Exercise your brain, it’s a muscle!  How Ruth Curran brings brain health awareness to the Howell Foundation.

Exercise your brain, it’s a muscle! How Ruth Curran brings brain health awareness to the Howell Foundation.

Actually, no, it is not (good try mom!).   Even though the complexities of how the brain functions have not been fully discovered, exercising it should be part of our daily routine for good brain health. Just ask author, speaker and recent addition to the Howell Board of Directors, Ruth Curran, MS.

When I heard of all the incredible work Ruth has done throughout her career, the first thing that came to mind was “Brainiac.”  No, not the supervillain, superman-hating enemy in the comic books, more like an exceptionally -intelligent- woman kind of brainiac.

Ruth, a Master in Science, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2004 in a car accident. With a very particular perspective on life, she focused on the restoration of her cognitive capabilities by studying, writing and developing methods to improve her brain.

Ruth Curran, Howell Foundation Board of Directors, Brain Health ExpertOn this path to recovery and becoming herself again — and with much frustration in between– she became very interested in the connection between the brain and her daily activities.  She started designing a series of games and puzzles as part of her healing process, brilliantly called Cranium Crunches.  She is the author of the book, Being Brain Healthy where she presents the “B’s” of brain health:  “Be self-aware, Be active, Be social, Be engaged, Be purposeful, Be complicated (thank you!) … Be powerful” (1).  She co-authored An Insider’s Guide to the Injured Brain with Mary Lanzavecchia, a workbook for survivors and those who support them.

According to the CDC, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths. Commonly called concussions, the effects of suffering one can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).  These issues not only affect individuals but can have lasting effects on families and communities. (2)

“We all, at one time in our lives, will face a change in brain function whether is part of an injury, disease, stroke, aging, trauma, stress, or exhaustion. Building a deeper understanding by seeing challenges through a different lens makes us more compassionate with others and ourselves.”  Ruth has a master’s degree in counseling psychology and joins the Doris A. Howell Foundation with 28 years of experience as a strategist, business development executive, and organizational behaviorist in the for-profit, not-for-profit, and governmental sectors.

She has shared many life experiences from her volunteer services, traveling around to literally help the world.  You can read her “Travel with a Purpose” blog and quickly realize that living a meaningful life to her will always include the improving the lives of others, not only improve her brain.  Ruth fell in love with Global Volunteers’ mission and vision five years ago as a volunteer on a service program to St. Lucia.  She went on to serve in Tanzania on the Reaching Children’s Potential Project and she is now the Director of Partnerships and Development for the organization. “Volunteering fueled my passion and that passion fueled me on my journey to where I am today.”

Ruth is a speaker specializing in the area of healthy brains and aging.  Utilizing the games she developed, her presentations teach audiences how to use the power of music, food, and laughter to lead a brain-healthy life.

“Funding science that supports women’s health hits so many of my personal core values. Serving on the Howell Foundation Board helps me live another huge piece of my life long passion for scientific research and women’s empowerment.” Her journey to brain health has been an inspiration to many, with a very valuable lesson: Life’s unexpected changes can lead you to a wonderful new path of discovery.

Welcome to the Board Ruth! We are certainly looking forward to our exciting path together!


The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research has been dedicated to keeping the women we love healthy by making a long-term, positive impact on women’s health.  It is the premier organization advancing women’s health. The organization does so by:

  •  Awarding undergraduate research scholarships and graduate nursing research grants to scientists researching issues affecting women’s health;
  • Presenting the latest medical research findings at our events and through our Speaker Service program, where experts and researchers convey timely timely information on topics relevant to women’s health and the health of their families,
  • Funding research initiatives geared towards improving the health of under-served women and increase awareness and advocacy in the community; bringing women’s health research to a full cycle.                                                                                                                                                                                                          ###

Summary prepared by Carolyn Northrup and revised by Ruth Curran, MS. with information provided by the following sources:

(1) http://www.rollingmulliganpublishing.com/the-path.html

(2) https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html

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