A new brain injury survivor support group has formed and will be meeting 3-4:30 p.m.,on the first Thursday of each month, beginning Sept. 4 at Riverside Doctors’ Hospital.
The group will be facilitated by Sara Lewis, a brain injury survivor, who has been trained by the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. Lewis is also a speech-language pathologist and is provisionally certified as a Brain Injury Specialist by the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists. Lisa Kavitz, also a brain injury survivor, will be the group coordinator.
The time seems right to start meeting locally. “I feel brave enough to do it on my own up here,” Lewis said recently. “There are four people who go to Newport News from Williamsburg, and one, Lisa Kavitz, has agreed to help me start this. I am excited about starting the Williamsburg group.”
Lewis will plan various meeting topics pertinent to those who have sustained brain injuries due to trauma, stroke or other neurological incidents.
The meetings can be helpful by providing time to discuss topics running the gamut from family communications and helpful strategies for coping with memory loss to dealing with fatigue and asking for help.
Lewis will line up guest speakers that can include neurologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, attorneys, music therapists and authors.
“This is a survivors group,” she emphasized. “Most people begin to understand they may have communication difficulties after the acute part of the injury has passed. If they had broken bones, or something that needed to be fixed in the hospital, they did that. But brain injury is something you live with for the rest of your life. It is a chronic condition and you have to be your own best advocate. The brain is an organ and you have to learn how to care for it and have strategies to make it work better.”
Those who have been attending the Newport News group have forged close bonds, she said. “People who attend a support group say that no one understands a brain injury unless you have one. Having a broken brain is hard for people to deal with, so the support group is really necessary.
Brain injury can come from accidents, falls, domestic violence, gunshot, or strokes, she said. People with the injuries can benefit from the group.
“A lot of people with brain injury don’t understand it,” she said. “I lived for 25 years with a brain injury I didn’t understand. I knew I had hit my head in the car accident, but I didn’t know how it affected my life.”
More information? Call Lewis at 757 784-0344 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Kavitz at 757 784-0952 or e-mailing email@example.com.