Alumna’s book raises awareness for traumatic brain injury (TBI) support

December 12, 2014
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An estimated 2.5 million children and adults in the U.S. sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, and 5.3 million Americans live with a long-term disability as a result of TBI, according to the Brain Injury Association of America (2014). Yet, very few educators and schools are prepared or certified to assist students with TBI toward social, emotional, and academic success.

Kelly Bouldin Darmofal C’00 has published Lost in My Mind: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to generate awareness and understanding regarding TBI and to elevate the need for training specifically for TBI within the educational community. Her book was released at a special event, hosted by Salem College, on December 11, 2014.

Lost in My Mind is the account of Darmofal’s personal experience with TBI over the past 22 years. In 1992, she suffered a severe closed-head injury, the result of a car accident. She was 15 years old. Now 37, the educator, wife, mother, and advocate for better TBI resources and support systems says she hopes her book will “change the future for millions of students with traumatic brain injuries.”

In writing the book, Darmofal utilized journal entries, written during initial years following the accident by her mother, Carolyn Bouldin C’71. Her mother’s almost daily observations, helped Darmofal piece together the details of her painful recovery, her frustrating re-entry into high school, and her challenging journey through college and graduate school and friendships. Lost in My Mind sheds light on the general lack of knowledge and training at educational institutions and among educators, which she says inhibited her academic, and social, progress in the early years of recovery.

“The book not only recounts my personal struggles with a traumatic brain injury, but also reveals how I chose to remedy difficult situations utilizing numerous, unique strategies, which may offer similar sufferers some helpful insights of their own,” says Darmofal, referring also to the high number of American soldiers and athletes who are afflicted with mild, moderate, and severe TBI. 

Lost in My Mind is also a story of triumph. As a result of her own persistence and that of her family and friends and doctors, Darmofal navigated a very successful college and graduate school experience at Salem College.

“One faculty member at Salem College did have experience working with the brain-injured,” Darmofal writes. “Such knowledge was a plus for this fine liberal arts college, the first to educate women in America.” (p. 115) 

Darmofal earned degrees in education and specialized in teaching children with disabilities. While these alone are significant accomplishments for one with TBI, Darmofal writes poignantly about other equally significant achievements: learning to walk, learning to speak, relearning how to write with her left hand, relearning multiplication tables, finding ways to remember content for exams, and how to find her way back home, to name only a few.

Today, Darmofal continues to navigate the effects of TBI, while she balances the demands of motherhood and her many contributions to conversations about TBI and special education.

Lost in My Mind is published by Modern History Press and was celebrated this week at a book signing party that was held on the campus of Salem College and attended by close family friends, local physicians, and others who support Darmofal’s efforts regarding TBI.

At the event, Salem Academy and College President D. E. Lorraine Sterritt described Darmofal as courageous and praised her for her honest and moving story and her commitment to raising awareness within the educational community of the challenges faced by those with TBI.

Visit www.imlostinmymind.com to learn more about the author, traumatic brain injury, and how to purchase the book.