Spotlight on BIRL Volunteer Elayne Masters

BIAPA is very proud and appreciative of our Brain Injury Resource Line (BIRL) team!  This month we are shining the spotlight on Elayne Masters, who began her involvement with BIAPA in 2019.

Here is Elayne’s inspiring story in her own words.

In 2014 I was finally achieving success after years of balancing life as single mom and entrepreneur (freelance writer/editor) until my mother went into the hospital. The next twenty-six months, I tried to care for Mom and salvage my business, Word Masters, because the alternative was unthinkable for me. Again, life intervened. On November 12, 2015, sheer exhaustion sent me tumbling down my basement stairs: I hit the right wall, bounced off the left, and landed on the top of my head on the basement floor.

The next day, my PCP confirmed that I had a concussion but didn’t send me for testing. Six months later, Mom died; a month later, I got Lyme disease, and life started to unravel. I couldn’t drive in heavy traffic. I couldn’t read my mail or a book beyond the level of a chapter book. I couldn’t use a computer. I lost my business, and I lost friends/family. I thought I was going crazy and was on the brink of becoming homeless.

Nearly two years later, I was referred to a concussion clinic and learned I had PCS, or Persistent Concussive Symptoms. After learning about TBI, I realized that I had had many other concussions, some due to domestic violence when I’d been married. Among other things, I had lost executive functioning and memory/recall skills. Although 60 percent of people who suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) recover fully, many of my concussion symptoms are still lingering.

Late 2018, I decided to devote myself to helping victims of brain injury, domestic violence, and poverty so they would not have to suffer as I had. Within months, I was referred to the BIAPA to attend National Brain Injury Awareness Day in D.C. and attended again the next year just before Covid lockdowns. In 2019 I attended BIAPA’s conference and since then became a BIAPA Ambassador and BIRL volunteer.

I advocate often on behalf of North Hills Community Outreach and the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank (GPFB) and have been interviewed for their websites and local news station telethons. VIEW VIDEO HERE. In 2021, I was invited to present with state representatives at a press conference announcing $11.4 million food bank funding.

This year, I started an Instagram account, Brainiactivist, to increase awareness about the relationship among brain injury, domestic violence, and poverty. And recently, GPFB nominated me to attend the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on September 28, 2022. My advocacy has changed my life and given me purpose, and I feel both humbled and honored for the opportunity to speak out for survivors.