TBI: I think this is the best ‘brain tool’ of all

By John Hatten, TBI Coach & Counselor, Survivor of TBI

Cognitive tools: the next few issues are going to be about tools we can use to help our ability to focus. You will hopefully find that having tools to help your attention and focus will pay off in the long run. These tools work in different ways:

PEAT stands for “Planning and Execution Assistant and Trainer. This is a program that works on an Android phone. PEAT is the only planner that actually plans. You set up the time frames for all the things that you want to do (like eat breakfast for 30 minutes every day from 8-10 a.m., or a doctor’s appt. from 2:00 – 3:00 this Wednesday) and how important that task is; PEAT plans your day for you. If you want to change it (“I have a little time: I’ll wash the dishes now.”), you just “start” the dishes task in PEAT and you do it: PEAT automatically shuffles the other tasks around so you can do them as well (given that you have the time). Or let’s say you have 10:00 and 2:00 one hour doctor appts.; you put “do the laundry” between them because you know you can do the laundry in just a couple of hours. But let’s say your first doctor appt. runs over an hour or two: now you don’t have the time to finish the laundry in time for the second appt. This is the type of problem that people run into all the time; for us folks with TBI it can really mess us up. But not with PEAT; if PEAT sees that there’s not enough time for the laundry to finish, it’ll move the laundry to after the second appt. and will put all the lower priority things you were going to do after the second appt. between the two doctors‘ appts. And you aren’t tied to “the schedule”: if you want to do something ahead of time or if you want

PEAT was designed by a NASA scientist, Rich Levinson, to solve some problems they had with space missions (like with the Lunar Rover and the Mars Explorer): first, they had to figure out a way to have the craft “think” (plan) for when it was so far from home. If it was headed for a crater edge, it had to know to stop, because by the time the it told NASA that it was moving towards a crater and they said “Stop!” (so many millions of miles away), it would be over the edge. So it had to know that when it sees a crater, it shouldn’t keep going over the edge. Second, there are Martian storms that can block out the sun for a long time. The Rover’s batteries weren’t enough to power all the experiments, so it had to be able to choose the experiments that it had or should keep going and postpone all the tasks that weren’t so time-sensitive. When NASA didn’t need this technology so much, he was encouraged to take the technology out to the world. He came to a couple of support groups I was leading (one for TBI and one for MBI [Mild Brain Injury] {which, by the way, is not “mild” at all}. He came in with the ideas he had and then listened to us (how’s that for unusual); he took lots of notes and came back again and again until he had an idea of what we survivors wanted, as well as what we didn’t want; PEAT was born.

Besides the basic planning element in PEAT, there are many other cool things that it does. It has all your contacts and all your notes, so when you need to go to the bank, you can click on an icon and see where the bank is; and if you note some information about that task, you can put that info in the “notes” section. Both your contacts and your notes can be linked to each other and to tasks,  so if you want to connect a name (say of a friend) with a note (what you want to say to that friend) or to other names (friends you see with that person), it’s very easy to do. You can also put in a picture and/or a recording of a contact to help you remember who s/he is.

Because some of us need more help than a cue, PEAT has all sorts of options for all it’s parts, so if you don’t want to be able to reschedule an appointment, it is easy to change this so that, as you improve over time, you can use more and more of what PEAT has to offer.

There’s lots and lots of other features of PEAT that I don’t have the space to go over, check it out (brainaid.com).

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