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posted: 3/28/2013 11:32 AM

Pioneer Center offers support for brain injuries

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Submitted by Pioneer Center for Human Services

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and this year Pioneer Center for Human Services is working to increase awareness about traumatic brain injuries. Did you know that 1.7 million people sustain TBI every year, and 3.1 million people live with lifelong disabilities because of TBI?

TBI is caused by a violent blow or bump to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. The severity of a TBI ranges from "mild" to "severe." Motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and falls are the most common causes.

Anyone can be affected by a TBI at any time and you should seek medical assistance if you experience any of the following signs and symptoms: loss of consciousness; dizziness or loss of balance; nausea or vomiting; severe headaches; slurred speech; memory loss or impairment; difficulty concentrating or processing information.

Pioneer Center's Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program offers services to more than 50 individuals each year who have survived a TBI. Specialists assess new program participants and create a personalized plan that includes cognitive goals for the individual to focus on. The program includes supports not only for the participant but for family and caregivers as well.

Key services offered by Pioneer Center include:

• Employment services -- identify vocational strengths, find and keep a job;

• Activities of daily life -- money management, nutrition, shopping, meal preparation, transportation, organization skills;

• Skills groups -- weekly peer support groups focusing on learning and using compensatory strategies after a brain injury;

• Headwinds Family Support Group -- a monthly support group for TBI survivors, their family members and caregivers;

• Caregivers Group -- a monthly support group for spouses, parents, and family members who provide care and support to a loved one with a brain injury.

The services provided by the program are funded by the McHenry County Mental Health Board and Medicaid.

To learn more about Pioneer Center and the Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program, call (815) 344-1230 or visit