A Recap of My Trip to Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland

With Andy Wayne, Director of Marketing at Communications at MWPH

This past week I was on the road to Baltimore, MD where I had the pleasure of meeting with the amazing folks at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (MWPH). 

They brought me out so that I could write a feature story on their amazing “Adventures Abilities” program, which allows some of their youth brain injury patients to attend a 10 day camp in Park City, UT.

I had the pleasure of interviewing six of their staff members:
– Dr. Richard M Katz, Chief Medical Officer
– Christy Sands, Senior Physical Therapist
– Dr. Joseph E Cleary, Pediatric Neuropsychologist
– Susan K Dubroff, Director for Rehabilitation Services
– Lindie A McDonough, Abilities Adventures

Interviewing Lindie McDonough, Director of Abilities Adventures and School Liason

And learning more about the hospital and their different programs:

Christy showing me their NeuroCom balance testing machine they use on all concussion/brain injury patients

I was beyond impressed with this hospital, which is a step-down hospital (meaning they have already been hospitalized and are now coming there to prepare for going back home). The entire staff is so incredibly kind and caring, and they have an amazingly high retention rate. They truly care about their patients and want to see them succeed in life. Once a child leaves the hospital, they continue to keep in touch with them!

The Abilities Adventures program is currently open to individuals who have been part of their brain injury rehabilitation program. All of the  staff I spoke with have had interaction with these kids at one point or another during the course of their stay, and as I mentioned before, they truly care about them.

Everyone was incredibly knowledgeable about concussions and brain injury, and I wouldn’t hesitate to send someone I know to this hospital.  If you’re familiar with my story and the amount of doctors I encountered who did nothing to help me, I am quite the critic when it comes to hospitals and clinics — and I give these guys an A+!

With Alicia Cignatta, Outreach Director for the BIA MD

Before I headed back home, I had a quick opportunity to meet the staff at the Maryland Brain Injury Association! Thanks to Alicia Cignatta, Outreach Coordinator, for reaching out to me on Twitter to connect!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Caitlin Exline Starr, Manager of Support Services, and Bryan Thomas Pugh, Executive Director.  They all took time out of their morning to come in early to meet with me as it fit into my busy schedule! I had a wonderful time chatting with them, and hearing about what they’re doing in MD!

WCCO Radio Interview | Minnesota State Fair | Concussions & CTE | Amy Zellmer & Dr. Jeremy Schmoe

Yesterday I had the pleasure of sharing my concussion/TBI journey on WCCO Radio on “News and Views with Roshini Rajkumar” … and to make this episode even more special … we filmed live at the Minnesota State Fair WCCO News Radio booth!!

I have known Roshini for several years since photographing her for her Savvy MN Magazine cover shoot and she has been a great friend and resource to me since — she also introduced me to my amazing women’s writing group!

Roshini asked Dr. Jeremy and I to come on her show this week to talk about National Concussion Awareness Day coming up on September 15th, as well as the latest report on NFL players and CTE. We also talked a lot about our fantastic feature story in this month’s Experience Life magazine which is focused on concussion awareness. You can read the full feature story here: http://bit.ly/2itUHeF

We talked for over 20 minutes on our segment and covered a lot of great info. Roshini commented on how she has watched my recovery progress and can tell how much I am improving every time she sees me on her show … she even got a little emotional which got ME emotional LOL! I owe a huge part of my recovery to Dr. Jeremy Schmoe at Minnesota Functional Neurology … he was the first doctor to truly believe me about my symptoms and totally validated my eye tracking issues and how much it was affecting my dizzy/balance.

In conjunction with National Concussion Awareness Day, Dr. Schmoe and his staff will be offering complimentary baseline brain health assessments at his clinic in Minnetonka on Sept. 16th.

You can listen to the show below, please leave us some comment love or ask any questions you may have about my recovery!


Experience Life Magazine | Concussion Feature Story | Amy Zellmer & Dr Jeremy Schmoe

Experience Life magazine ran a full-length feature on concussions in the Sept/Oct issue which is on news stands now! This magazine is produced by Lifetime Fitness and reaches 750,000 paid subscribers plus 2.3 membership subscriptions delivered to their mailboxes every other month!

Read the PDF online HERE. 

I was asked back in January if I would be willing to share my story with their circulation of almost 3 million print readers, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to help create more awareness around the topic that is near and dear to my heart (and head)!

The spread turned out absolutely amazing, and you can read the full article HERE in PDF form. They did a great job tying my experience in along with how Dr. Jeremy Schmoe from Minnesota Functional Neurology DC helped me in my recovery after 2.5 years of dealing with doctors who were dismissive and just didn’t understand concussion/TBI. We also shared the spread with the greatness of Dr. Bennet Omalu, which is a true honor! As well as a shout-out to LoveYourBrain yoga!

A huge thank you to Michael Dregni for his talented writing skills and the most enjoyable interview at a local coffee shop in Saint Paul.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my story and continue to raise awareness of this invisible injury that affects 2.8 million Americans each year, and is the leading cause of death and disability in the World. The more outlets we have to share our story, the more people we will reach. If even just 10% of the subscribers read this piece — that would truly be some serious advocacy at work!

Thank YOU for being a part of my journey!!

You can listen to my podcast here: www.blogtalkradio.com/facesoftbi
Read my Huff Post articles here: www.huffingtonpost.com/author/amy-zellmer-634
Purchase my book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2g7Zi5s

Living in a Funk | Depression & Apathy After Brain Injury |

Depression and apathy are symptoms of brain injury, and all too often overlooked and dismissed by the medical community.

Before my brain injury, I don’t recall suffering from depression or anxiety or sleeplessness. Except for the occasional butterflies in my stomach before a big presentation, or not being able to sleep the night before a big trip that I was excited about.


For the past two weeks I was in a deep, dark funk. I cried at the silliest things, I felt emotions swell up to the surface, and I had zero tolerance for others. I kept myself locked away in my house, not wanting to inflict my funk on anyone else. I avoided self-care and hygiene as it consumed too much energy and apathy kept me paralyzed in place with a lack of motivation to get things done.

Casual acquaintances tell me “oh that sounds like PMS” or “you must be peri-menopausal” or “it’s just the moon cycle, I get like that too”.

This drives me absolutely crazy!!!

I know ME better than anyone, and I can tell you that I have never experienced this prior to my brain injury. It’s an all-too-common side-affect from hitting my head — scrambling the motherboard so to speak.

I haven’t felt this dark since the first year after my accident. The first year was filled with more days in a funk than not, but has since leveled off. So this particular episode of funk caught me off guard. I would start feeling better after a few, and then slip back down into the hole of despair.

If you’ve never experienced it, it’s super complicated and hard to comprehend.

People assume one should be able to just “get yourself out of it” and shake it off, but it’s truly not that easy. I am a positive person and know the exact steps one ‘should’ take to bring yourself out of a funk, yet when I am in one it’s SO freaking hard to do. Apathy (a neurologic problem that causes one to lack motivation) gets the best of me in times like these.

I’m pretty sure I know what tipped it off … I had traveled to Washington DC to lobby for healthcare, followed by another trip to Columbus, OH for the Concussion Health Summit in which I spoke for 3 hours the first day, plus talked with a lot of other attendees and vendors.

I pushed myself too hard, and my body shut itself down to conserve energy.

In the early days after my injury, I wouldn’t shower for days. You have no idea how much energy taking a shower and getting dressed takes, until you have limited supplies of it. It was such a daunting task … and I would NOT say that this was depression — this was simply a lack of energy issue.

And that is exactly where I think medical professionals get it all wrong.

They write us off as depressed when in fact we are just exhausted or overstimulated. They don’t understand that apathy is vastly different from depression. They try to put us on anti-depressants which alter the chemicals in our brains — which are trying to heal at that exact moment. Now, I am not saying meds are bad as some people truly need them. But in my case I knew they weren’t what my body needed, and I knew they would hinder my recovery.

Now, I am three years out and for the most part I have more good days than bad. I am feeling pretty good, even though I still need to nap and have had to learn how to pace myself. However, when I have pushed myself, my body, and my brain too far the funk returns.

I’ll say this again because it bears repeating, the funk “depression” is a symptom of my brain injury. It doesn’t mean I have mental health problems or that i’m unstable. It doesn’t warrant medications that will make me feel worse. It requires rest, self love, compassion, and maybe a box of chocolate (or two).

When you notice a friend or loved one with a brain injury start to pull away and become disengaged, this is a sign that they’re in a funk.

DON’T tell them to “get over it” or that they’re being lazy. What they need is support and acceptance. Instead, give them a big hug and tell them how much you care about them. Ask how you can help, or better yet, jump in and help (laundry, cleaning, making meals, etc). When we are in a funk these tasks become way to much for us, and then they build up over time making it that much more daunting.

Listen to my recent podcast on apathy
Read more of my work on Huff Post



TBI Life Coaching | Mini Packages

I have received several requests from all of you asking whether or not you can purchase just one or two Coaching sessions with me instead of committing to three months. I have created a mini coaching session just for you! Purchase one or two sessions to use over the next several months.

I know how challenging it can be to get back to a “new normal” way of life, but I also believe in the power of positivity and gratitude. I know that sometimes we just need someone to hold or hand or offer us a shoulder to lean on….. and we need lots of encouragement and praise! ….. and that’s what I am here to offer you! 

We can talk about a variety of things, including: coping with deficits (memory, etc), interacting with new friends, finding support groups, getting back to work, and so much more. If you’re a caregiver, we can talk about things like what to expect as they continue to heal, how YOU can cope and keep yourself health, etc. Additionally, if you’re trying to write your book/blog I can help keep you on track and walk you through the processes.

The only catch is that you have to promise to make an effort to stay positive and grateful. Of course you can vent, as long as you make it a priority to get rid of the negative thinking 🙂

How it works:
we will meet via Skype/Facetime (or phone if you don’t have any video options) for 30 minutes. (I set a timer to keep us on track!)

You will receive a “Welcome Packet” when you register, which will help me familiarize myself with who you are and what you want to achieve from our coaching sessions.

You will receive email support in between our sessions. You can feel free to write me with questions, or share successes or challenges.

These sessions are completely private. Just you and me (or caregiver/survivor/me….. depending on your situation). I may use your story as an example with other clients, however, I will NEVER use your name without permission. No one will know we’re working together, unless YOU tell them, or allow me to share!

We will celebrate victories together! Every small victory is worth a celebration.
We will discuss challenges and areas where you’re stuck on what to do next.

This is NOT therapy…. this is life coaching. If I feel you may also need to see a therapist, I will tell you (honestly, everyone needs a great therapist! I love mine!!)

“I really enjoyed my coaching sessions with Amy. She is easy to talk with and understands the struggles I deal with as a TBI survivor. Amy helped me determine and set realistic goals and stay focused on my priorities.” ~ Mary, Los Angeles

What it costs:
$35 for a single session
$60 for two sessions
$99 for three sessions

I know not everyone can afford to this, and I completely understand. If you’re in a situation where you REALLY want to work with me, but can only afford a certain amount, PLEASE let me know — we might be able to work out a special arrangement with shorter sessions etc. Don’t hesitate to ask for pricing accommodations, but do realize that Coaching is what I do for a living, and that my time is precious. I ask that you respect my decision if I am not able to offer you an arrangement.

If you would like to “Sponsor a Survivor” who can not afford Coaching, please let me know!

I have been a Coach since 2008; and Coaching TBI survivors and caregivers since 2015.

You can register by using the Paypal button below. Once I receive your registration, I will send you email with the Welcome Packet, as well as some potential day/times to set up our sessions.

Choose your sessions

A Brief Recap of my Healthcare Advocacy Trip to Washington DC | #SaveMedicaid | #ProtectOurCare

I just returned from a week-long roadtrip to Washington DC where I joined up with a large group of my fellow Brain Injury Association of America comrades to lobby for our healthcare!  I was able to reunite with friends I know from brain injury awareness day, as well as make new friends — including some professional lobbyists!

It was an incredible experience, and I am so thankful for the support I received from Motion Intelligence to help make this trip possible!

On my way out to DC I spent the night outside Columbus, OH … and found out the day before that Senator Bernie Sanders would be  hosting a #ProtectOurCare rally in Columbus in the morning. I was able to attend the rally on Sunday before arriving in DC … and it was definitely a very cool experience!

Tuesday was our big (and long) day in DC. We spent the entire day at the Senate building meeting with our Senator’s staff and attended a Congressional Briefing. Included in the panel were Senator Tammy Duckworth from IL who is a wounded warrior, a former college football player for Rutgers who was paralyzed in a tackle, and a Boston Marathon bombing survivor who lost her leg above the knee.

After the briefing, I handed out copies of my Huffington Post article on Healthcare to the 18 critical Senators who were most likely to give the bill a NO vote.

The night before our big day in DC, I was invited to speak at the MoveOn.org demonstration on the front lawn of the Capitol on Tuesday night. WOW … what an experience that was! Not only to be a part of history, but on the front lawn with the gorgeous Capitol in the background! You can watch the short video below … I a still floating on Cloud 9 from that experience!

On Wednesday we went back to the Capitol where we had lunch with my truly awesome Senator, Al Franken. We followed that up by delivering my article to our House Representatives. We went back and promptly took a big ol’ nap afterwards!!

On Thursday I headed out bright and early to a meeting at Penn School of Medicine in Philadelphia,PA where I met with two of the awesome coordinators from the Mind Your Brain conference, to be held on March 23, 2018 with Kevin Pearce as their Keynote speaker. I was also invited to be a part of the conference and am completely thrilled and honored to be a part of this amazing event which is completely FREE for survivors and caregivers — so put it on your calendar if you’re in the area!!

I returned home on Sunday evening after a brief visit with my college roommate in Chicago. I took Monday and Tuesday to rest up and am now gearing up to write a bunch of articles for Huffington Post, and am also lining up some amazing guests for my podcast series! I can’t wait to share them with you!

Additionally — if you are in the Columbus, OH area the Concussion Health Conference is being held on July 28th & 29th I will be presenting and would love to meet you!! 

My Podcast Series Has Been Named One of the Top 100 Rising Popular #Podcasts

Well this was certainly exciting news to wake up to! My “Faces of TBI Podcast Series” has been named one of the top 100 rising popular podcasts on the airwaves in a Huffington Post article by The Mary Simms Public Relations, #PRinfluencers . You can read the full article, and see all of the podcasts named HERE.

I take a lot of pride in my podcast series, and am thrilled to have Minnesota Functional Neurology as my main sponsor.

My guests range from brain injury survivors, caregivers, healthcare providers, and authors. It has been receiving over 1,000 unique listens each and every month, and that number continues to grow as more people become aware of it! You can catch all of the episodes on Blog Talk Radio.

I began podcasting in about 2010 when I began Coaching other photographers and creative entrepreneurs  (you can still access those podcasts HERE).  The episodes were business related and I always had a blast doing them.

After my brain injury and wild success of my Huffington Post articles, I thought a podcast would be a natural addition. As I know many survivors who have trouble reading, I thought a podcast would be a benefit for many, and something they can listen to anytime, anywhere. I keep them to 30 minutes or less, as I know how the attention span of a TBIer works.

I have been doing my current podcast just over a year, and have 29 episodes recorded. I am always looking for amazing guests, and if you are interested in being considered, you may reach out to me through email or the contact form of my website.

Peace & Glitter and Yorkie kisses!!

An Online Brain Health Summit for Those Affected by Concussion & Brain Injury


Myself and Dr. Jeremy Schmoe from Minnesota Functional Neurology saw a growing need in the brain injury community for more awareness and education about alternative healthcare methods and modalities for those who are still suffering from the lingering effect of brain injury.


The week of June 5-9th the summit will provide you with over 20 of the most renowned specialists in the brain injury community, including doctors, caregivers, survivors, and other clinicians who are experienced in successfully treating brain injury.


The lineup includes: David A. Grant, Jennifer Tavernier, Sachin Patel, Doug Schmidt, Dr. Ryan Cedermark, Richard Frieder, Dr. Jill Schultz, Dr. Michael Lewis, Judy Chase, Dr. Mike T. Nelson, Dan Sexton, Kyla Pearce, Dr. Allie Wagener, Jamie & Braden Benz, Dr. Deborah Zelinksy, Dr. Sam Yanuck, Dr. David Traster, Dr. David George, Cristabelle Braden, Cavin Balaster, and Dr. Nathan Keiser.


Topics include: – Optimizing Brain Health and Performance – Nutrition and Diet – Exercise and Rehabilitation – Patient Advocacy – Teen Athlete Sports Advocacy – Positive Mindset and Attitude How They Affect Your Nervous System and Healing – The Eye Brain Connection – Vestibular Rehabilitation – Understanding Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD -Chiropractic Functional Neurology  -Neuro Immunology -Brain Inflammation and How It Inhibits Healing – Brain – Gut Interaction – Omega 3 and Fatty Acids Protocols – Cognitive Rehabilitation – A Mother’s Perspective Of Her Elite Snowboarder Son’s Accident and Recovery – Cervical Spine and Headache Pain – Living Chronic Pain


The 2017 Brain Health Online Summit is ideal for: Brain Injury Survivors, Caregivers, Loved Ones, Co-Workers, Healthcare Providers, and anyone interested in their overall Brain Health Function.

And best of all — it is completely FREE!


If you’re not able to attend all of the dates, no worries! Recordings will be available for purchase with a portion of all proceeds benefiting the Brain Injury Association of America.


For further information and to register: www.thebrainhealthonlinesummit.com


Fake It Till You Make It | Life With a TBI | Weather and TBI

You know the saying “Fake it till you make it”? Well, that’s how I fell when I have important meetings and interviews amidst a headache.

We’ve had some crazy spring weather here in Saint Paul, 70 one day then 40 and rainy the next.

And THAT, my friends, is what is a called a barometric pressure DROP. It wreaks havoc on my neck and head.

When my neck gets tight it shoots up through my head causing headaches and eye problems, it also flares up my speech timing problems and slows down my cognitive processing speed. It’s so frustrating, because I can technically “function” through it, but man will I crash afterwards.

I had two important interviews yesterday as well as a coaching client. I put on makeup and nice clothes and went about my day like normal people do. I probably blended in quite well. And if you don’t really know me, you wouldn’t necessarily notice the slight droop on my left side, my crazy “concussion” eyes, and the timing in my voice. But I notice it. and I know it’s still there. Heck, I feel it and live it, right?!

That’s the frustrating part of having an invisible injury. No one knows that you’re actually struggling just to get through the hour long conversation that you’re required to do. No one knows that you’re head is throbbing and you want to cry. No one knows that you’re going to go home and crawl into bed in a dark room and sleep for 3 hours before getting up for an hour and then going back to bed for the night. No one knows because on the outside we seem fine. 

The photo in this post is one that I took yesterday during my headachy day. On the left it shows how well I am at smiling and faking it. On the right is me feeling like my head is going to explode – yet I look relatively normal. Only someone who knows would even notice the face droop or the eyes.

Speaking of eyes … I learned some really great stuff at the Minnesota Brain Injury Conference last week, and created a short video to share with you some of my notes. I think you’ll really enjoy them. Watch here: https://www.facebook.com/amyzellmer/videos/10154307126031300/


Unmasking Brain Injury Project | #DisabilityMatters | Rally in the Rotunda at the MN State Capitol

Today I participated in the #DisabilityMatters Rally at the Minnesota State Capitol.

As part of the week-long “Disability Awareness Week” and the kick-off to “Brain Injury Awareness Month” (March) the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance is hanging their “Unmasking Brain Injury” project in the North corridor.

I was asked by KSTP TV if I would talk about my mask and what it represents to me. You can see the full article on their site HERE.

The entire Unmasking project — 1,000 masks in total — will be on display on April 1, 2017 from 3-7pm at the Earle Browne Heritage Center.

Watch my 10 seconds of fame in the video below!