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October 8, 2010 / Mark Kerrigan

TBI Survivors Are NOT Alone


One of the most common thoughts of survivors of traumatic brain injury is that they are alone in their recovery. That no one else has experienced what they are going through; what they constantly have to battle if they are to be successful.

However, this is not the case. Having lived with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) for more than 21 years, I had a difficult time getting through school and college with support from only my family and whatever particular rehabilitation program I was in at the time. There are so many resources out there that are available to persons with disability, and no matter how much you deny it, a brain injury is most certainly a disability!

The Brain Injury Association of Tennessee (BIAT) can is located in Nashville and the staff there is a wealth of information for the brain injury survivor. From helping to give survivors the support (in the form of encouragement) to get out of the house on a more regular basis to mnemonic (pronounced, “nəˈmänik”) devices for remembering people’s names, etc.

I have just become involved with BIAT and in addition to getting information about get-togethers and picnics where I can connect to other TBI survivors, I’m challenged to channel my energy into things that will benefit me personally. I’m participating in a weekly workshop where I’m learning to make mental maps of where I want to go in life.

Imagine, for example, you’re going from New York City to Los Angeles. You’d take use a map, right? When someone sustains a TBI (which happens every 19 seconds), it seems as though his or her plans are put on hold or changed for the rest of the survivor’s life. Mental mapping is figuring out where in life you want to go and what steps you need to get there. It is nothing more than making a plan and taking action to ensure follow-through.

Many TBI survivors and their families feel as though they are alone, and that there is no one person or organization in place that can help them deal with the sudden drastic changes which have taken place. My recommendation? Contact a neuro-rehab or hospital about where to find support groups. Make yourself and your injured family member attend at least one meeting. When you step through that door, you will learn there are dozens of programs in your city which can help you deal with your new lease on life.

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