Columbus, OH,
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Columbus Dispatch: Traumatic Brain Injury Masks

Patients Design Masks To Allow Others To See What Is Happening Inside

When you suffer a traumatic brain injury, your life as you know it changes.  It can impact the way you speak, the way you walk, and the way you interact daily with friends and family.

All too often, those suffering can feel isolated, have changes in mood, or memory issues.  There can be so much happening on the inside, that people don't always see.

As part of a special program through the OhioHealth Rehabilitation Hospital, and the OhioHealth Dempsey Family and Education Center at Riverside Methodist Hospital, participants in therapy groups at both locations took on a special project.

Patients created masks, decorating inside and out.

"We wanted to give our patients another voice — a creative voice — to show others what it means to have a brain injury and how it’s affected them,” OhioHealth occupational therapist Adam Snyder said.

“Brain injury is a silent disease, and people are always telling them they look OK,” Katherine Snook, OhioHealth Rehabilitation Hospital speech therapist said. “This (the mask project) is giving other people a visual of what they are going through.”

Sherry and Jeff Martin were in an accident several years back. Sherry suffered a brain injury and took to the project in a bit of a different way.

"Everyone started doing the front, but because of what I look like, people can't believe I have a brain injury, so I decorated the inside first," Martin said. "The yellow and purple are so much healing, and black squiggles represent some problems or spots that just aren't right."

"There is loneliness, We were always a team, and it was like I didn't have my teammate," Jeff Martin said. 

Through this therapy, there has been some healing. Emotionally for sure for the Martin's. But being able to share the masks and messages with others in the support group has helped too.

The masks are still on display at the Dempsey Family and Education Center, at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.

To see the full story in the Columbus Dispatch, click on the logo.