Center To Help Brain Injury Victims In Hawaii
Jill Kuramoto, KITV4 News Reporter
POSTED: 1:50 pm HST February 17, 2012
HONOLULU — Hawaii has between 2,000 and 3,000 brain injuries a year. Because there is no one facility addressing these serious injuries in the islands, many brain injury patients have to go to the mainland for treatment and rehabilitation. But that will change. $165,000 in grant money from the state Department of Health is being used to create the Brain Injury Resource Center in Hawaii. It is a “clubhouse” of sorts, modeled after a center in Marin, California that will provide programs and therapy for those on their tenuous road to recovery. The center will help people like Greg Lee. He was 36 years old when he hit his head while riding his skateboard down Liliha Street. “I was running down the hill; the road was a little bit rough,” said Lee. “And I lost control of my skateboard.” Lee spent two months in a coma. After five long years of rehabilitation, Lee is now ready to go back to school and, hopefully, soon go back to work.
President of the Brain Injury Association of Hawaii, Ian Mattoch, calls Lee’s recovery remarkable. But, Mattoch says many more people need help for what is called the “invisible disability.” “Brain injury draws the least support and the least attention because it’s an invisible injury,” said Mattoch.
The center will provide a daily resource for brain injury patients to go to and by involved in programs. Although the medicine and rehabilitation has greatly improved locally, the Brain Injury Association of Hawaii says there is a long way to go to provide enough resources for local patients. A location for the center is still in the works, but the plan is to have the center up and running by the end of the year.The latest research and updates on brain injuries will be discussed at the Brain Injury Conference being held March 8 and 9th at the Ala Moana Hotel.