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Traumatic brain injury rehab "graduates" celebrate in Miami

Six teenagers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries are finally graduating from the Jackson Memorial Hospital's outpatient pediatric rehabilitation program. Most of the six were injured in car accidents and at one time were on the verge of death. Now, after several years of medical treatments and rehabilitation, they are ready to graduate and to have fun.

The rehab group went to Crandon Park in Key Biscayne to barbecue and to relax. The outing was sponsored by the Caviglia Bluewater Foundation. The foundation was named for Alex Caviglia who was in an accident that caused a traumatic brain injury a year before his death. His widow is attempting to shed light on the 5.3 million people disabled by a traumatic brain injury.

The barbecue is more than just a social outing, however. The barbecue serves as a form of rehabilitation as well. The teens had to choose what they wanted to eat, decide what they would need for the outing, and go to a grocery store to buy the supplies. The teens also had to help with the food preparation and cooking when they got to the park. According to one of the recreational therapists working with the group, the teens have trouble with everyday tasks that people without traumatic brain injuries could do easily.

She says that many of them have problems with their processing and planning and organization skills. Additionally, they are more likely to lose information in their short term memory.

Because it can take people living with traumatic brain injuries a little bit longer to do some tasks, the group provides the teens with a group of people struggling with the same things. The teens can learn from each other and talk about the difficulties that people without traumatic brain injuries might not understand.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Foundation helps teens suffering from traumatic brain injury," Ana Veciana-Suarez, Aug. 12, 2011

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