“Brain Crumbs” Documentary Explores Life with Traumatic Brain Injury

Corey Beattie, with mom Marie, at work in the kitchen at GoBabyGo! Cafe! at UD

Long before she was a superstar in the GoBabyGo! Café on at the University of Delaware, Corey Beattie nearly lost her life in a car crash. She survived the accident, but the crash left her with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Back in 2011 just after the crash, even the most simple of tasks was arduous and strenuous. Like others who suffer a severe brain injury, Corey was left with several physical infirmities, and her mobility was greatly diminished. Her journey to where she is today – and all that she is now able to do – has been a long one. 

“When one thing ends, it’s frightening because you’re never sure what’s next,” said Corey’s mother Marie. “With TBI, there are a lot of uncertainties.” One of their biggest concerns is Corey’s risk of falling.

Over the course of five years, Jonathan Ristaino of FarmCat Media followed Corey and her family to create the documentary Brain Crumbs. The film gives a rare, inside look into the difficult recovery process for traumatic brain injury survivors and the effect on caregivers.

A special screening of Brain Crumbs will air Sat, Apr 22 at 6:30pm at Penn Cinema Riverfront

On Saturday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m., FarmCat Media and the University of Delaware will co-host a private screening of Brain Crumbs at Penn Cinema Riverfront.

Visit the “Brain Crumbs” Eventbrite page to receive an invite.

Immediately following the film, UD’s Cole Galloway (founder of the GoBabyGo! program) and co-principal investigator Devina Kumar will take part in a question-and-answer session with the audience. Galloway, a physical therapy professor, is most famous for his brainchild GoBabyGo, a hands-on program that helps kids and adults with serious mobility challenges.

“I will be in the front row with popcorn and Milk Duds! It will be a special night of celebration and reflection,” Galloway said. “For our team, it’s a time to pause to laugh and cry, and remember our mission. Then get back at it!”

Despite the tragedy and ongoing, uphill battle, Corey and her family continue to summon the collective strength in order to move forward.

Mom Marie is at times reflective, but has assumed Corey’s care as her full time job and strives for improvement. “The doctors told me this was a long road. I had no idea what that meant,” she said.

Corey and her mom before the Oct 2010 car accident

Corey had long dreamed of becoming a chef. To facilitate that goal, her mother devised ‘cooking therapy,’ which allows Corey to use cuisine in her recovery process. Corey took a giant step toward fulfilling her dream when the family discovered the GoBabyGo! Café, which gives adults with limited mobility the opportunity to rehabilitate body and mind in a real-life work setting.

Galloway believes that freedom of movement allows for freedom of thought. Thus, the Café is equipped with a unique harness system that allows survivors like Corey to gain mobility and move freely without the fear of falling.

“It’s a simple mechanical system, providing fall support. You can’t fall in it, and it also provides body weight support, which means it lifts you up a little bit,” said Galloway. “The fall support enables you to push the boundaries of what you can [physically] do; it would allow you and me to go down a black diamond ski slope.”

This innovative take on therapy, combined with Corey’s love of cooking, was the catalyst she needed. After only three months at UD, her family witnessed great leaps forward in her ability to move, socialize and complete everyday tasks. The project took another huge step forward when a harness system was installed in her home kitchen and bedroom.

To Corey’s mom Marie, it’s what’s happening under the harness is the most important.  The combination of  the GoBabyGo Cafe, Harness House, and the next opportunity — Mobility Village — have given Corey a chance to participate in enriched environments. “Conversing with customers, making sandwiches, and cooking in her home kitchen has not only helped her regain her physical strength but also her confidence and feeling of self-worth as she works towards realizing her culinary dream of becoming a chef,” she said.

Marie is grateful Corey has opportunities that bring her a sense of joy and satisfaction and help on her road to recovery. “She has improved because she is now participating in living her life; she’s no longer an observer of life. The harness mixed with her never give up and never give in attitude have been the key ingredients for her recovery and our healing as a family,” she said.

“I am really excited for the [other] people who need it now,” said Corey.

She wants these groundbreaking developments to help other TBI survivors. Together, Marie and Corey hope the film will showcase their family’s personal healing process in the hopes of impacting other families.

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About the Contributor

Dante LaPenta

Dante LaPenta

Dante LaPenta is a communications specialist with the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences and adjunct professor of advertising/integrated marketing at UD.