“Our voice starts here,” Teresa Morros, chairwoman for the Brain Injury Alliance of Nevada statewide walk, told those gathered Saturday at the Governor’s Mansion before their “Walk for Thought” event.Participants, both brain injured and their supporters, took a two-mile stroll through the historic neighborhood as a kick-off event for Brain Injury Awareness Month.It was the second annual walk for the Brain Injury Alliance of Nevada and the first walk in Carson City.The organization seeks to raise awareness of the many variations of acquired brain injury and traumatic brain injuries, prevention of such injuries, and to support each other as they continue their own walks through life made difficult by brain injuries.Nora McGinley, the chairwoman for the Carson City group known as the Travelers Support Group of BIAN, was forced into retirement from the Nevada State Department of Parole and Probation due to acquired brain injury.Soon after she turned 50 in 2006, she developed normal pressure hydrocephalus, a type of “water on the brain,” that required a stunt. A brain hemorrhage followed. The stunt was tied off but was later found to have been leaking for a year.In the aftermath, McGinley deals with cognitive and memory disorders.“For me, it’s a blessing to be the facilitator of this group,” she said. “I do it for me, but not just for me. It’s to be doing something for people and families with traumatic brain injuries.”Josh Morros, 21, is using his own experience with traumatic brain injury to encourage others to never give up. Now a public speaker, he remembers when he had to relearn how to talk.In 2008, Morros was a 16-year-old professional off-road motorcycle racer doing what he loved. While racing in Wendover, he hit a rock and flew out of control. Unconscious for 24 days, he woke up to new challenges.“It was tough,” he said. “I didn’t know how to walk or talk. I had to restart school. At 16, that’s pretty frustrating.”Early in recovery “my short term memory was really really bad,” Morros said. “I could meet a cute girl and talk to her awhile. Five minutes later, I would not even know her.”Morros now uses his earlier success as a professional racer and his own struggles as a platform to “spread the message of determination and resilience,” he says in a brochure about his experiences.Traumatic brain injuries sometimes begin with poor choices.Kyle Buck was speeding down Deer Run Road three years ago when his car ran off the road. The then 25-year-old had to be cut out of the vehicle. He spent three months in a coma, followed by a year and half of rehabilitation, including relearning how to talk.“It’s been a long journey,” Buck said. “When I go back to Renown (where he was transported after the accident) they’re very surprised how well I’m doing.”Daily life continues to be a challenge mentally and physically. Buck currently volunteers at FISH and is hoping to start working in a paid position. He said he appreciates the mutual support at the BIAN meetings.“We’re dealing with daily living life. It’s good to get support,” he said.Many find support at BIAN to cope with family members with brain injuries.Donna Simpson’s daughter was diagnosed with a TBI more than 50 years after injuries sustained during a traumatic birth and delivery.When her daughter was growing up, “I didn’t understand why she behaved the way she did and why she didn’t protect herself. She could do some things well and others not,” Simpson said, noting that her daughter did fairly well in school. “We tended to think she would get better (as she grew up).”Instead, she made many bad choices and got into a series of abusive relationships.“A few years ago, it got so bad her life was in danger.”After a nightmare of paperwork, Simpson became her daughter’s legal guardian.Several years ago, a doctor at a free clinic in Carson City recognized the signs of brain injury and ordered an MRI. It showed damage from her traumatic birth, and that she had three mini-strokes, called TIAs, in early adulthood.Today, Simpson’s 57-year-old daughter volunteers at the senior center, but needs help with basic life skills such as paying rent and shopping.Participating in the Brain Injury Alliance helps Simpson get through caring for her daughter.“We share a common struggle,” she said. “Everybody’s different. All brain injuries are different.”If You Go:WHAT: Meetings of the Brain Injury Alliance of Nevada Travelers Support GroupWHEN: 6-7 p.m. on the second Monday of every monthWHERE: The Ron Wood Resource Center, 2621 Northgate Lane, Room 51 (back of building)RSVP: Call Nora McGinley at 775-230-2993, or email firstname.lastname@example.orgWEB: www.bianv.org
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