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Brain Injury Support Group Will Open in Northern Berkshires

Two organizations in Western Massachusetts have joined to create a support group for those suffering from brain injury, hoping to provide a needed service in Northern Berkshire County.

Scott Doane, a case manager with Berkshire Family and Individual Resources, or BFAIR, said that he didn’t see his own need for a support group for those living with acquired or traumatic brain injury, until long after he realized he was affected himself.

Helen Stewart Is an RN and also works an outreach coordinator for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, a group that advocates at the state level for those affected by brain injury, works in the community and schools to educate students and adults, and also oversees more than 30 support groups across the state that helps over 600 individuals across the Commonwealth.

After attending the long-standing Brain Injury Support Group at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Doane said that he realized the value of such meetings.

Doane said that in support groups through his own experience and by work as a case manager for BFAIR he’s been able to share his experiences, which is why his organization and the Brain Injury Association will now hold meetings in the Northern Berkshires.

Suzanne Doswell, Manager for the Western Region chapter of the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, said that her organization is concerned about a lack of state support for those suffering from traumatic and acquired brain injury in need of services, especially now just days before Governor Patrick will release his FY 2014 budget proposal.

According to the BIA, a brain injury occurs every 23 seconds in the US, and that 85% of traumatic brain injuries are preventable. Also, the group says over half of all brain injuries are related to drug and alcohol abuse, and that Massachusetts has a lower rate of seat belt use at 74%, which attributes to head injuries.

The Northern Berkshire Brain Injury Support Group will meet ever 4th Tuesday in from 4 to 6pm, on South Church Street in North Adams.

Those with questions can contact:

BFAIR: 413-664-9382 x22/www.bfair.org

The Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts Western Region: 413-443-0200/www.biama.org

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.