Nanaimo Brain Injury Society Creates Peer and Professional Connections

Our Community Kinship blog is a way for DP World Canada to showcase organizations that are helping people in British Columbia and explain how everyone can aid these non-profits in their work. One such organization is the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society.

The Nanaimo Brain Injury Society (NBIS) was founded in 1988 by parents who met through a hospital treating their children’s brain injuries. Initially, they held informal meetings to simply talk with others facing the same devastating circumstances. Eventually, however, these parents recognized that more structure, along with a way to engage with health and research professionals studying brain injuries, was an important objective. They formed NBIS in an effort to find or create supportive programming and resources, establishing a community for people with brain injuries.

Healthcare’s Overlooked Injury

The organization limits its focus to acquired brain injuries, which are actually exceedingly common. Roughly 20% of the population is impacted by one in their lifetime, either in the short- or long-term, yet the injuries are not always well understood. According to the World Health Organization’s definition, acquired brain injuries happen at least seven days after one’s birth and are not part of a disease process such as Parkinson’s Disease or ALS. Acquired brain injuries include stroke, anoxic or hypoxic brain injury (lack of oxygen to the brain), traumatic brain injury and concussion.

People with ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological conditions often have a team of medical professionals to provide services. NBIS clients, due to the nature of their brain injuries, don’t always have access to that kind of comprehensive care. This is why brain injury is often considered overlooked by healthcare professionals. NBIS aims to improve quality of life for brain injury survivors and their families by providing direct support, education, advocacy and changing the standard of care by participating in research.

Support, Connection, Education

NBIS offers services such as assistance completing forms, counseling support, brain injury ID cards, and the eight-week Life After Brain Injury Program. NBIS also coordinates group and one-on-one peer support programs.

Many NBIS clients who feel ready to give back on their journey of recovery become peer support volunteers working with those who are experiencing similar challenges. NBIS also works within the larger Nanaimo community, providing education on brain injury awareness and prevention. NBIS has partnered with the local “Bikes for Kids” program with their own “Helmets for Kids” initiative, so new riders can pedal safely.

NBIS’s newest program, Axis Cognitive Rehab, powered by the BEARS platform, is an evidence-based regimen based on cognitive training, physical exercise, mindfulness, and progress tracking. BEARS has a 77% rate of success in helping clients return to work post-injury and illness, either part-time or full-time. Many more successes and stories are highlighted on NBIS’s website.

Good Cause, Good Fun

Most NBIS services are offered at no charge for clients, so donations and fundraising are essential to their operations. Their main fundraiser, “Toss the Boss,” is run in partnership with the Victoria Brain Injury Society and WildPlay Nanaimo. Employees fundraise for their boss to bungee cord jump off a bridge. The company and its employees must raise at least $500 to “toss the boss”, but higher goals are encouraged for prizes and recognition for the top fundraising teams.

Of course, a few bosses absolutely decline. They may nominate another employee to take their place or buy their way out by doubling the original donation! NBIS and the Victoria Brain Injury Society raised more than $87,000 through Toss the Boss in 2021. Toss the Boss 2022 will be held on September 23, 2022. For more information go to www.tosstheboss.ca

How You Can Help

Volunteers are essential to the work of NBIS. Brain injury survivors and family caregivers are invited to become peer volunteers, either for a group or for one-on-one interactions. Peer volunteers use their own experiences to inspire and support NBIS clients.

Volunteers are needed to help run events such as Toss the Boss, and to assist with marketing, social media, and website design. Students looking for practical experience are also invited to work with NBIS in the community while learning more about brain injury services and research.

To learn more about how to volunteer, donate, or toss your boss, visit NBIS’s website, their Facebook page, or YouTube channel.