Liz Rooney grew up in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin hunting, fishing, climbing trees and doing back flips. Although she battled an unusual amount of sickness as a child, she was determined not to let it stop her from being an honor student and competing at a high level in gymnastics and track and field. However, as she got older, the intermittent symptoms she experienced in her childhood, developed into a debilitating neurological disorder. By the time she was 25, Liz was extremely ill and no longer able to function in her daily life. She had always been a driven individual and enjoyed working in her budding career as a fashion designer, but all that was taken from her as her world came crashing down. Fueled only by her faith in God and the amazing support of her husband, she started on a search for answers. Liz went from doctor to doctor, and was diagnosed with many things, but no one could tell her the root cause. Between the exhaustion of fighting through sickness and the guilt of her medical bills piling up, she found herself fully relying on God for the strength to just keep living. Years later she was finally led to a specialist who did some specific testing and told her that she had a traumatic brain injury.
Upon receiving that diagnosis, Liz put together a timeline of her life events and medical records, and it all made sense to Liz and her doctors. She had suffered multiple brain injuries over the course of her life that compounded on top of each other and were causing her to be very ill. They had been hidden due to a lack of awareness, her own memory loss, and the fact that the first one happened before she could even remember.
As a tiny 16 month old, Liz fell nearly a full story when she slipped through the railing at the top of a staircase. She had multiple concussions from numerous sporting injuries, including a time she was pole vaulting and her pole broke sending her head first into the box area where you plant the pole. She, like many athletes, overlooked the effects of her falls, until she saw the changes they had made in her health and cognition while going back through old records. Liz also had an unknown hypoxic brain injury from a near death choking experience in grade school where she went completely unconscious until someone resuscitated her and saved her life. She had also been in over 7 different motor vehicle accidents by the time she was 25, only one of which she caused. One happened when she was walking and was struck by a car that flipped her up into the air and when she came down, her head and shoulder smashed through the windshield. When the car fully stopped, she was thrown from the windshield onto the pavement. Another involved her crashing into the sidewall of a highway at about 65mph. She was also hit by a drunk driver that ran a red light going about 60 mph in 2010. That same year, her lifelong health challenges became too much to bare.
After a long dark journey through the valley, Liz is thankful to finally be climbing the mountain of rehabilitation. Though still experiencing the breakthroughs and setbacks of the journey, she knows that it is time for her to share her story to help others who may be facing a similar battle. Modern neuroscience research has proven that the brain has a miraculous ability to heal through neuroplasticity, and Liz believes that today’s “brain warriors” can be the pioneers who pave the path of recovery for others in the future. She is determined to reach her full healing potential and has devoted her life to helping others do the same. Liz and her husband, Brendan, currently reside in Chesapeake Virginia. She is the founder of Hope Unfading, an online resource for those affected by brain trauma and neuro challenges of any kind. Hope unfading provides applied research, guidance, and inspiration to support brain warriors on their journey of healing, giving them hope for a better tomorrow.