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Meet Susan Rueb of Brain Rehabilitation And Injury Network (B.R.A.I.N.) in Cypress

B.R.A.I.N. Leadership Team (from left to right): Director of Operations, Jana Warren; Founder and President, Susan Rueb; CFO, Joan Jensen; and Speech Language Pathologist, Angela Mandas, MA CCC- SLP

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Rueb.

Susan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In 2006, our family discovered the reality of our own daughter’s brain challenge and we realize that challenge continues to impact us to this very day. After being told that Kristin was schizophrenic and needed long term mental health care, we began a journey to find how who and what would be helpful to our daughter. We were shocked to find the resources to be scarce and the living facilities available to our daughter were way less than adequate.

Our experience within the county mental health system often made us wonder who the patient was. We went through conservatorships, dual diagnosis facilities, psychologists, psychiatrists, truckloads of paper work and were given no real answers to our need for true caring help for Kristin. We desperately knocked on doors, called phone numbers, emailed organizations for help. We learned that there are a lot of people with salaries and names on doors in the mental health field whose sole purpose is to tell families that there is no real help available to them for their brain injured loved one.

In the confusion of trying to find assistance, we were encouraged to get a brain scan to be able to accurately diagnose our daughter’s disability. The scan showed brain trauma to Kristin’s frontal lobes which made all kinds of sense to us as we went back on her 31 years of life. I was given an overdose of Pitocin and had a rushed forceps delivery. The brain injury diagnosis made no difference in getting adequate care and housing for Kristin. She has been in at least 12 different housing facilities since her disability was diagnosed in 2001. I know we can do better to care for those with brain injuries.

Knowing the urgency of having adequate care for our daughter in the future gave us the motivation to begin B.R.A.I.N. We are an organization where families can gain insight, information as well as investment return when they donate to the brain injury cause. We want to create a home atmosphere facility for those who have sustained a brain injury. We believe that those with brain injuries deserve a lifestyle that is full of purpose, grace, and dignity. We believe that there is much to learn and much to be grateful for as a family moves forward with a brain-injured loved-one. B.R.A.I.N. exists to give those with brain injuries hope for the future.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The main challenge we have faced is the lack of awareness that exists for the issue of brain injury. Issues like Mental Health, Autism, Parkinson’s, and Developmental Disabilities have causes that are readily understandable to most of society. However, brain injury is less well-known as a championed issue. Ironically, every 21 seconds, someone in the U.S. sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI). So it is an issue that should be addressed and given more awareness. I think the reasoning behind this lack of awareness is the fact that there is no pharmaceutical answer to brain injury; “there is no money” in brain injury care. It’s been a challenge to convince people of the common issue of brain injury. Now, after a few years of more publicity in the sports and military arenas, our message has been accepted more readily.

Brain Rehabilitation And Injury Network (B.R.A.I.N.) – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Brain Rehabilitation And Injury Network (B.R.A.I.N.) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the highest level of research, recovery and residual care for adults who suffer from a brain injury, and to providing their families with resources and support.

B.R.A.I.N. offers various therapies (including: speech therapy, cognitive therapy, physical therapy, massage therapy, and life coaching), classes, support groups, social activities, and resources and referrals to brain injury survivors and their loved-ones. This multi-faceted and unique organization provides a place of understanding and hope to many. With over 1 million brain injuries occurring each year in America, it is time to give a voice to this unrecognized issue.

B.R.A.I.N.’s ultimate vision is to build a premier adult community that specializes in offering therapeutic solutions for brain injury survivors. Because each brain injury is unique, the center will be created to address individual needs. We are currently searching for a facility or property to build on, as we are space-challenged where we are.

We are currently the only post-acute brain injury center that combines therapy and socialization, and we do not discriminate based on a person’s financial position.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success, to me, is being able to give resources to the individual needs that come our way. When hospitals, clinics, or individual families call our office for help, I know I’m successful when I am able to give them the proper help that they seek.

Contact Info:

Group photo from the Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.) program that meets every Tuesday from 5-7pm, with brain injury survivors, caregivers, and volunteers

Table time at an F.B.I. meeting

The Yoga for the Brain Class that meets every Monday from 10-11am

Annual Bowling Event in Long Beach with survivors, caregivers, and volunteers

Building friendships at F.B.I.

The B.R.A.I.N. Therapy Choir (composed of mostly TBI and stroke survivors) performing a Carpenters song. Research has shown a therapeutic connection between music and increased language expression.

Susan Rueb at B.R.A.I.N.’s annual picnic in Los Alamitos

Susan accepting on behalf of B.R.A.I.N. an award for Business of the Year in January 2015 from the City of Cypress.

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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