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It's A Gray Area: With our help, the brain-injured can thrive

February 19, 2011|By James P. Gray

One of the true embarrassments of our times is that there is no facility in the western United States where brain-injured adults can live, receive appropriate medical care, engage in meaningful employment, and thrive up to the limits of their abilities. There are some facilities for mentally disabled people, but their needs are almost always quite different than the brain-injured. This situation is not known by many of us, but it is drastically known by people who have brain-injured family members and friends.

A local nonprofit called Brain Rehabilitation And Injury Network (B.R.A.I.N.) is working to create a campus like this for brain-injured adults. To be successful, it will need to range from five to 10 acres in size, have both male and female sleeping quarters, and facilities for food service, recreation, medical services and relaxation. It will also need to have places where these wonderful but often fragile people can engage in productive employment.

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B.R.A.I.N. was founded by Sue and Jerry Rueb and their daughter Jana. The Ruebs have a daughter/sister who sustained a brain injury during a forceps birth delivery more than 30 years ago. So over the years they have tried to find a caring facility that would meet the medical needs of their loved one, and simply concluded with much pain that there were none available.

But creating such a facility is a daunting task. So the Ruebs have organized what they call "Think Tank 2011," which will be a symposium to provide awareness and information to families and caregivers of brain-injured adults, as well as to the community at large.

The symposium will be held from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. March 27 at The Grand in Long Beach.

There will be presentations by Dr. Todd Clements, a psychiatrist and medical director of the Clements Clinic in Plano, Texas, on identifying and treating brain injuries; Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist from UC Davis, on the long-term effects of repeated impacts to the head in American athletics; Debbie Edwards, an experienced family caregiver, on practical care for the brain-injured at home; Dr. Earl Henslin, a psychologist, on brain injuries and relationship health; and Angela Mandas, a speech pathologist, on how computers can help to train our brains at home.

If you would like to attend, please contact B.R.A.I.N. at (714) 625-7225, or visit its website at http://www.thebrainsite.org. This will be a truly worthwhile learning experience.

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