Turning Brain Injury into a New Career

2016-0118 Ann Zuccardy

At the time of her injury, Ann Zuccardy was working in what she once considered her “dream job” — as a corporate communications specialist for National Life Group in Montpelier. While traveling in Germany she slipped when stepping into a hotel bathtub and slammed her forehead into a tile wall.

Zuccardy was lucky, or so she thought at first. She never lost consciousness, and she felt just “a little drunk afterwards.” She slurred a few of her words but felt “mostly OK” the following day.

However, during the next few days, Zuccardy’s symptoms grew progressively worse. She began stumbling and slurring her speech more often and had difficulty focusing on printed material. Her short-term memory deteriorated; she had trouble remembering even simple tasks and facts, such as the day of the week. Then she began to vomit.

When Zuccardy finally went to see her doctor, he sent her immediately to the hospital. There, a brain scan revealed a “coup contrecoup” head injury.

Two months after her injury, Zuccardy finally turned to a sphere of activity that had served her well throughout her career: social media. The self-described “accidental neuroscientist” launched a blog called I Want My Brain Back to air her frustrations and seek resources for recovery. Using voice-recognition software to type, Zuccardy learned about local physical therapists and speech pathologists who specialize in brain injuries. Soon she discovered that she could overcome her limitations through what she calls “creative adaptive mechanisms.”

Zuccardy is now a speaker and author.

Credits

Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

Thanks to Ann Zuccardy for sharing her experience; TEDx Phoenixville for  allowing Zuccardy to share her thoughts; Google for helping my find the story Zuccardy shared; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture, links, and text in this post.

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