Local organization supporting brain injury survivors

WATERBURY, Vermont (WCAX) – A local organization wants brain injury survivors to know it’s there and ready to help.

The Brain Injury Association of Vermont, or BIAVT, is the only group in the state solely dedicated to providing advocacy, education, prevention, and resources to all Vermonters affected by brain injury. This includes both survivors and caregivers.

The group focuses on referrals for patients, their families, and medical providers, and it just released a referral form on its website. BIAVT also organizes monthly peer-to-peer, carer and youth support groups.

Manager Jess Leal says her team receives hundreds of phone calls, social media posts and emails each month. She says connection and a sense of community are essential for survivors, as the disease becomes chronic and is very isolating.

“It’s an invisible wound so it can be very difficult for people to understand what a survivor is going through and what they’re going through because on the outside they look ‘normal’, they have the ‘look good. There’s no cast, there’s no crutches,” Leal said. “And we always say to our survivors and their family members, ‘Never give up hope, never lose hope. never hope.'”

Brain damage can be caused in a variety of ways, such as blunt force, stroke, overdose, and tumors, to name a few.

The association hopes to launch a resource facilitation program this summer. It will offer case management assistance to people who are not clinically or financially eligible for state services under the Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), for example.

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