CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) -- Elizabeth “Liz” Rooney is a multiple traumatic brain injury survivor.
“In my life I never knew what it was like to live without a brain injury,” said Rooney.
At the age of 16 months, she fell from the railing of a staircase. Later on in life, she had multiple concussions from numerous sporting injuries, including one time she was pole vaulting and her pole broke.
“My pole broke and I landed on my head in the box area, where you plant the pole between the two mats,” she said.
On top of all that, she was also in more than seven different car accidents by the time she was 25.
For years Rooney overlooked the effects of her falls, until she saw the changes they had on her health and cognition.
“There are some people who are OK with just taking the prescription medicine and coping with where they are. But I was 25 years old and everything fell apart for me. I couldn’t work my job anymore. I went from being a high-level athlete, and I couldn’t even get out of bed to go to work. My husband had to literally come home and pick me up and start shaking my arms and legs until my body would wake up enough,” said Rooney.
Several accidents contributed to Rooney’s TBI, but because her symptoms were often delayed, doctors were unable diagnose her. She said oftentimes, doctors would look at other organs and not her brain.
Due to some of Rooney’s symptoms being unseen, she said one of her toughest struggles was just getting people to take her seriously. She started doing some research on her own to find out what was wrong with her.
“I went through all of my medical records and I saw sure enough, it was after every accident that I would get really sick for months and months. I believe in healing; I believe in neuroplasticity and I did a lot of research. I read a lot of books. I watched a lot of videos from cutting edge neuroscientist,” said Rooney.
In 2014, after visiting doctor after doctor, Rooney said she was finally properly diagnosed.
“I have to travel all the way to Richmond, because he's the only neurologist that's certified in brain injury in the whole state of Virginia,” said Rooney.
While on her journey of healing, Rooney also created the organization called “Hope Unfading” to help people going through similar traumatic brain injury events.
“Our mission is to provide advocacy, educational, financial resources, coaching and inspiration to people with extraordinary brain challenges of any kind. We support people in the journey that they are on of actually recovering and rehabilitating from brain injury versus coping with all the loses,” said Rooney.
For more information on how you can assist “Hope Unfading” with its mission, you can visit their website at http://www.hopeunfading.com/ making a donation, sharing a resource, tell your story, or volunteering your time.