The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle will host a new support group for individuals in the community who have suffered from a brain injury.

The group will meet on the first and third Thursday of each month at 9:00 a.m. in the TAMC conference center.  The kick off meeting for the group takes place on March 22 at 9:00 a.m. One meeting each month will be topical or educational in nature, and it may feature guest speakers such as physical, occupational or speech therapists from TAMC.  The second meeting of the month will be project-based and offer the chance for participants to experiment in the arts.

Leading the effort to get this group started in central Aroostook is Suzanne Morneault and her daughter, Mindy.  Mindy suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was a senior in college, injured during a soccer game.  After her injury she began suffering pseudoseizures which have drastically changed her life.  It was this personal experience that prompted her mother to start a support group for caregivers in Fort Kent.  Her efforts with this support group, which began in January, led to interest in starting something in central Aroostook.

"People with brain injuries from the Presque Isle area began reaching out to me, asking if I could help them,” Morneault explained.  “Presque Isle is also a center for a lot of areas medically, so it seemed like a good place to start a support group.”

With March being Brain Injury Awareness Month, it also seemed like an apt time to get the support group started.  While the Valley support group is geared toward caregivers, the new support group in Presque Isle will be focused on the individuals themselves who are suffering from a brain injury.

When Morneault approached rehabilitation staff at TAMC to find out if there was an interest in partnering in this effort, the group was quick to get on board.

“For years we have identified this as a need for our community.  With our work on the inpatient acute rehab unit and the outpatient therapies arena, we knew these patients and caregivers were out there,” said Heather Caron, manager of rehabilitation services.  “We have so many success stories and inspirational patients, and it is important to share their stories with others that may be earlier on in their recovery to give them hope and support.”

The support group is intended for those with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), which includes traumatic brain injuries, strokes, brain illness or any kind of brain injury acquired after birth.  It does not include degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease.

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