Jean Stinson

Helping elementary students understand brain injuries

Picking up a coin with a thick pair of gloves is really difficult. Looking through a pair of glasses with lens partially covered by masking tape is quite the challenge.

Picking up a coin with a thick pair of gloves is really difficult.

Looking through a pair of glasses with lens partially covered by masking tape is quite the challenge.

Those are just some of the activities that Central Alberta Brain Injury Society want elementary school students to try so they can understand the problems that people with brain injuries may face.

CABIS is looking to set up its interactive displays, collectively called the Brain Walk, at schools in Central Alberta to teach students about the different parts of the brain and how injuries impact both cognitive and physical abilities.

“Brain injuries are a sticky topic. It’s one of those things you don’t want to deal with until it happens to you because it’s so traumatic. You don’t want to think about it,” said Robb Holbrook, vice-president of CABIS, on Thursday.

But children need to know the consequences of brain injuries and what they can do to prevent them, like wearing a helmet while riding a bike, he said.

“This is not a stubbed toe or a broken finger. This is a brain injury,” Holbrook said.

Jean Stinson, president of CABIS, said according to American statistics, one in 500 children a year suffer a head injury severe enough to require hospitalization.

Sports and playground injuries are the major causes of brain injuries for children, and traumatic brain injuries forever alters lives, she said.

“Whatever you did before, you can’t do anymore. Everything is taken away,” Stinson said.

“We hear the life-changing stories. It’s horrible.”

Jeff Booth, 39, of Red Deer, suffered brain injury, due to a vehicle collision, when he was 20.

Booth, who speaks slowly and can be difficult to understand, said people usually don’t ask him questions about his injuries.

“They don’t know what to ask,” Booth said.

He said people don’t understand what it’s like to live life with a brain injury.

“They have no clue,” Booth said.

Holbrook said brain injuries affect people in different ways and many must try and pick up the pieces of their lives alone.

“They are ostracized by friends, by family. They just turn around and run almost.”

And those left behind can’t figure out why, he said.

“They feel so abandoned.”

That’s where CABIS tries to help by operating the survivor support group Club CABIS, a peer support group, and caregiver support meetings.

The CABIS office, located at 202-4805 48th St., is open from Monday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“It’s not over yet. We’re on your side. We’re on your team,” Holbrook said.

CABIS is currently looking for more people to join its board of directors.

For more information on CABIS programs, including the Brain Walk, call CABIS at 403-341-3463.

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