In partnership with
Name: Eric G.
Brain Injury: Snowmobile accident, I was drunk.
Explanation of Mask: My mask is my face after my brain injury. The groom with his mouth open represents anxiety because I don’t want people to treat me different. The guy with his finger over his lips symbolizes me being quiet so I won’t be judged. “What’s wrong with me?” represents my thought when people don’t treat me the same anymore! The word family crossed out means I wish I could be with them. The thought cloud is blame because I’m always bored. Home is there because I miss it. The flag represents the freedom I’ve lost, and the #7 because I am hopeful.
Name: Kira K.
Brain Injury: On December 26, 2012 I was coming home from work and I must have slipped on black ice. I went across the highway and was hit in the passenger side door which got pushed into my head and gave me a brain injury.
Explanation of Mask: My right side of my head was shaved many times because of surgeries I needed. I kept my long hair because I couldn’t stand to have it all shaved off. I have strong/positive on the shaved half of my head because I had to stay strong and tried to always stay positive. I put creative on the other half because of my brain injury gave me the time to let my creativeness out more. I put the word determined on one check because that is what I am and I think one of the reasons I made it as far as I have. I refuse to give up. I put the word fabulous on the other cheek because that is what I am and strive to be. I always need to dress to impress, which is why I have earrings and colored lips. I put that I have a good sense of humor on my lips. I often laugh about so many things. I always say “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry!” Crying is necessary sometimes, but I would much rather laugh than cry.
Name: Kevin M.
City: West Chester
Brain Injury: Fell down steps 4/19/09
Explanation of Mask: Trauma sadness and fear that transitions to a different life can be good. Trauma creates fear, uncertainty and depression. Let God carry you thru. The left stimulates the storm. The black line simulates the transition period once your new life is accepted. Upon acceptance, it is easier to realized life is still good. It is different, but not over. God pulled me out of the water into safety. Be sure to live the new life. Don’t look back – you are not going that way!! You did not suffer set-back, but a set-up for new things. Make the best of the new you.
Name: Mark M.
Brain Injury: Skull fracture with bleeding on the brain. Left craniotomy
Explanation of Mask: Playing soccer, I went to head the ball with my opponent beside me. I hit the ball and instantly my opponent hit my head with his head, crushing in my left temple. Imagine reaching for your temple and it not being there, where you have to push your finger in deeper to the distance of your fingertip to your second knuckle just to touch it. My opponent was injury-free. On the ground, my first thought was, “That was badass!” I was choppered to Penn Hospital in Philly that evening where it was still sunny. Surgery was performed the next morning and I now have 10 plates on my skull. Post-surgery I had 60 temporary staples where a headband might go, basically from ear to ear. I also had 2 black eyes from the injury. During the hospital stay I had family, friends and teammates visit me. That’s the reason for the heart. My dad mentioned that since my girlfriend came everyday while in the hospital, she’s my angel. So the heart is also for her along with the wings and halo. She helped me get through the stay and was/is there for me. We’re now married.
Negatively, I feel irritated and anger that it happened, as well as tired.
Positively, I’m a brain injury survivor. I’m alive! I’m lucky too as everything could have been much worse.
Name: Paul S.
Brain Injury: Stroke, occured October 2006
Explanation of Mask: Basically, my mask displays my orderly life before having a stroke and the state of disorder it is in after having a stroke. In October 2006 my life changed forever. From that point forward, my entire life was altered. I was no longer the person I had been. I was someone “new”! At that time of my stroke, I didn’t know what was happening with me. I tried to get ready for work and that morning my wife even went to a school meeting for one of our daughters. When she returned home, I was sitting on the foyer steps and said as best I could that something was wrong with me and she should take me to the hospital. I will always wonder if this delay in diagnosis and subsequent treatment had an impact on me fully recovering from this incident. Several weeks after my stroke, I wanted to go back to work, determined that I could improve my mind and my abilities. Yet after about four months of trying and failing, my job became something I could no longer do and I needed to leave the company. Since the time of my stroke, my mind has gone through numerous changes. One of the biggest changes is that I cannot fully focus my mind. I cannot remember multiple things at one time. If I have to focus on “one thing”, but then become distracted, I completely forget about that “one thing” unless something occurs later to remind me of it. It is very frustrating and after almost ten years since my stroke, I feel I have failed in life. Yet, I pull up my socks and go on, and strive to make some kind of contribution to this life. I am still not sure what that is or what it will be, but I fully believe it is out there for me…somewhere.
Name: Joyce A.
Brain Injury: NMDA receptor encephalitis
Explanation of Mask: Joyce completed her mask with her Recreational Therapist. Due to Joyce’s injury she has difficulty communicating her wants and needs. Joyce showed individuality and creativity through this mask. She was able to select feathers, stickers and decorations with field of two or three choices which is often a challenging task for her. She selected purple and pink as her primary colors. Through her husband, we know that purple is a meaningful color to her. The color purple is known to represent creativity and wisdom. Additionally, purple combines the calm stability of blue and fierce energy of red. All traits that explain and define Joyce along this journey.
Name: Claire L.
City: Newton Square
Brain Injury: Aneurysm/Stroke
Explanation of Mask: The aneurysm is the defining episode of the mask that delineates between before and after. That is, before the event, I was married, had a job and was happy. After the event, I was disabled, divorced and angry. Bravery and healing throughout and the end result is I’m HAPPY!
Name: Becky R.
Brain Injury: MVA when a man ran a red light
Explanation of Mask: The gray represents depression, the red is anger, and the blue is the beginnings of good feelings. The zipper and lock on the mouth are for how lonely and unable to communicate my pain I felt. The lightening stroke is for the years of post-traumatic seizures and the cross is for my deepened faith through this experience. The green represents my mind where I can still think complex thoughts (e=mc2), but they are jumbled and when they leave my mouth they are often simple and wrong after going through the TBI filter. The words around the outside are my new reality after the accident with doctors, meds, hospitals, lawyers, depositions, aphasia, apraxia and feelings of guilt, loss, depression, anger and finally empowerment.
Name: Steve G.
City: Marcus Hook
Brain Injury: Fall with multi-compartmental hemorrhage
Explanation of Mask: Steve felt a lot of anger and disappointment following his brain injury. On the mask, red represents anger and blue represents disappointment. Honesty and building relationships has been important to him during his recovery process, represented by light blue. Yellow represents his recovery process and the knowledge that he is getting better.
Name: Angelina L.
City: Drexel Hill
Brain Injury: Brain aneurysm that ruptured
Explanation of Mask: I chose “start each day with a grateful heart”, “look on the bright side”, “choose to see the food” and “stronger than yesterday”. I picked the quotes because they are optimistic and motivating. I picked the four leaf clover because I feel lucky to be alive. I also picked a cross because I believe in God. I picked a hear to represent the love I have for my family and friends. I picked the muscle to represent “stronger than yesterday”. I picked the teardrops to represent the emotion that came with the injury. I also picked the music notes because listening to music has made me feel stronger through all of this.
Name: David G.
Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury from car accident
Explanation of Mask: I have placed a beer bottle and police car because I was the passenger in a drinking and driving accident. The police car is also placed due to the first responders which I appreciate the most for getting me to the hospital. The blood is from the car accident and the gauze is from being in the hospital. The black eyes are for “blocking out” from drinking and not remembering everything right away. The word “destination” is because we were driving home. “Family, friends, faith and friendship” are all the things that have been affected by the accident. Mostly I am “grateful” for the places I have been treated by and my recovery.
Name: Katie R.
Brain Injury: I was in a car accident in November of 2003 and have diffuse axonal injury
Explanation of Mask: I chose sunrise colors to represent rising up for a new day. A fresh start every day. The song lyrics are from my favorite song. The words I picked; Believe, Hope, Journey and Imagine are important words for my recovery. Don’t stop, keep moving forward and smile!
Name: Tammy P.
Brain Injury: Meningioma on the left side of my brain for 8-10 years
Explanation of Mask: My mask has a small black spot where there is an injury that now is healing from the past. The other part of my face is yellow filled with new life and hope. This area is for friends, family and joy. I have found myself the person I was in the past and felt my life was darkened and less able to be happy or give to others as I am able. My life will need to have help from others so I can return my love to others. I had my first grandchild four weeks before my diagnosis of meningioma and she made me want to get better and live for her, her mom, my son in-law and my husband plus continue to live for myself.
Name: Mark Y.
Explanation of Mask: I really like nature, it’s amazing watching things growl. I drew sunglasses to shade myself from the sadness around the world. The logger represents my love for outdoor maintenance. The dinosaurs and the bears are from the childcare facility I work at, plus I love those animals.
Name: Dana B.
Brain Injury: Pedestrian hit by a car, traumatic brain injury
Explanation of Mask: My mask represents me. I feel invisible to the world NOONE sees me (with my brain injuries), hence my mask is all white, but the inside of my brain is a lot going on. My love of God and life, power of prayer and quotes of life. The two roses on the rights side are in honor and memory of my Mom and Nana who went to heaven while I have gone through traumatic brain injury. I always try to be in the zone and am always brainstorming and love the beach and water. Purple is God’s color and help and knowing Christ and making Christ known is my church’s saying where I currently attend.
Name: Caton D.
City: West Chester
Brain Injury: I was travelling at a high rate of speed when I hit an embankment. My car flipped six times as I was ejected from the vehicle.
Explanation of Mask: Weakness on my left side of body and face resulted in left neglect as the saliva (the blue drops leaving the left side of my mouth) and two offset eyes. The red in my eyes represents the ruptured blood vessels. The direction sign on the forehead of the mask represents indecisiveness and lost direction in my life. The blue bubble wrap is to be the P.E.E.K. (plastic) piece that was implanted on the seventh surgery. Making music was my therapy in helping me to cope with my life, hence the note on the right side of my mouth.
Name: Brandon T.
Brain Injury: My injury happened 3 years ago and ruined my life. I was just starting college and modeling.
Explanation of Mask: I painted it that way because the blue expresses how I’m sad and the red expresses how I’m mad and the yellow hair represents a Super Saiyan (a strong warrior) because I’m strong like a Super Saiyan!!!!!!
Name: Joseph D.
Brain Injury: I had a heart attack and died five times. My brain was deprived of oxygen. I have issues seeing and walking.
Explanation of Mask: The heart is how I became injured, but also part of how I am fighting to recover. The blood and tears represent the hard work I do every day to get better. Logan is my son and represents my love for my family. Superman represents my hero in my life. I love karate and have a 2nd degree black belt. The blank eyes represent my impaired vision.
Name: Bobby B.
Brain Injury: Drinking and driving accident
Explanation of Mask: I wouldn’t be this far without the support of my family. Also wouldn’t be this far if I wasn’t positive. I am very blessed to come this far and to be doing what I’m doing. The date of my accident was March 5, 2006. I am currently a speaker for Crusin’ Smart for Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. I have found my passion to help people after going through my TBI, whether it is speaking or when I volunteered for the hospital. The life is dedicated to change.
Name: Sean J.
Brain Injury: Diffused brain injury from lack of oxygen to the brain
Explanation of Mask: This mask represents my past life before injury to now. I like to go camping (tent). Flowers are for landscaping. I like sweets always (candy). I like to go fishing (fish). I like swimming at the beach. I have an Irish family. Yellow sticker represents “I am always wondering what’s going on”. I have short term memory loss. I am very friendly (Hi).
Brain Injury: TBI as a young teen, followed by multiple repeat brain injuries
Explanation of mask: The journey of my brain injury is full of emotion… loss betrayal, anger, hopelessness. Tears. It is dark and scary. But the light drives out the dark. It gets better. There is always hope… the pain is part of the process.
Hope to represent hope after Head injury and my determination to never give up. Music note to represent that I began to write music after my TBI and am not a singer-songwriter. Cross to represent faith and Jesus- the source of all my hope. Heart to represent the Love of God through it all.
Name: Dave E.
Brain Injury: I had a traumatic brain injury (contra-coup) with skull fractured, and hematoma. I was about 2 ft off the ground on a ladder. Snow and ice collected on my boots. My feet moved through the ladder rungs, I lost all control. The Olfactory Nerve was damaged leaving partial smell and taste. Years later, a CAT scan showed damage to both left and right frontal lobes. A day and a half later I woke up in the hospital and then released on the 4th day. Apparenlty I looked okay.. The dates were January 25-29, 1994.
Sixteen years later, I realized I wasn’t handling the stress will, having to work full and part time jobs and do anything required of a normal guy the rest of the day as well. No one said anything even if they knew it, and ignored whatever I said about it. I took another year till my questions, information collecting from the hospital, and was recommended to have my first baseline evaluation. That proved I didn’t just bump my head. Aging and deficits in executive functioning were increasing.
Explanation of mask: The amount of black on my mask depicts the depth of loneliness in my life no matter who I was around or what I’d say. I recently inquired of others, to speak to me about how I am perceived by others. Some have said I am very strong, those people who truly know me. As a part time employee, a number of people have asked a supervisor, “Is the CONDITION I HAVE, something I AM using as an excuse to be LAZY?” It has been said and proven that I am a hard worker. The same tasks do take me longer much of the time. People are nice but the silence can be deafening at times.
While all of this has been the Living Hell it appears, I know something else. I can see the Hand of God using all of this experience and knowledge to start coming along side others in ways that are unseen to many around them. There is now light coming to replace the deep darkness that was so predominate. The brightening days, Sunshine, and a Path represent His path and showing me new ways to go. I have to function differently. My cognitive stamina will allow me to be part of a team coming to the aid of another. This is the start of a new chapter in discovering the New Me.
Name: Dwayne S.
Brain Injury: I had a TBI on July 20,1988 by falling from a horse and needed a search party to find me. I was released from the hospital in early November, then did a few months of outpatient therapy.
Explanation of mask: I tried to do a ying-yang mask because in the accident I had caused some good and bad things. I lost the ability to hear in my right ear and individual finger dexterity in my left hand. The job I had before the accident allowed me to return to my job, but, I was not going to advance any further then I was so I went to college, received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. I then went to work as a caseworker for 17 years, currently working in an intellectually disabled household, to up the individuals function in a more typical environment.
In bad times; there is something good. In good times’ there is something bad.
Name: Jane W.
Brain Injury: Caregiver of a husband who had a Stroke
Explanation of mask: Deer Hunter. I choose Alive, because it was many years till I saw a gradual, healthy husband again and we both enjoyed many sunny days together which made me appreciate our marriage!
Name: Jane W.
Brain Injury: My husband was thrown off a horse, was rescued by a search party, in a coma for 1-2 weeks and in a rehab for 4 months. He had to learn to walk and write. He went on to graduate college and works full time.
Explanation of mask: My mask is grateful and joyful. I thank God for saving his life. The flowers represent life. The heart represents my love for him and his love for me. The 4-leaf clover represents a little bit of luck (or was it a miracle?) that he didn’t die that tragic day. I tried to make the mask beautiful to represent that life is still beautiful even though things are different and at times difficult. I’m grateful for my husband’s life.
Brain Injury: Mild concussion in Dec 2013 from a car accident
Explanation of mask: On the top the leaves express confusion, feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, and challenge. The trunk is feeling able because the trunk is strong. The forehead is black for worry and the red star is for feeling different. Around my eyes I feel dread, grouchy, angst and frightened. In my eye, I feel receptive. I feel glad that my injury was “mild” and positive rain drop because rain is needed for growth. The bottom of the mask is black and cool colors because of fear and helplessness. The middle is blank- this could represent the way my nose and cheeks go numb when I don’t pace myself or the way I need quiet and empty space to recover. The last thing I drew was the blue marks on the side for the muscles that tighten around my head when I read or focus for too long.
Name: Kathi S.
Brain Injury: TBI
Explanation of mask: Just alien – different. Mardi Gras
Name: Keenan Z.
Brain Injury: Right sided hemiplegic due to head trauma
Explanation of mask: Red means all the suffering and loneliness I had over the years. Blue means I’m on the right path. Yellow means that I am feeling the water before I say anything. Green means that I am going to have a successful life and the fire means how negative I used to be before I changed my life.
Name: Lester F.
Brain Injury: Stroke
Explanation of mask: Since my stroke I have been getting so much attention. I feel I have been taking too much for granted. I took a lot of attention from my wife when she needed it during her surgeries. So, I appreciate all she did for me.
Name: Rob P.
Brain Injury: My wife had a blood vessel break in left temple – not an aneurism, stroke and seizures
Explanation of mask: I cried for her, I yelled at God. Decisions had to be made – but were they the right ones – thus sleepless nights. Then asking God for HELP – pride needs to be put on the back seat. My wife comes 1st, God is 2nd, and then family and friends (a new set of them).
We watch each other
We help each other
We lean on each other
We CARE for each other
Name: Rose F.
Brain Injury: Caregiver
Explanation of mask: It is a mask of determination. I was determined to help my husband get well after his stroke. It has been an uphill battle for a while, but it has paid off. After hat I had four back surgeries, and as before, I was determined to get better. He has helped me and I have helped him and hat is what it is all about.
Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury in 2007
Explanation of mask: The red zigzag is because my blood was on the left side. I continue to have a significant scar from that surgery. The blue smile is because I continue to be optimistic and try to stay positive following my injury. My green forehead is because I had trouble turning off my brain at times.
Name: Steff D.
Brain Injury: Stroke
Explanation of mask: I like to clown around. I feel happy now cause I beat the stroke. God blessed me to overcome any negativity.
Brain Injury: TBI and complex Nervous System trauma. MVA – Rear ended by a tour bus.
Explanation of mask: Brain: The nail breaking open the cracks in the head signify ongoing headaches. The injured neuron signifies neuronal death and the desperation for the facilitation of efficient and effective neuroplasticity recovery.
Eyes: The windows to my soul and constantly being invaded by piercing light and an array of visual disturbances. The inability to track and perceive my surroundings, in a grounded way, have my eyes in a state of fire and fatigue.
Ears: The constant disruption of thousands of cicadas screaming in my ears and auditory sensitivity’s that can quickly tire my brain to a point of low functioning.
The Tear: Grief, loss, isolation, sadness, loneliness
Living a very strange and uncomfortable existence.
Mouth: Feeling the desperation and neglect of not being listened to; not being understood. Feeling shunned by those who are not present and not meeting me where I am.
Water: The first year and a half I felt like I was mostly underwater. Now I feel I have risen to the surface but have not found solid ground as of yet.
Nervous System Trauma: The impact sent shockwaves through my central nervous system and has affected all of my senses disrupting my perceptual awareness to a degree that makes it very difficult to navigate in this world and also within myself. This spinal and cervical whiplash as my nervous system on constant alert. My diaphragm has been frozen in a fear state unable to complete a full nurturing breath to sooth or restore me. I am often disturbed by the startle response which is extremely uncomfortable.
I am blessed to have my art to speak for me.