February 1 marked the 14th annual Brain Injury Awareness Day in Virginia. Hosted by neurologist and State Delegate John O’Bannon, this day allows those affected by and/or advocating for brain injury to discuss their concerns and wants with their state legislators. This year, the discussion specifically focused on the state government’s cuts (but not elimination) of funding for rehabilitation for brain injured individuals. Because of this concern, “after meeting with legislators, dozens of survivors, advocates and caretakers of people with brain injuries held a rally Wednesday to call for improvements in services for disabled Virginians.” What the government may not understand though, is that it takes rehabilitation, sometimes lengthy rehabilitation, to regain functionality following a brain injury, meaning that adequate state funding is necessary. Increased functionality means increased employment, increased tax collections and less reliance on government-funded support and services.
In the article, Anne McDonnell, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Virginia, is quoted as saying, “It is a rare privilege to watch a brain come back online.” This statement implies that brain injury survivors are primarily non-functioning individuals. This is highly offensive and simply not true.
Additionally, the article quotes a survivor who is involved with the Association, as saying, “Forty-two … I think I’m 42.” By choosing to publish this quote, the author of this article is making light of a symptom of this survivor’s disability. Additionally, I believe that this person, as with many brain injury survivors, has a general disbelief of his memory because he had so many memory problems immediately following his injury. No one remembers everything.