successful and extremely competent editor and mother of two, enjoyed a great career in publishing until a pedestrian-car accident in 2005 sent her to the hospital with serious injuries. Her brain injury was not diagnosed and in 2006, she was hit by a motorcycle and had a second brain injury. The aftermath of this brain injury brought her into contact with the NYU Rusk Brain Injury Treatment Program which was developed by Yehuda Ben-Yishay, PhD and incorporates a holistic neuropsychological model for rehabilitation. Through this program and her own hard work Ms. Rippon addressed the challenges created by her injury and went on to graduate from the George Washington Graduate School of Education and Human Development in 2011 with a Master’s degree in Transition Special Education focusing on Acquired Brain Injury. Since 2007, Ms. Rippon has worked as a Peer Counselor in the Rusk program and serves on the Board of the Brain Injury Association of New York.
Ms. Rippon has stood up and taken control of her life and has moved herself from experiencing disempowerment following her injury and a “loss of trust in (her)self” to a life of purpose and direction as a Peer Counselor, Educator and Advocate. Ms. Rippon’s comments in our interview address the issues and problems which many people living with a brain injury disability face. She said “only by looking beyond your pre-injury definition of ‘self,’ can you create a personal narrative post-injury. Ms. Rippon wisely advises people to find a way to create that personal narrative which is so important to all of us.