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Massachusetts joins rest of country to stress brain injury awareness

March 13, 2013 |

GREATER SPRINGFIELD – March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. A brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone. Statistics show that 1.7 million people sustain a brain injury each year. An injury that happens in an instant can bring a lifetime of physical, cognitive and behavior challenges and early, equal and adequate access to care will greatly increase overall quality of life. On May 18, 2011 the lives of Stephen and Nancy Power were changed forever when Nancy suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. It was a work related accident which took place when a 3,000-pound stone fell on and sent her to Baystate Medical Center. Nancy sustained multiple facial fractures, some internal bruising and a broken left ankle. She spent several weeks in ICU. Once the fractures were repaired and she was placed in stable condition it was on to several months of Inpatient rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. During those long two months Nancy had to relearn everything we take for granted because she lost the use of her right eye and partial hearing in her right ear. She worked daily with Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapist to be able to re-establish a normal life style. Now that she could take care of herself with minimal assistance she was discharged to an Outpatient rehabilitation program at Healthsouth in Ludlow. Here Nancy continued to display her determination to regain old skills and to deal with new difficulties. The medical staffs at each of these facilities were very supportive in assisting Nancy to reach the goals that she had set for herself. Today, some 20 months after the accident Nancy is still traveling to Worcester and Boston for follow-up doctor visits. She has also returned to her hobby of quilting again. It is a slower process but she is learning how to enjoy one of her favorite pastimes. Although some days can be challenging Nancy is very thankful that she never lost her ability to speak and is now able to live on her own, drive and has made progress in her rehabilitation. As a Brain Injury Survivor Nancy lost everything she knew in the blink of an eye and awoke to another person who had to relearn and get to know the new person that she awoke to. Massachusetts joins a nationwide network of state brain injury organizations affiliated with the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), including self-advocates, families and volunteers across the nation to mark Brain Injury Awareness Month this March. "Brain Injury Awareness Month honors the millions of people with brain injury, who with proper acute care, therapeutic rehabilitation and adequate long-term supports, are living with the successes and challenges that each day brings," Susan H. Connors, president/CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America, said. "Our goals this year are to continue to sustain and bolster brain injury programs, increase access to care and preserve vital brain injury research." Dr. Brent Masel, national medical director for the Brain Injury Association of America, said "Since anyone can sustain a brain injury at any time, it is important for everyone to have access to comprehensive rehabilitation and ongoing disease management. Doing so eases medical complications, permanent disability, family dysfunction, job loss, homelessness, impoverishment, medical indigence, suicide and involvement with the criminal or juvenile justice system. Access to early, comprehensive treatment for brain injury also alleviates the burden of long term care that is transferred to tax payers at the federal, state and local levels." The organization's mission is to be the voice of brain injury. Through advocacy, education and research, we bring help, hope and healing to millions of individuals living with brain injury, their families and the professionals who serve them. Quilts and Treasures, 56 Shaker Road, East Longmeadow, will host "With Tea There is Hope" on March 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This fundraiser is to help promote Brain Injury Awareness month. Planned activities include a "Teacup" auction, how to make a "Teacup" pin cushion, a make and take embroidery "Teacup" design, learn how to "Tea Dye" fabric and directions for making a "Tea cup" block for next years raffle quilt. A Light Tea will be served. Proceeds will be donated to help support individuals who are living with a brain injury. For more information about the event, call 525-4789 or 525-6647.

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