Lived Experience Stories

Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor


WendySue Pincus – LaJolla, CA

July 13th marks a special day for WendySue Pincus, a friend and donor of One Mind, who is a passionate advocate for healthy brains and brain health education. It is the 39th anniversary of the accident she had in Philadelphia as a teen that resulted in her traumatic brain injury and it is the day each year that she chooses to recognize those who have stood by her. This year she is honoring her parents, the late David and Geraldine Pincus, promising to “Pay it Forward” in their name by helping others. Wendy is also thanking the University of California at San Diego who provided the education and the knowledge that she needed to support her recovery that she could not find anywhere else.

Since her traumatic brain injury on July 13th in 1980 that left her with amnesia, WendySue has passionately and proactively worked to accelerate her own recovery. In 1988, she gained the opportunity to attend the University of California at San Diego, studying in the Department of Cognitive Science. That year, as part of a purposeful ‘refresh’ to the new life she was setting out to create, she started to call herself ‘WSPR’ (spoken as ‘whisper’) based on the abbreviations of her name. In 1997, WSPR further advanced her education by enrolling in UCSD’s Department of Advanced Neurosciences, and in 2013, after science proved neurons regenerate, WSPR returned to school to study more. WSPR strongly believes that her education was and is a critical influencer to her recovery.

Her mantra is that “when all else fails, school is the tool”.

She shares “Education is the only way forward. My knowledge and growing awareness is my gift to the traumatic brain injured everywhere. Students learn, and patients follow orders from doctors; doctors who cannot understand your brain injury without your help. Without your help, doctors will guess at the diagnoses and the search will be fruitless. You must try to understand along with your team; define the injury, determine the evidence and decide your next move.”

As part of her continued learning, WSPR attends the Scientific Symposium at our Music Festival for Brain Health when her schedule allows. Most recently, as this video clip shows, WSPR attended the event in 2017, where she shared with everyone at the Scientific Symposium her story and a heartfelt comment to One Mind and the brain health community we support.

WSPR has gained a lot of insights through the nearly 40 years of life she has lived as a traumatic brain injury survivor. She shares “I discovered I could find my answers in the strangest places if I looked at things right. I realized the need to listen to each other’s stories and learn from mistakes made by understanding, exposing and amplifying lessons learned, so that history can persuade change.” At the first TBI meeting she attended in San Diego, she discovered Vision Therapy, the other influencer that has significantly accelerated her recovery. WSPR states, “We must ‘overstand’ the problem and produce answers.”

In addition to advancing her own learning, WSPR wants to actively support those who are facing their own brain health challenges. WSPR is currently working on building a website and online chat room called ‘HeLP’ that she hopes to launch in September of 2019. As a callout for support, the site’s name is also a reference to ‘How Each Little Person’ can help change the world by helping one soul a day and that together initiate a wave of wisdom and a cascade of caring to share. She plans to include and manage a ‘WSPR Lounge’ on the site.

In recognizing that for many years after her traumatic brain injury she had lost her way, WSPR has determined that what she needed was a new identity. Without one, WSPR states that “you have nothing, want nothing, stand for nothing and cannot find a course of action.” To advance her own identity and aid those who may be going through a similar situation, WSPR is working to complete her own Identity Book that is a scripted account of her inescapable predicament arising from her brain injury. In the book, she plans to share the tools and strategies she learned at UCSD that helped her develop the compensatory behaviors that allowed her to reinstate her reasons to actively advance her life. She states, “I must share my reasons why, so I can begin making my own dreams come true.”

If all goes well, WSPR plans to attend One Mind’s Music Festival for Brain Health again. We hope she does and we hope you do too! If so, please introduce yourself to WSPR and thank her for the hope that she instills.

“Gratitude is all I have to give. Awareness is what I hope to provide. Advocacy must prevail.”