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Nov. 16, 2021

Creating the BEST Life for Veterans & Civilians with Michelle Ranae Wild

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College professor and CEO of BEST (Brain Education Strategies and Technologies), Michelle Ranae Wild, recently spoke at VANC’s Monday Meeting about her special education program at Coastline Community College and her nonprofit. Through her school, she teaches numerous adults in Coastline Community College’s Acquired Brain Injury Program, and through her nonprofit, she helps countless individuals who suffer from cognitive challenges. Not only does BEST offer webinars and workshops for individuals who have a brain injury, PTSD, ADHD, or autism, the nonprofit also provides the BEST Suite, which has various apps that are designed to help people regain their functional capabilities.

Michelle’s impact is far-reaching, as her programs have been implemented in schools, rehabilitation facilities, and VA hospitals across the country. In this episode ofVANC’s SoCal Military News and Viewspodcast, Michelle shares exciting news about the expansion of her program at Coastline Community College, how she started BEST, and how the apps on the BEST Suite help others.

Being the BEST: The BEST Suite

Michelle Ranae Wild love teaching and serving others. She has a degree in psychology and has taught Coastline Community College’s Acquired Brain Injury Program—the nation’s first program that has been designed specifically for brain injuries—for the past 30 years. Through this program, she teaches cognitive retraining to military personnel and civilians with brain injuries. This course has recently expanded to be a national program, so people from all over the U.S. can participate, regardless of their geographic location.

In fact, this incredible program is what led to the creation of BEST. Five years ago, brain injury survivor Kristi Kragthorpe went through Michelle’s course, and the two women joined forces to form BEST in order to provide these same resources to even more people. 

The nonprofit is very active in the veteran community. Indeed, Michelle and Kristi’s very first project together was geared toward veterans. They received funding from the Infinite Hero Foundation, which allowed them to do a research project with 50 veterans in five different states. During the project, they taught these veterans how to incorporate the tools in the BEST Suite into their everyday lives. 

Now, Michelle and Kristi have not only expanded the Suite, they are now offering online cognitive workshops and webinars to supplement the applications.

Oftentimes with brain injuries or PTSD, one’s organizational skills and time management are affected. The BEST Suite provides tools so that people can easily implement a structure into their day.

The BEST Suiteis comprised of five apps:PaceMyDay,ReachMyGoals,StrategizeMyLife,CompleteMyToDos, andCueMyList.

  • PaceMyDay provides a platform for people to evaluate their energy and manage their fatigue. This helps users pace themselves and mitigate frustration, anger, and mood changes.
  • ReachMyGoals assists people in creating and managing goals by breaking those goals down into manageable tasks.
  • StrategizeMyLife allows users to document the strategies they use each day as they cope, create, and charge ahead. Oftentimes, the strategies people incorporate before a brain injury do not work afterwards. By documenting these strategies through this app, people can rate the effectiveness of the strategies they are using, so they know if they should continue implementing the strategy or adopt a new one.
  • CompleteMyToDos is a specialized task management program for those who have brain injuries or PTSD. This app has a highly accessible interface and allows users to easily organize and manage items in a To Do List.
  • CueMyList is a checklist app that can be used for a variety of purposes. Because it can be easy to be so hyper-focused on one task that people do not move forward with their daily routine, this app is incredibly helpful as it alerts users to move to the next task.

The BEST Suite also offers a dashboard where medical and educational professionals can see the information that is being entered into each app, so they can better help their patients. Certainly, one of the goals of the BEST Suite is to forge connections among those struggling with cognitive challenges and those who love and care for them. Not only are the apps recommended by medical professionals, Michelle and Kristi have also made connections with brain injury support groups across the country. Kristi has helped create free, online classes so users can learn how to use the apps in the suite, whether it’s on their own or in a group setting.

Most recently, they worked on a project that trained veterans to use the BEST Suite, so these veterans could teach others who had PTSD or a brain injury how to use the apps, as well. In the future, they are hoping to expand their webinar series and also build out the dashboard in the BEST Suite, so that medical professionals can receive more detailed reports. In addition to this, they want to improve the dashboard within the Kid’s Mode of the Suite so teachers can refer to it in their IEP (individualized education program) meetings.

Certainly, the BEST Suite is not just for people who have a brain injury, PTSD, ADHD, or autism; it can be helpful for anyone—children, teens, and adults—who needs more structure in their lives.

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Did you like what you heard? This show is produced by Imagine Podcasting dba Heard Not Seen Media, Inc. For more, visit Imagine Podcasting