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Today, I Truly Learned About Brain Injury

Posted June 12, 2016

Melissa Wright, one of our graduate interns, my daughter, Marin, and I represented Ridge Zeller Therapy today at the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona’s (BIAAZ) Brain Injury Awareness Month BBQ & Expo at the Disability Empowerment Center in Phoenix. 

What an amazing and inspirational experience!

If you’ve never heard of BIAAZ, which I hadn’t until a few months ago, it’s a state-wide, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals with brain injuries and their families and friends, along with actively working to prevent brain injuries; they’ve been around since 1983. 

Did you know that every 23 seconds, someone in the United States sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? Well, neither did I. 

Here’s another fact: Males between the ages of 14-24 are at the greatest risk of having a brain injury. 

And, people who already have a TBI are very likely to sustain yet another brain injury. Sobering information, isn’t it?   

One more thing I found very interesting: Every time someone gets a moving traffic violation in Arizona, part of the ticket fine goes to funding BIAAZ. So, if you’ve had any tickets lately, at least part of your fine is going toward a good cause. Please drive carefully!

Our primary goal for today was to share information about communication problems associated with brain injury and to talk about Ridge Zeller Therapy and our role in helping individuals with a brain injury.  

We definitely achieved our goal, to be sure, but we came away with so much more than we gave. It was definitely a humbling experience.

We met many, many people today who have sustained brain injuries, and several of them shared their inspirational stories. 

One young man called himself a “walking, talking miracle”. He said that he was walking down the street and was hit by a car that was going 70 miles an hour. He said he was in a coma for several days and was in the hospital for a total of 90 days. He really was a walking, talking miracle. 

We met the parents of an adult child who is soon to be released from the hospital after a severe motorcycle accident. The uncertainty of what happens to your child after an accident like this must be agonizing. I can’t imagine how hard that must be, because, after all, you never stop being a parent, no matter how old your child.

Another woman we spoke with helps families plan for their disabled loved-ones care after their family caregiver has died. She has a child with a disability, herself, and she said knowing that there is a plan for her child once she has passed away gives her great comfort. Not something the average person has to think about. 

We also had a lot of fun talking with a couple young men who visited us several times throughout the day, mostly to get candy, but they also stocked up on pens, sticky notes, and squishy stress balls; and I also think they enjoyed chatting. “You again?” I said, when they came by for the umpteenth time.  All of us laughed, and the guys smiled and got another couple pieces of candy.  It was so fun! 

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the dedicated staff of BIAAZ we met; what an amazing team of professionals.

As I sit here tonight reflecting on my day, I realize how truly blessed I am to have healthy children, and blessed because I haven’t had to walk a mile in the shoes of these inspirational people.  

I also feel very blessed to work in one of the many professions dedicated to helping people with disabilities, one of which is brain injury. 

To learn more about brain injury, living with brain injury, and its prevention, please visit the BIAAZ’s website www.biaaz.org and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s website - http://www.asha.org

BIAAZ also has lots of volunteer opportunities; it’s always a good time to get involved!

Remember, wear you helmets!

Take care,

JoAnn


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