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Nonprofit provides help for those with brain injuries

Nonprofit provides help for those with brain injuries

Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia

Moneta resident Scott Stacy (right) is helped by Matt Siekierka with Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia after he suffered a tramatic brain injury several years ago.

Moneta resident Scott Stacy is learning to live with a traumatic brain injury he suffered several years ago. With the help of Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia, he is beginning to find his new normal.

Stacy is from Illinois. Four years ago, he came to the defense of a waitress he said was being harassed by another patron. When he left the bar hours later, he was jumped from behind by a man and another individual.

“The guy picked me up from the waist and just bashed my head on the concrete,” Stacy said. “Everything went black.”

Stacy said he was kicked in the head several times; knocking out his eye. He was in a coma for more than a month, and doctors told his mother they did not know if he would walk or talk after he woke.

Stacy has been fighting ever since he woke up from the coma — fighting to regain what he lost that night. It has been a long road that has taken him to North Carolina, where his children live, and then to Moneta about 18 months ago at the suggestion of his sister, who also suggested he contact BISSWVA.

“Before Brain Injury Services, I was just a normal sick person going to the doctor, and they couldn’t figure me out,” Stacy said.

Stacy exhibited the effects of traumatic brain injury, but until he received help from BISSWVA, he and his family did not know why he was acting differently.

“A lot of my friends and family say why do you sleep so much,” Stacy said. “It is my brain injury, when I’m sleeping my brain is resting, and it needs the rest to rebuild.”

Sleep issues are one of the indicators of traumatic brain injury. Stacy also has trouble recalling words, another symptom, as is loss of concentration.

“If I read something I don’t collect it right off,” Stacy said. “Before the brain injury, I could read it and remember it. Now I have to read it three times to figure out what I read the first time. It just doesn’t click.”

Stacy is one of nearly 400,000 Virginians living with a disability as a result of a brain injury or stroke, said Mae Johnson, development and marketing director of BISSWVA, which helps brain injury survivors live as independently as possible.

“We primarily provide two services,” Johnson said. “Case management, which is coordinated care for someone, who has survived brain injury. Often people find it difficult to do the things they did prior to the brain injury, and that’s where case management can really help someone get back on their feet. We also help them tap into other resources in their community.”

These resources could mean helping a client get a ramp or creating a safer bathroom. BISSWVA also offers programs such as Community Living Connection.

“We started providing a version of CLiC specifically for caregivers of brain injury survivors,” Johnson said. “CLiC is our online tele-health program that really serves as an online support group where a small group of brain injury survivors or in the case of CLiC Care, caregivers, will meet a couple of times a week.”

These small groups help brain injury survivors with socialization skills and provide a place where they, and their caregivers through CLiC Care, can talk with people who are facing similar issues. There also are classes in adaptive yoga, creative writing and soon music therapy, all provided on the internet with computers loaned to clients by BISSWVA if needed.

Johnson said research has shown if someone has had one brain injury, such as a concussion, that person is three times more likely to have another. The sooner a person gets attention, the better an outcome will be.

BISSWVA serves Smith Mountain Lake and surrounding counties and is a service that Stacy said he needed in Illinois and North Carolina but was fortunate to have found once he moved to Moneta.

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