I’ve been working for Community Partnerships, Inc. (CPI) for 16 years and am currently the Director of Vocational Services. Currently, I provide full oversight to the Brain Injury Support Services (BISS) program, designed to help individuals who have sustained a brain injury prepare for and return to the workforce.
A couple of years after receiving my Bachelor’s in Social Work, my youngest sister, Beth was going into her senior year in high school. Beth was in the front passenger seat of a friend’s car when a car ran a stop sign. Beth sustained a brain injury and was put into a drug induced coma for 10 days. When taken out of the coma, she had a small blood clot in her brain that needed time to dissolve. Beth, an athlete, was told by her doctors that she could not play sports for 6 months but her prognosis seemed fantastic and she was moved into less intensive care. That night she tried to get out of her hospital bed to go to the bathroom, slid down to the floor, and the blood clot exploded. She was rushed into surgery and remained in a coma for 3 months.
I have seen the entire process one goes through when a brain injury occurs, from inpatient, to outpatient, to searching for additional services. Beth received a variety of residential and rehabilitation services, despite often limited services available for individuals with brain injuries. 3 years post injury, Beth was lucky enough to participate in BISS where she learned strategies to compensate for her memory problems and her impulsivity. She learned how to advocate for herself and to focus on herself as she adjusted to this newly acquired disability.
Her injury and experience inspired my passion to help build a better service delivery system for individuals with brain injuries, leading me to obtain a Master’s in Public Administration. Every day is different and new, and connecting to resources early after brain injury can be essential in getting involved, learning strategies, and advocating for one’s needs. It is vital that professionals be able to help provide that bridge between the individual, family, and provider to ensure individualized and meaningful services.
Carol Collins, MS CBIST
Professional & Family Member