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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month!

I thought I would first start with sharing a personal story with you.  This is Jim’s story and he shares his experience following his brain injury and how the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts (BIA-MA) has helped support him through his journey and provided him with the help and resources he needed in order to continue to live his best life!

I Feel Accepted Here

11 years after his hemorrhagic stroke, even with all the major accomplishments he’d achieved, Jim Lyman still felt like something was missing.

“Even years after my stroke I was in an unhappy place. I thought I’d be able to go back to work but that just didn’t happen. I felt lonely and had a tough time communicating that, even though I have a good family support system.”

Working for Dow Chemical, Jim was a proven work-aholic, he devoured books, and was a practiced mathematician. But, in April 2006, just 2 weeks before his 40th birthday, Jim was airlifted to UMASS where he spent 19 days in a coma to reduce brain swelling, suffered a second stroke, and then struggled to be awaken from the coma intended to save his life. Doctors weren’t sure he would come out of his coma, but Jim came out fighting and has made amazing strides ever since. 7 weeks of inpatient rehabilitation had him sitting up and walking on his own by the end. He continues to work on his gait, paralysis, and speech and still sees progress thanks to a variety of outpatient therapies.

But, in 2015, he told a therapist that something else needed to change. She suggested a brain injury support group, “just once.” Reluctant at first, Jim obliged her…

“After one day, and just one group, I was hooked,” Jim says of his first Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts experience. “I love my family, but BIA-MA gives me a place to interact with people outside of my family, who know what I’m going through. I feel accepted here.”

 

So, what is the Brain Injury Association of MA and what do they do?

A private, nonprofit organization, BIA-MA provides Support & Resources to brain injury survivors and their families; Prevention Programs to educate the public on the impact of brain injuries; Education & Training for brain injury survivors, caregivers and professionals; and Legislative Advocacy for improved community services and safety laws (seat belts, helmets).

BIA-MA annually provides support, information and resources to approximately 14,000 survivors, families and medical professionals. They sponsor more than 50 support groups throughout the state of MA and the support groups provide a forum for sharing information about brain injury and an opportunity to meet others who share similar experiences and concerns. BIA-MA also organizes a variety of educational, recreational and social activities. BIA-MA knows that every brain injury is different and each person has their own set of needs therefore they take the time to get to know the person and find the appropriate resource/service for them.

Would you like to learn more about the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts?  Attend one of their open houses!

The next Open House will be on Brain Injury Awareness Day:
March 20, 2018
11:00 am – 3:00 pm

There will be food, music and raffle prizes as well as the opportunity to talk with staff about how to get involved with BIA-MA or learn more about brain injury. The Open Houses will be held  at the following three locations;

30 Lyman Street, Suite 10
Westborough, MA 01581
508-475-0032

3119 Cranberry Hwy, Suite 5F
E.Wareham, MA  02538
508-743-0333

180 Elm Street, Suite C
Pittsfield, MA  01201
413-443-0200

BIA-MA has a great and very informative website providing information on different brain injury resources, support groups, educational events, personal stories and so much more. Check them out http://biama.org/

 

Courtney Cassels is an Options Counselor & TBI Specialist at BayPath Elder Services, Inc.
www.baypath.org