Nobody plans to have a brain injury. Having a spinal cord injury isn’t on anyone’s bucket list either. Most people don’t generally know much about either one unless it happens to them or to someone they love, and it takes a long time, perhaps the rest of their life, to heal. Survivors’ families didn’t plan for it either and yet, everybody in the family is affected in one way or another. After therapy and insurance run out, the need for information, resources and HOPE are huge, and that’s where support groups fill a gap and can become a valuable part of life for survivors, their family members and caregivers.
After the injury, survivors and family members are hungry for information from anyone willing to provide it, and support group members are eager to share their experience in hopes of helping someone else. Group members, both survivors and their families, say that the most valuable benefit of the group is finding a place where you feel comfortable to talk with people who have “been there” and who truly understand the issues. Many brain injury survivors look okay on the outside but are not okay on the inside. That’s why it’s called “the invisible injury.” Looking “normal” brings expectations from others that you can act, think and be like everybody else, when in reality, the survivor may struggle on a daily basis with simple daily tasks or carrying on a conversation. Group members share their strategies to make things easier and celebrate milestones. In addition to being a forum to share and listen, the group also participates in recreational activities, attends the BIA of MS annual events and has a good time.
In March, COVID-19 changed our lives tremendously and made it necessary to find new ways to live life in order to stay healthy. Grocery shopping, going to school and “eating out” will probably never be the same. Social distancing has educated us on things such as online shopping, Facetime and virtual meetings.
The BIA of MS quickly transformed our traditional support groups into “virtual” support groups in order to keep our brain and spinal cord injury family safe and healthy. To prevent isolation, depression and strengthen communication, we increased our meetings from monthly to weekly “virtual” meetings and provide a conference call afterward. The group has gotten a kick out of seeing each other on the screen and learning that we can “be there” even when we can’t be there. Telehealth is a reality now for us and will continue in different ways even after the pandemic.
If you are interested in attending or know someone who could benefit from our support groups, please contact us at (601) 981-1021, through our social media sites, or our website - msbraininjury.org.
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