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Brain Injury Alliance Resource Facilitation: Serving Those Affected by the Invisible Injury

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 20, 2021

Imperial, Nebr. – Brain injuries are often labeled the “invisible injury.” Often, it is the most extreme physical symptoms such as seizures, weakness, and paralysis that tend to be associated with brain injuries. However, there are far more subtle symptoms that affect individuals who experienced a brain injury. 

Symptoms such as memory and reasoning impairments, social agitation, impulsiveness, and lack of initiative often cause problems with completing daily tasks and maintaining productive employment and relationships. Without proper recognition and help in developing strategies to manage these symptoms, livelihoods, and families are negatively impacted. 

The Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska’s Resource Facilitation program is a free service that assists individuals with a brain injury, families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals by providing resources, education, and support. Resource facilitators serve as points of contact for families and individuals across the state who seek assistance with brain injury. This assistance takes many forms such as making referrals to service providers, developing personalized plans for symptom management or recovery, or providing informational resources and handouts. Additionally, resource facilitators network with community providers and services systems to educate others about the unique needs of people with brain injuries.

Recently, the Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska expanded its Resource Facilitation staff to make it easier for individuals and families across the state to access resources and services. Instead of one full-time Resource Facilitator, there are now five. Two of which are: MenDi McCuiston and Shir Smith, who serve as the primary points of contact for the western half of the state. 

Both McCuiston and Smith have felt the effects of brain injury on a personal level–giving them common ground and a better understanding of the realities faced by the people they serve. 

McCuiston’s daughter suffered a brain injury as the result of a car accident at the age of sixteen. After initial treatment from the accident, McCuiston’s daughter developed symptoms that make it hard to focus in school as well as changes in mood and behavior. As a caregiver herself, McCuiston understands the struggles of a parent or caregiver feeling helpless, hopeless, and abandoned by the “system.”

McCuiston became involved with the Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska when a close family member referred her, sharing how the support they received impacted their life in a positive way. “Having others in my life to help me understand and learn about brain injury has improved my awareness and instilled in me the passion to want to help others,” McCuiston declares. “I want to be a resource for others that are in the position I was in with my daughter during her struggles. We did not receive the support we needed, and I do not want others to go through the same experience.”

As an individual living with a brain injury herself, Smith is intimately familiar with the struggles and obstacles faced by people with brain injuries. 

“[At the time of my injury], there were no resources to help me understand what was happening to me,” Smith shares. It wasn’t until a representative of the Brain Injury Alliance visited Smith’s workplace to share educational information that Smith became aware of what was happening to her–helping Smith find resources to improve her quality of life.

Now, Smith helps connect other individuals with brain injuries to resources and support. Smith says “Brain injury has given me a passion to share with others that there are resources out there to help with unmet needs. With resource facilitation, I am able to share resources with others, find resources that we are not aware of, and I am able to give hope to others.”

In addition to their personal experiences, McCuiston and Smith bring a wide range of professional expertise to the Resource Facilitation program. 

McCuiston has a bachelor’s in behavioral science and has worked as a life coach, a family support worker, and other various positions within the non-profit realm helping individuals to set goals, recover from grief, and find their purpose.

Smith is certified in a wide range of programs and training and brings a wealth of training and knowledge to the team. She has experience working with a Rape and Domestic Abuse Program as an advocate, starting a Wise Minds and an Incarcerated Victim Advocacy Program in the Lincoln County Jail, working with an Anti-Violence program for women, and working as a Sexual Assault Coordinator.

To get in contact with McCuiston and Smith about resource facilitation services and educational opportunities, call or email them using the information below. 

MenDi McCuiston, 402-683-0712, mendi@biane.org

Shir Smith, 402-683-0754, shir@biane.org

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For more information about the Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska and its Resource Facilitation program, contact Peggy Reisher, Executive Director, at peggy@biane.org or 402-890-0606.

 

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