Certification Furthers Therapist’s Passion

Jean Herauf, SLP, our area manager in Dickinson, North Dakota, thought twice about getting a certification to be a certified brain specialist. “It’s late in my career,” she said, “so I wasn’t sure it made sense.” But some colleagues who serve with Jean on the Governor’s Brain Injury Advisory Council encouraged her, and so she went for it.

The certification process included reading an almost 500-page textbook, completing a number of related clinical hours and two full days of training. Jean said the book was daunting but helpful, and she especially appreciated the two days of training with other professionals including physical and occupational therapists, social workers and psychologists. “The training focused some on communication and cognition that are within my realm as a speech therapist,” she said. “but it also included a lot that wasn’t, so that really broadened my understanding of the many ways lives and relationships are affected by a brain injury.”

Jean has always been passionate about brain injuries and has been a resource for many RehabVisions therapists over the years. This certification only strengthened her passion to educate people about this “invisible injury.”

She said most people don’t understand the effects of a brain injury, and there’s a great need for education among families, teachers, coaches and even physicians. “People get hurt and are treated for their physical injuries,” she said. “They are often told their headaches will go away in time but often they don’t, and there are other effects people don’t see but need to understand.”

She said brain-injured individuals often have difficulty with sensitivity to light and sound, emotional regulation, sleep, headaches, memory, decision-making, attention and focus, and initiation and these are just a few. “As you can imagine, any of these factors would impact a person’s ability to function at work, school and home, and relationships also often suffer due to brain injury,” Jean said. “The brain is working so hard to process information and make sense of things. Frequent cognitive rest breaks are often necessary to allow the brain to recharge. Just a simple task such as filling gas at the pump might be overwhelming—choosing which gas, selecting to pay inside or at the pump, indicating yes/no for car wash and receipt, following the correct sequence.”

Jean said as a society, we expect that the harder we try at something, the faster we’ll get better. “That doesn’t hold true for the brain injured. Things often need to be broken down for them, and strategies applied to help them be successful with their tasks,” she said.

Jean plans to partner with the public schools in her area to help educate parents and teachers. “Therapy for brain injuries can be life-changing for people,” she said. “They just need to know that it’s a possibility.”


Michael Goldsmith

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