A local non-profit is using Brain Injury Awareness Month in P.E.I. to draw attention to the work it's been doing for years to spread awareness and provide support for people with such injuries.
"We want people to understand that having a brain injury is a real thing. It's an injury that is invisible," says Simon Micklethwaite, president of the Brain Injury Association of P.E.I., as June arrives and the month of awareness begins.
Micklethwaite suffered a traumatic brain injury when an improvised explosive device exploded near him while he was serving in Afghanistan.
"There's still a whole host of people who actually either don't realize they have a brain injury or they do and they don't know where to go to [get help]."
Wendi Plets, another board member, said the group will be holding a number of events to recognize Brain Injury Awareness Month, including a barbecue and a visit to a petting zoo.
Education and awareness
One part of the Brain Injury Association's mission is education. Every year In P.E.I., about 500 people suffer from brain injuries.
"If we talk about this more and we get people to understand what the signs and symptoms of brain injury are and how we could prevent them, it'd be great," said Micklethwaite.
Plets, a stroke survivor, said there's a number of ways people can sustain a brain injury.
"It could be from a motor vehicle accident. There's people who have brain injuries from fights, just regular everyday accidents like a fall, hit[ting] their head, [or] concussions from sports," said Plets.
'We are there to help'
Micklethwaite said the association is limited in the resources it can provide to survivors of brain injuries. Its main service is a support group in Charlottetown that meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month.
Plets said about eight to 10 people show up for support group meetings, but she hopes that number will grow.
"We know there's tons of people across the Island that could use our services," she said, adding that the association is willing to hold meetings in other areas of the Island if there is a need.
If there was housing for people with disabilities, [that] would be a big bonus. - Wendi Plets
The association is also looking for local government to provide more services to people with brain injuries.
"If there was housing for people with disabilities, [that] would be a big bonus," said Plets.
Micklethwaite ultimately hopes Brain Injury Awareness Month will help spread the word about the association to more Islanders.
"What we want to do is to have people understand that we're out there," said Micklethwaite. "We are there to help people who have brain injuries."
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