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Working With Brain Injuries

In 2004, Jason Crigler, an established guitarist living and working in New York City, suffered a brain hemorrhage during a concert in Manhattan. The doctors' prognosis was dire: If he survives, he'll be a vegetable.

Jason's pregnant wife and the rest of his family refused to accept that prognosis. Wary of clinging to false hope, they made a commitment: They would do whatever it took to help Jason make a full recovery.

Life. Support. Music. documents just what that commitment would mean. In training footage shot by the hospital staff, home videos and interviews, we watch as Jason gradually breaks through his vegetative state. Below are some actions that people might do to work with members of their communities who have brain injuries.

At the end of the film, we see Jason speaking about his experience to kids who have had brain injuries. Find ways to facilitate similar connections in your community. Identify people who have recovered from brain injuries or disease and their family members who might make good speakers and connect them with speaking invitations from local schools and organizations.

Investigate the availability in your community of medical and support services for people with brain injuries. Work with local medical professionals, social service agencies and volunteer groups to fill any gaps.

Hold a fundraiser for an organization or agency that provides aid to people with brain injuries or that supports research on the prevention and treatment of brain injurie.

Monica says that Jason's recovery doesn't mean that the family's job is over and the next chapter will be "dedicated to helping the next families." If you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury or disease, brainstorm ways that you could help "the next family" and make a plan to put at least one of your ideas into action.

Facilitate family meetings to arrange for health care proxies and discuss how care would be provided in the event that a family member could no longer care for himself or herself.

Train medical professionals who deal with brain-injured patients about how best to work with families, including how they might teach family members to provide effective help to the patient.

Examine community support structures for people in need of care and recruit volunteer advocates and care givers to provide services to patients who do not have family available.