Intern Spotlight - Ryan Chinn

My name is Ryan Chinn.  I attend Bates College and I interned with Supportive Living in the summer of 2016.  In this program I worked one-on-one with Peter R. As a fully ambulatory and physically functional individual, many would not know of  Peter R's brain injury on first glance. But after a couple of minutes of interaction it becomes apparent that Peter suffers from serious cognitive impairments. As he continuously asks about wanting to go to eat, or go to bed, I found encouraging and coaching Peter through his workouts to be tedious and sometimes frustrating. I felt at times like my effort was all going to waste except that every once and a while I would break through and see the real Peter. A sarcastic, fun loving father who loves being active and busting a move to his favorite beats. Peter has shown me not only how individualistic brain injuries are, but also the resilience of survivors. Often after he pushes me to the end of my patience, Peter will dawn a smile, ask a question, or bust a move and in that instance is when I know all my efforts are well worthwhile.

Besides my one-on-one work with Peter, I worked on the Supportive Living and Boston University ABI Nutrition Project. Nutrition is an essential element to individual well being and health, especially when dealing with brain injury. In rehabilitation settings, it is crucial to provide brain injury survivors with the best diet possible to help fuel their minds and body toward recovery. However, the benefits of a balanced, healthy diet are often outweighed by impulse and urge to satisfy deeper and more powerful cravings to experience one of the few levels of pleasure similar to pre-injury conditions for ABI survivors. This project gave me a greater understanding not only of areas of health and wellness for brain injured individuals but revealed a deeper primal drive to experience pleasure and satisfaction for a person who lacks inputs of unadulterated pleasure and reward. Thus, the project exposed me to a systematic struggle to establish a balance between fulfilling residents’ happiness and health.