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Special conference helps patients during Brain Injury Awareness Month

(KATV Photo)

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. Whether the victim is an adult or child, traumatic brain injuries can have a major impact on the patient and their families. Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people in the U.S. sustain a traumatic brain injury, and doctors say it can happen to anyone.

Dr. Renee Magiera-Planey specializes in neuropsychology. She says, "They can happen from falling. They can happen for any reason, but it's also important for people to know there is help out there."

Many patients got that help at this year's Brain Injury Survivors' Day Conference, where they offered presentations on how to deal with relationship issues after brain injury, how to deal with memory loss and even had a pet therapy session.

Dr. Magiera-Planey says, "We're learning as we go, and the more information that we get, the better service we can provide to the families in Arkansas."

Keith Handcock, 21, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2015. He was in a serious car accident where his vehicle went airborne and clipped a tree. He survived, but his life was forever altered.

Handcock explains, "I had to re-learn how to walk, talk, use the bathroom, control my temper. Basically everything." Handcock has made a remarkable recovery, but it hasn't been easy. The care and recovery of brain injury survivors doesn't stop after hospitalization.

Dr. Magiera-Planey adds, "People become more interactive with the community, people try to resume different types of activities, but they still might be having a little bit of difficulty. Sometimes they're having some depression. Sometimes they're having some anxiety...what should we do?"

Handcock is looking forward in life with such hope. He has a dream of becoming a motivational speaker to help other TBI patients and wants to let them know that anything is possible. He says, "What I went through.. it was tragic, but I want to show people that just because you fall down in life, you can get back up. I wanna show people that."

Click here for more information about brain injuries and the Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute.

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