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Bob Pignataro

After being thrown from his car in 1990, Bob Pignataro experienced a severe brain injury that resulted in personality changes, disturbances in thinking and loss of memory and inhibitions. When he awoke from a five-week coma he transitioned to an acute rehabilitation facility, where he worked with therapists to resolve the more visible effects of his acquired brain injury (ABI) like his speech and mobility. The most severe repercussions of his injury, however, proved to be the disturbances to his cognitive abilities. After 17 years, Bob still struggles to fully regain these functions. As evidenced by Bob’s story, ABI recovery can be a long, arduous process. Soon after his injury, Bob realized that he’d have trouble returning back to his former lifestyle. “I tried to get back into academics, but I was way off,” Bob said. “I tried to go back to work as a glass blower, but my reaction time was slow.” Between problems with his medications and his frustrations with the recovery process, Bob reports falling repeatedly flat on his face. After one such incident, he became involved with Bancroft, in search of a “stable” environment. Bancroft’s highly individualized approach provided the structure Bob needed. He lives on his own at an apartment complex in Medford, N.J., where Bancroft provides oversight and support. Every Tuesday he takes NJ Transit to Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia, where he takes art classes. On Fridays and Saturdays, he works at Manor Care, an assisted living facility. “I have to live in a routine,” Bob said. “It saves me time because it prevents me from getting confused or upset. I know it’s a part of my life.” In addition to maintaining a routine, Bob believes staying calm helps him cope with his injury and work on his recovery. To this day, he continues along the path to recovery, remembering things in waves and strengthening his short-term memory. His art classes help him improve his memory, especially his sculpting class, where he must recall parts of the body to recreate busts or produce original works. “I’ve learned to sit tight and pay attention to detail,” Bob said. “I’d advise others to chill out and wait for their memory to return. It won’t happen overnight.” To help him relax, Bob enjoys exercising, and making stained glass in his apartment. A talented artist, Bob has sold pieces at Perkins, a prominent area art center, and at local flea markets and crafts shows. He hopes to continue pursuing his passion and sell more pieces in the future. Bob is just one of many Bancroft success stories. With brain injury programs throughout South and Central New Jersey, Bancroft helps individuals with brain injuries turn small steps into giant leaps in the recovery process.
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