February 13, 2005


We are running into some issues with therapy lately. Russ is convinced that his only problem is his inability to speak. I spoke with Dr. Fellus about this at the award night and he told me that Russ is not in denial of his cognitive impairments nor is he embarrassed and trying to hide them. Dr. Fellus says he is truly unaware. Whenever something comes up that would demonstrate an area of impairment Russ simply thinks it is normal and anyone could have that difficulty. It is hard for us because we want to continue to give him encouragement but if we try to point out an area that gives him trouble it comes off as us picking on him.


For this reason we contacted Rusk Institute in NYC. Erika Warneck and Cara Ferber both attend the program at Rusk and have had great success. One of the cornerstones of their program is their belief that if a person with brain injury doesn’t believe they have cognitive impairments they will never be motivated to learn how to deal with their injury. Russ agreed to visit the program and see what it was about. A major concern we all had was whether his communication skills were advanced enough to participate in their program. For this reason the director of the program arranged for a “diagnostic interview” with Russ where he could speak with Russ in order to evaluate his skills first hand.


The interview went very well. George-Anne and I sat in while the director spoke with Russ. He was very patient. He treated Russ with a lot of respect and asked very interesting and sometimes difficult questions. It took some time. Russ considered his answers and then typed his responses on his keyboard. It obviously took time but the director was impressed with the quality of his answers and the amount of thought that went into them. He was also impressed that Russ has quite a good memory for a person with brain injury. The result of the interview was that they would arrange for in-depth testing that would identify cognitive impairments and judge whether their program could help address those problems.


All this time Russ would correct us. If we told someone Russ was going to attend the program at Rusk he would remind us that he was only going for testing and would attend only if the testing revealed cognitive impairments. Fair enough.


A couple of weeks later Russ and GA went to NYC for the testing. The testing took three full days. They took the train and a bus. Neither of them has commuted to NYC before so there were problems but they worked it out. Part of the program is group therapy with the other “trainees”. Russ got put on the ‘hot seat” in the group where he was questioned by the therapists and the group. The other portion of the testing was written tests.


We got the results back from the testing. In the results they commented that Russ was very interested at the completion of each test on how he did. They said that he got a big smile on his face when the test revealed that skill as normal. The results were spread out across the range of outcomes. The tests are judged normal, slightly impaired, moderately impaired and significantly impaired. Unfortunately Russ has a large number of significant and moderate impairments. I would like to be more specific about exactly what the tests revealed but I don’t know yet. Each test result has the name of the test and the result but since I don’t know the details of the specific tests the results a pretty meaningless. I am going to look up the tests on the internet and see if I can get a handle on what skills the tests were reporting on.


The bottom line is that they think Russ can benefit from their program. Also from what we have seen with Erika we know that the program will help Russ a lot. Their next session begins March 1. However, they are not sure they have a space for him. If he can’t get in the March program he is guaranteed a spot in the Sept 1 program. But that is a long time to wait. We will see. I am hoping they can work it out and get him in.


Thanks for following Russ in his recovery.