BRAIN HEALTH | 5.8.2017 | BY JESSICA PETRONGOLO, M.S., CCC/SLP, CBIS
“My social group has helped me to get out more and make new friends.” Branden, Brain injury survivor
Social support following brain injury has been linked to positive outcomes, for both individuals with TBI and caregivers. Support groups provide a safe place for members to share experiences, receive education and connect with others who “get it.”
Given the diverse needs of individuals with brain injury, the traditional support group format may not be the right fit for everyone. In many cases, a “social” group may be a great alternative - this format offers all of the resources of a support group, but places the emphasis on social connections and shared activity! These social networks can help build community, foster relationships and strengthen social skills - areas often affected by brain injury.
Activities can include:
- Holiday parties and seasonal activities
- Bowling, sporting events and outdoor experiences
- Expressive art activities that inspire self-reflection and creativity
- Holistic health experiences that promote mindful choices and healthy lifestyle
- Team participation in local brain injury awareness events (such as a 5k race)
So, when thinking of how best to select or shape your support group, consider focusing on social engagement! Facilitation of shared experiences can have incredibly positive impacts on everyone in the group by reducing isolation, building meaningful relationships, improving mood and supporting healthy healing journeys.
Jessica is a Speech Language Pathologist who works at an acute rehabilitation hospital and has participated in the LoveYourBrain + Zeno Mountain Farm Retreat. She started a social group for young adults with brain injury in 2015, and offers social events and activities for this group about once per month. She is contributing this tip in honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month.