How Brain Injury Survivors and Caregivers Have Adapted To Change
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Acquired Brain Disorder (ABD) Coordinator Sam Martin held a monthly Brain Injury Caregiver Support Group at the Community Crossroads office. Since last November, she and former employee Terri Cadorette have held these meetings through Zoom.
Sam said the level of support she has given in the past year has increased because she understands how difficult it has been for everyone. She said she reaches out more than she used to.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and this year’s campaign from the Brain Injury Association of America is #MoreThanMyBrainInjury. According to the Brain Injury Association’s website, “many people with disabilities have their life defined for them…this campaign gives individuals a chance to overcome those definitions, allowing them to tell their own story and change the narrative of their lives.” While there are currently over 5.3 million children and adults in America with a permanent brain injury-related disability and that is a major part of their lives, it is important to consider that each of them is much more than just someone who had a brain injury.
For the brain injury survivors who attended the meeting, participating in hobbies such as creating their own bracelets and earrings, volunteering at church, playing board games, reading, enjoying the animals on their farm, and binge-watching TV shows have helped them cope since their injury. Activities such as these have helped them become distracted from negative thoughts and helped to change the narrative of their life since their injury.
Meeting attendees agreed that it has been difficult to not be out in the community with family and friends in the past year due to the pandemic. However, many are finding positives throughout all of this. Support groups being held through Zoom have made it easier to attend them. While the barrier of transportation was once an issue in getting to in-person meetings, people can now attend as many support groups as they choose and from the comfort of their own home. Sam added, “for some, Zoom meetings are helpful because there are less distractions from the person sitting next to you, noise throughout the room, and overhead lights.”
Sam said a useful resource is Krempels Center, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people living with a brain injury. Prior to COVID, brain injury survivors would meet in-person and participate in cooking classes, dance lessons, a road race, and conversations about one’s brain injury. Sessions are also held in smaller groups so that brain injury survivors can share how they are feeling in a more private and trusting environment. Meetings are now held virtually. You can learn more here, https://www.krempelscenter.org/.
Mike regularly attends support groups and cited Community Crossroads and the Concord Brain Injury Support Group as helpful resources during this time. He said that he “doesn’t like the isolation” and the fact that he isn’t working but he sees both organizations as resources he can go to for questions or concerns.
For more resources in our state relating to brain injuries, visit the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire’s resource directory here, https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/73501c8c-d97a-4233-9179-2f30b7c98191/downloads/72005-BIA-web.pdf?ver=1612811847059.