Xay with basketball Xay helmet Xay football

The month of March is recognized as ‘Brain Injury Awareness Month.’ The now internationally recognized ‘Unmasking Brain Injury’ movement serves with the mission to promote awareness of the prevalence of brain injury; to give survivors a voice and the means to educate others of what it’s like to live with a brain injury; to show others that persons living with a disability due to their brain injury are like anyone else, deserving of dignity, respect, compassion and the opportunity to prove their value as citizens in their respective communities.

“Unmasking Brain Injury” guided project.  Xay, a former 18-year-old patient who suffered a traumatic brain injury following a car accident, had made gains in therapies and through several Recreational Therapy treatment sessions he was able to complete his own mask to share.

For the “unmasking Brain Injury” guided projects, each individual is provided with materials, instructions, video/articles to work on emotional expression with the Recreational Therapist.

Before Xay’s discharge, he agreed for me to share and submit his mask serving our state of North Carolina for continued advocacy for this population. He stated he is hopeful to provide inspiration to others telling his story through this intervention.

If you have the opportunity, please check out their website where you can see all the individuals that have participated including a site specific to those in North Carolina. www.unmaskingbraininjury.org       

                    –Claire Salisbury, LRT/CTRS

Explanation of Mask told by Xay: “I choose the color red to represent both my sadness and anger. Sadness explains how I feel but also angry because I don’t remember anything. The word ‘effort’ is on my mouth to represent the need I have to stay alive and effort to go through therapy. Finding my words and expressing myself takes effort and I thank you for that. Effort for taking the needles, effort for having the wires removed from my jaw. ‘Victorious’ is at the top of my mask because I am closer to my friends and family. I am victorious after my life was tested in a car crash. My friendships and family is being tested right now. I feel victorious with how I came out. The picture of guys talking….looking like whispers, but that’s y’all, my therapists telling me how good I’m doing…being encouraging to me. ‘Fight’ because I have to fight to get my life back, like how? Don’t wanting to sit around being miserable. I know my life is not the same, but I’m happy with how everything is going. I’m not going to feel sad and cry. ‘Rebuilding’ you have to rebuild yourself – look at the picture that won’t fit on my mask. My therapists help me like that…one on each side! Everything is a project….a rebuilding project.” -Xay

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