Our Illinois brain injury lawyers were intrigued this week to read about a new “virtual” brain injury support group that is leveraging technology to help those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. It is a unique and helpful way to aid those from whom certain services may not otherwise be available. Considering that so much uncertainty exists in brain injury treatments, all of these new approaches should be continued and encouraged as much as possible.
The Roanoke Times published a story on one virtual support group. This particular group was development in order to improve the lives of a group of brain injury victims who leave in rural regions of the state. Support groups are common for many people who have experienced a wide range unique life circumstances and events. The personal communication and connection with others who are going through similar experiences has long been known to be helpful. Things are no different for brain injury victims, but it may even be more important than for most groups. Brain injury victims need mental “exercise” to help keep their minds healing. Support groups provide on additional way to help in those exercises.
However, depending on where one lives, it is often impossible for many to reach a physical location where other brain injury victims meet. In many rural settings these victims often have no access to transportation, live in poverty, and may be physically unable to travel long distances. In these situations many victims lose the ability to socialize, developing a sense of isolation. These situations would be tough for anyone, let alone those whose lives have already been turned on their head following a traumatic brain injury.
That is where the virtual support group comes in.
This latest program is still in its infancy, but it is an important example of what the future may look like for these support options. Loneliness is a real problem for these individuals which may be addressed. The program, known as “Community Living Connection,” is just finishing its second test run. It involves volunteer participants to have weekly virtual therapy sessions, via using of video and microphone computer technology. Fifteen participants were involved in the first ten-week test, and twenty six were involved in the second. The group is led by a moderator who works to coax discussion while also helping patients engage in exercises to retrain their brains. Program participants have given rave reviews the service and explain that is opens up a new world of which they would otherwise be left out.
Experts explain has the virtual service is just one part of a massive new industry known as “telehealth.” In the past most telehealth advances have been used for chronic care disease management and education. This involves the monitoring of patients’ vital signs and providing other observations from afar while the patient is at home. Those involved in the industry have been quick to praise the use of virtual brain injury support groups. One noted, “I think it is an awesome, innovative idea. You know, your greatest barrier to telehealth is your lack of imagination.”
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