Building a new tool to support young brain injury survivorsFebruary 1, 2012 by Axiom News
Internet leveraged for peer support across B.C.
The BC Centre for Ability’s Community Brain Injury Program is looking to leverage the power of the Internet and the proliferation of social media-style networking to connect the youth it serves across the province.
One of the goals of the secure site, which is still in early stages as a concept, is to connect young brain injury survivors who have been through the program in the last five years with each other, says Clinical Team Leader Josh Myers.
“After a brain injury, research shows that a lot of times kids and adults lose a lot of their important social connections, so to reconnect people with their peers over a common area is important,” Josh says.
He says the second goal is to create a database of best practices for how survivors manage their recovery, so recently injured youth can learn from the experiences of others.
“We hear a lot from teenagers who are at the beginning of their brain injury journey that as much as it’s helpful to talk to ‘experts,’ it’s more helpful to talk to a kid who’s their age who’s been down that road,” Josh says.
He says supports for older teenagers are somewhat minimal “so we’re trying to not only bridge the gap in that age group but to also help propel them into adulthood, with all the unique challenges that come from that transition.”
The vision for this moderated networking site is one of kids across Ontario connecting with one another no matter where they live, and those in more remote locales stand to benefit greatly, Josh says.
While injured youth often connect with peers in a rehabilitation setting, the real challenges come when they return home and try to reconnect with the life they had pre-injury.
“The isolation doesn’t necessarily occur in hospital,” Josh says. “The isolation occurs when you go home to your original environment and all of the sudden Johnny, who was your friend since you were six, doesn’t call any more, or your brother or sister doesn’t treat you the same as they used to.”
There are certainly challenges ahead as Josh and his team push to see this platform become a reality — hopefully by year’s end. Ensuring the site is secure and confidential is a huge priority, he says.
Once it’s complete, however, there will be one more tool in the Centre’s arsenal to support youth as they recapture their lives after an acquired brain injury.
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