For the Rev. Richard Cromwell, words are the tools of his trade. So when a stroke last year robbed the Episcopal priest and substance-abuse counselor of his language skills, he turned to Bancroft for help. Now, Cromwell is back in the pulpit, as well as assisting people with addictions.
I was able to learn how to express myself again,” says the 61-year-old, who received outpatient rehab last spring from Bancroft Brain Injury Services in Plainsboro, N.J. “Bancroft has made it possible to be mentally fit to do this [work]…Otherwise I would’ve sat home, done simple chores, and become a couch potato for the rest of my life.”
Indeed, Bancroft’s outpatient services in Plainsboro, Cherry Hill and Brick help many people like Cromwell regain skills they’ve lost after a brain injury, notes staff neuropsychologist Mary Brownsberger, Psy.D. “They can come to Bancroft for speech, occupational and physical therapy,” she explains.
“We can support their desire to go back to work, and help them access supported employment and job coaching.”
For those with physical dysfunctions, Bancroft therapists can help them re-master a full range of daily living activities, from brushing their teeth to walking, cooking safely to learning to drive again.
Bancroft also offers outpatients neuropsychological testing and treatment. The testing identifies one’s cognitive, emotional and behavioral strengths and weaknesses, while the treatment addresses specific challenges and helps one adjust to these changes.
In addition, outpatients can receive cognitive rehabilitation, which teaches strategies to compensate for intellectual challenges — such as using a daily planner to keep track of activities — and strengthens the injured brain’s weaker functions through various exercises.
Plus, Bancroft specializes in addressing dysfunctional behavior, which can include training people to express emotions appropriately, control compulsive behavior, or avoid substance abuse.
“Someone with a brain injury may experience a complete personality change,” says Brownsberger. “We help them develop strategies to cope with their behavioral challenges.”
In Cromwell’s case, his focus was mainly on regaining his communication abilities and getting back to the jobs he loves. While at Bancroft’s Plainsboro program three mornings a week, he worked with several specialists, including a speech therapist and a vocational counselor.
For instance, speech-language pathologist Barbara Miller helped Cromwell improve his reading comprehension and strengthen his weakened mouth muscles and vocal cords. Vocational counselor Cindy Jerome re-taught the Plainsboro husband and father to advocate for himself and others by telephone, and arranged for Cromwell to give mock sermons to others in the facility’s lunchroom.
“That was good practice,” says Miller. “Richard did very well, very quickly.”
“I gained self-confidence,” emphasizes Cromwell, who’s learned to use notes while giving sermons, rather than speaking extemporaneously as he had done in the past.
“In all the work I did here — physical, written, spoken word, mathematics, re-
familiarizing myself with the computer and Internet…saw over time these things were coming back,” recalls Cromwell. “I was fortunate to have people around me to help me do these things.”