Brain Injury Survivors Make Masks to Represent Their Experiences

The event is part of a project to raise awareness for brain injury

FARGO, N.D. — Art can be very therapeutic, and Sanford is giving brain injury survivors an outlet to get their creative juices flowing.

Kathleen Ford suffered from a stroke last year, and art has been part of her life throughout her recovery process.

“My kids tell me to hang up [my painting] so I do,” she said.

Now she’s bringing her artistic skills to a mask making event hosted by Sanford.

The hospital takes part in Unmasking Brain Injury, a nationwide project giving survivors a chance to express how their life has been affected.

Every survivor starts with a blank canvas, some know what they want to create right away, and others take some time to think about how they bring a mask to life.

“With the brain it’s hard because it doesn’t recover nearly as fast broken bone would. So these patients have a long recovery and have worked very hard to get where they are today,” Jenny Marsden, a PA in physical medicine and rehab, said.

Brain injuries can happen from not just stroke and accidents, but also infection.

Some masks show where the injury happened on their head and words describing how their injury felt.

Change is a common theme on the masks, as brain injury is a life-changing event.

“People don’t realize the impact brain injury can have on patients and their families, and I think this is a great way to describe that,” Marsden said.

The Unmasking Brain Injury Project has a traveling display of masks that’s added to every time a hospital hosts an event.

Doctors want to remind people that traumatic brain injuries can cause changes in thinking or behavior over time.

“It’s kind of called in the invisible disability because oftentimes you can’t see it so this is a nice way to put it down and let people show their disability,” Carly Endres, outreach coordinator for the Brain Injury Network, said.

Ford is able to take care of herself now, and her advice to other survivors is to never give up.

“Just keep pushing and you will get through this. It takes time, I appreciate life more, because when I look at people who went through the same thing I did, I see how blessed I was, it couldn’t been worse for me,” she said.

The next Unmasking Brain Injury event will be June 10th at Sanford Health Medical Center in Bismarck.

Categories: Health, Local News, North Dakota News