The Little Bird Who Forgot How To Fly

Caring For A Child With Traumatic Brain Injury

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Read "The Little Bird Who Forgot How To Fly"

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  • Once upon a time there was a little bird who was almost ready to leave the nest.
  • She could sing.
  • She could collect sticks.
  • She could catch worms.
  • She knew to look out for cats.
  • And most importantly, she could fly.
  • Her parents had taught her everything she needed to know. And they knew that it was almost time to let her go out into the world to build a nest of her own. They were very proud of their smart little baby bird. But then one day there was a terrible accident...
  • The little bird was down below her favorite tree, searching for worms and dodging cats, when suddenly a branch fell from above.
  • The branch bumped her on the head, and she didn't even have time to let out a squeak before she was knocked out cold.
  • The little bird's dad, who had been watching from a nearby rooftop saw what had happened. He quickly swooped down, picked her up in his beak, and flew to the hospital.
  • The little bird slept for three days and three nights, while her parents watched over her and worried. Which is a very long time for a bird to sleep.
  • On the morning of the fourth day, she finally woke up. But when they got back to their nest it was clear that something was wrong.
  • Her mother sang her favorite song, but she didn't join in. In fact, she didn't make a sound. Her dad flapped his wings, which meant it was time to fly down and collect some juicy words for breakfast. But the little bird remained still. You see, while she was sleeping she had forgotten. She had forgotten how to sing. She had forgotten how to collect sticks. She had forgotten how to catch worms. And she had forgotten how to fly. Her parents realized that their little bird wouldn't be leaving the family nest any time soon. That once again they would be her caretakers.
  • And so their new, yet old way of life began. They looked after their little bird just as they had done before. And they tried to re-teach her all the things that little birds need to know. But... things were different this time.
  • The little bird struggled to pick up the skills she had learned so easily as a chick. And worse, it seemed like her whole personality had changed. She was irritable. She was tired. She didn't want to see her friends.
  • It was like she wanted to climb back inside her shell and cut herself off from those who loved and cared for her.
  • Now they both loved their little bird dearly. And raising her had brought them enormous joy. But, they were older now. They were tired. They didn't have the same patience they had the first time around. Caring for her put enormous strain on their relationship. And it became clear that they couldn't do this alone.
  • That their little bird would need ongoing care from outside the nest. Professional therapy and rehabilitation. Now and in the future.
  • One of the hardest things to cope with was that their little bird who acted so differently looked just the same as she always had. She looked fine. Sometimes they even wondered if it was all an act. Whether she was just lazy.
  • And they would lose their temper. But they would quickly remember that it wasn't her fault.
  • And then they would feel incredibly guilty. Because while the branch that hit the little bird's head hadn't caused any lasting damage on the outside, the inside was a different story. The little bird's injury may have been invisible, but it was very, very real. The little bird had suffered a traumatic brain injury.
  • Traumatic brain injury is known as the invisible injury. Because just like the little bird, individuals with a brain injury often have no outward signs. But perhaps it should also be known as the secret injury.
  • Because it may surprise you to learn that brain injury is not just one cause of disability in children in the United States, it is the leading cause. Each year, an average of 62,000 American children sustain serious brain injuries that require hospitalization. Some will make a full cognitive recovery. But for many, their lives will be changed forever.
  • Children living with traumatic brain injury can experience problems with memory, concentration, and communication.
  • They may also suffer from anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
  • And for tens of thousands of American parents, their child's brain injury means a reversion to the role of full time caregiver. Traumatic brain injury impacts the daily lives of over five million Americans and their families. It's time that more was done to raise awareness, and to support those living with TBI, their families, and caregivers.
  • And to help our little birds fly again.

Why We Created This Video

While the symptoms experienced by children who have sustained a traumatic or acquired brain injury are similar to adults, the functional impact upon the child and his or her family is significantly different.

These injuries affect the entire trajectory of a child’s life and changes the family dynamic. Children are growing and learning, and the cognitive impairments may not immediately be recognized because their brains are still developing. As the child ages, and is relying on more complex intellectual skills, these deficits may become apparent. These impairments interfere with the ability to learn new information and function at a higher, more independent level. A child’s brain injury will affect his/her ability to be successful in school, obtain or retain a job, and adapt to the increased demands of adult life.

We created this video to shed light on how these injuries affect children and their parents. It affects their ability to remember old skills and learn new ones. Their parents, who may be looking forward to their children maturing, and growing into independent adults, find themselves confronted by the real possibility that their child may need their support and assistance long past adulthood.

Although families understand the importance of the brain, very few families comprehend the consequences of a brain injury. Often, family members observation of physical improvement leads them to unrealistic expectations regarding cognitive, emotional, and behavioral recovery. Parents may believe that their children are not trying hard enough to recover their old level of independence and grow frustrated. Rather these children require rehabilitation, remediation, accommodations, and support to relearn what they’ve lost and to move forward in their lives. This may be a difficult adjustment for the entire family and parents must learn to reevaluate their expectations for their child. This is especially true when there is damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain which will control a child’s ability to learn.

Parents will find that their child looks the same as they did prior to the injury but have a new and different attitude, personality, and may become depressed and anxious. A previously happy-go-lucky child may regress and become sullen, immature, and uncooperative.

Parents must learn how to best help their child regain a level of independence, relearn skills, acquire new knowledge, and adopt coping skills to reach a more significant level of independence. The entire family must learn how to change their outlook. One person’s brain injury has devastating effects on the entire family constellation, with parents functioning as perpetual caretakers. They may worry about what will happen to their child once they no longer can provide that assistance.

We hope this video will assist in communicating the difficulties both children and their parents themselves confront.

Brain Injury and Children--Resources:

General Information

School Resources for Parents, Teachers and School Administrators


Pediatric Neuropsychology

Pediatric Medical Management

About Shana & Michael

shana de caro & michael v. kaplen

Shana De Caro and Michael V. Kaplen are personal injury attorneys dedicated to assisting brain injury survivors navigate the road after traumatic brain injury. With extensive experience in representing victims of brain trauma, they are prepared to guide brain injury victims through the legal obstacles they will confront and recover full and fair compensation for the harms and losses their clients have suffered as a result of someone’s careless or negligent conduct.

De Caro & Kaplen, LLP is a New York personal injury law firm focused on representing victims of brain injury. Our attorneys have the knowledge and skill to make a crucial difference in the lives of brain injury victims. Specialized brain injury cases require a law firm with the experience and proficiency to assist brain injury victims through the most difficult legal challenges in their lives following a traumatic brain injury.

Shana and Michael are nationally recognized for their advocacy on behalf of brain injury victims. Shana is in her second term as an officer, and a member of the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of America . Michael is a three-term past president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State and current Chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council. They have been designated Preferred Attorneys for the Brain Injury Association of America.

Their opinions on traumatic brain injury are frequently sought by The New York Times, USA Today, The Daily News, Fox News Network, and others. They are widely respected throughout the legal, medical, and judicial communities. The two regularly lecture lawyers, medical professionals, and judges, across the nation on how traumatic brain injury clients and cases should be evaluated and handled in and out of the courthouse.

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