People with first-time brain injuries or those who have lived with a brain injury can often feel isolated, frustrated, or confused about their symptoms. Joining a support group can help survivors of brain injury, including their families, friends, and caregivers, gain valuable knowledge and learn about resources from other attendees. Support groups can also provide a sense of community and identity for survivors who have struggled with their brain injuries.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America(BIA), one of the largest brain injury organizations in the country, about 2.5 million TBIs occur each year. The organization has branches in 50 states that oversee numerous support groups taking place in hospitals and churches and at health organizations. Experts say that these groups are typically facilitated by social workers, medical providers, or TBI survivors themselves.
Survivors with TBI can also help one another to learn what various medical terms mean or to make more-informed decisions about residential care, Social Security disability, or insurance eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid.
Support group facilitators say that caregivers can often experience great emotional and psychological tolls when looking after someone with a brain injury. Families must learn to adjust to having a spouse, sibling, or child who could have a completely different personality than they did before their injury.
Individuals who come to caregiver-specific support groups are able to talk about their concerns about their loved ones or listen and learn from stories that others share.
Many people with chronic TBI feel that they have lost a part of their personality following the injury, experts say.
Kristen Dams-O’Connor, PhD, an associate professor of rehabilitation medicine and neurology and Director of the Brain Injury Research Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, says that being in a support group provides a community and a supportive platform for people with TBIs to test out their new identity.
“There are people who, after a brain injury, think that their life isn’t going to be good again. Support groups allow people to develop their identities, be a part of a community, and see the bright side of those possibilities,” she says.(everydayhealth.com)