June is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and the local chapter of the East Kootenay Brain Injury Association (EKBIA) is attending a conference in the Okanagan to learn more.
“A lot of people think that brain injuries are mental disorders, and they aren’t,” said Debbie Gudjonson, the Columbia Valley outreach worker with EKBIA.
Brain injury can strike at any age, right from shaken baby syndrome, to an accident in youth, and up to a stroke in adulthood. It can affect your memory, mobility, concentration, comprehension, response time, and mood. People with brain injuries can sometimes lose their social skills, and seem like completely different people before and after the injury.
Gudjonson is taking 15 clients from her area to this conference in Kelowna, and has been fundraising with the group all year to be able to go.
“We really appreciate the support. This is huge to go to this conference,” she said.
In the past several years, with her clients getting out into the community more and more, the community support has grown tremendously.
Creating awareness around brain injury is very important for the EKBIA, because the only way to cure a brain injury, is to never have one in the first place.
They have been out in the community as much as possible letting people know about the dangers of these injuries, the importance of helmets, and the effects they have on people’s lives.
“When people see someone walking down the street and start crying, or stumble, they wonder what’s wrong with them. But there’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just something got damaged in the brain. And it can happen to anybody,” said Gudjonson.