PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The first of three public hearings in the state to discuss the needs of people with brain injuries did not draw a large crowd on Wednesday afternoon, but those who attended had a lot of suggestions about how to meet the unmet needs of people with such injuries and their families.
The event was held at The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle and hosted by the Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Council, which advocates for the injured and their families. It also works to pass legislation that will benefit traumatic brain injury patients and their caregivers.
Approximately eight people attended the three-hour session, and most were TAMC employees. Two families spoke about their experiences caring for their brain-injured children.
Representatives also spoke about the ABIAC annual report, which states that there are more than 6,000 Mainers living with long-term disabilities due to brain injuries. The report highlights their priorities, which are issues they will be working on with legislators and other officials.
Lewis Lamont, an advisory council member, represented the group with his wife, Claire. Their son suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident and it took him three and a half years to learn to walk and talk again, they said.
Another family had a similar story. Their 30-year-old son suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was ejected from a car during an accident. He also spent significant time in the hospital for treatment before he returned home. He now lives in a group home.
Speakers at the event said that there are not enough doctors in Aroostook County to treat people with traumatic brain injuries.
The ABIAC report also stated that employment opportunities for brain-injured residents should be improved.
Claire Lamont said that there need to be more efforts to raise public awareness and educate people about brain injury, as it’s not something that Mainers think about too often.
Other participants in the Presque Isle session said that the area needs more neurologists and medical specialists to care for people with brain injuries.
The ABIAC also is accepting written comment on its published priorities and the unmet needs of brain-injured patients and their caregivers.
Two more public hearings have been scheduled, with the next one set for 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, at the Maine Center for Integrated Rehab in Brewer. The final session will be held 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Goodwill Industries of Northern New England in Portland.