5K run to benefit brain injury survivors

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

The El Paso Brain Injury Support Group will be having their fourth annual 5K walk and run on March 21, at Ascarate Park.

The run will begin at 8 a.m. with packet pickup taking place between 7 a.m. to 7:45 am. All proceeds will benefit The El Paso Brain Injury Support Group.

The El Paso Brain Injury Support Group was founded in 2013, with the goal of providing the community with the resources, education and family support needed when someone encounters a life-changing experience, such as a severe brain injury.

Every member in the support group has a survivor story. The group allows them to come together to share their stories and heal together as a second family.

The El Paso Brain Injury Support Group can be joined free of charge, and meets inside Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation, which is inside the SunRidge Assisted Living Home at 1831 Murchison Dr. every month. Anyone who has survived a brain injury or was affected by someone who suffered a brain injury is welcome to join.

Leo Mendoza, member of The El Paso Brain Injury Support Group, said being a part of a group has helped him to a great extent, and events like these help keep the group afloat.

“Last year we had an extra 40 people show up to the race, so this year we are hoping for a turnout of 200 people,” Mendoza said. “This way we could raise between $500 and $800.”

Mendoza has been a member of the support group for five years. The group has helped him cope with his injury, meet people he can relate to and form a support system unique to his own situation.

“We have a saying as a group–you don’t know what we’ve been through until you’ve walked a 100 miles in our shoes,” Mendoza said. “If I had a dollar for everyone I could help prevent brain injury, I’d be poor. I can’t prevent accidents, I can only give advice and support.”

Michelle Guiterrez, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy, said the amount of trauma associated with and the type of recovery for brain injuries depends on the accident or cause.

“Depending on the extent and location of the injury, brain injury impairments vary greatly,” Guiterrez said.

The different degrees of injury also call for different recovery process lengths.

“Usually the most rapid recovery will occur within the first six months after the injury, but a person with a brain injury will continue to show recovery for two years,” Guiterrez said. “The brain is an amazing, dynamic organ that can adapt and change with time, so most people who have a brain injury will have continued recovery for years after the injury; even two years post-injury most people will continue to show decline in disability.”

The types of physical therapy required during the healing process vary depending on the injury. Some of the most common aspects physical therapy addresses include balance, coordination, weakness, spasticity and dizziness.

“Working with an interdisciplinary rehabilitation team (including the person with acquired brain injury, a physiatrist, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, case managers, neuropsychologists) will focus on the optimal recovery of the individual,” Guiterrez said.

Guiterrez also said joining support groups, like The El Paso Brain Injury Support Group, can be very valuable to people suffering from brain injuries and their families as well.

“Because a brain injury is an invisible disorder, people cannot always see the disability,” Guiterrez said. “It causes not only physical impairments, but also cognitive impairments such as memory, concentration and mood, and only an individual and a family who lives with brain injury can understand how brain injury affects them.”

There is a $20 registration fee, and all vehicles parking at Ascarate Park will need to pay a $2 parking fee. The first 200 registrants will receive a free t-shirt.

To register visit ww.raceadventuresunlimited.com. The run can be found under the events tab.

For more information about The El Paso Brain Injury Support Group, call 915-351-4441 or like their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheElPasoBrainInjurySupportGroup.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]