October 21, 2003
Study shows families of TBI patients benefit from support groups
By Lisa Uzzle Gates
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Dr. Risa Nakase-Thompson recently participated in a study that proved what she knew on an anecdotal level all along—no matter how difficult your situation, it helps to be surrounded by people going through the same thing.
Thompson, a neuropsychologist at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, recently collaborated with researchers from the Institute of Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, Texas and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. to measure the value of support groups for family members of persons with traumatic brain injury.
Information from that study will be used to enhance support group meetings at Methodist for survivors of traumatic brain injury and their caregivers.
The next meeting is Thursday, Oct. 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the fifth floor conference room of the hospital on Woodrow Wilson Drive. Meetings are held the fourth Thursday of each month. During months that include holidays around that date, meetings will be held a week earlier.
“Families in the study were so thankful to have the opportunity to come together and share their experiences. It was helpful to them to know there were others going through similar situations,” Thompson said.
She said leading the study group was enlightening for her as a practitioner. Many of the participants were dealing with injuries that were years old and this allowed her to learn about things they continue to struggle with. For example, she said, many of the family members experienced high levels of stress and depression and didn’t realize it.
“They considered it normal to feel and live that way. It’s one thing to have a doctor tell you, but when another support group member in a similar situation tells you ‘I’ve been where you are and you need help,’ that can make a big difference,” Thompson said. “Support groups such as the one offered by Methodist can help bring people back into the system and help them find resources that are out there. In the end, we hope this enhances the quality of life for both patient and family members.”
Kris Roberts, social worker for the brain injury program at Methodist, said the meetings are open to anyone. “We are very happy to be offering this empowering information and support to our patients and their families. Participants do not have to be a patient or former patient of Methodist to participate,” Roberts said.
Linda Schutt, a neuropsychology fellow at Methodist, will be the speaker on Thursday. She will discuss dealing with traumatic brain injury.
Other meetings include:
Nov 13 - 5:30 p.m.—Leola Myers from the Mississippi Disability Medical Relations Unit will discuss the process to qualify for medical disability status.
Dec. 18 - 5:30 p.m.—Thompson will discuss how to deal with the stress of the holidays and participants will have a Christmas party.
For more information, contact Roberts at 601-364-3342.
For more information:
TStudy: Support groups aid families of the brain injured | The Clarion-Ledger