December 18, 2003
Brain injury survivors celebrate independence at annual party
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—It’s supposed to be a Christmas party.
But this Friday’s gathering at Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s Quest program could just as easily be considered Independence Day festivities.
Most of the guests will be brain injury survivors who are celebrating their return to self-sufficiency, said Joyce Leverenz, admissions coordinator for Quest, an outpatient community reintegration program for people with brain injuries.
“These are people who are thankful they’re alive and can stay by themselves, go to work or school and be with their friends,” she said.
Leverenz said the party gives program “graduates” a chance to reunite with staff members. It’s also an opportunity to recognize the schools, businesses and volunteer sites that work with Quest participants to ease their transition back to school, work or community life.
For example, the Jackson Police Department will be among the honored employers for its support of Officer Warren Hull.
Hull rejoined the department’s Traffic Division in April, seven months after sustaining a life-threatening brain injury while responding to a call on his Harley Davidson police package motorcycle.
Hull says his current job as a hit and run accident investigator was made possible by the cooperation between Quest occupational therapist Charlene Toney and his supervisor Sgt. Maurice Kendricks. They helped devise strategies to help Hull compensate for the organizational and memory deficits often encountered by brain injury survivors. “Without Quest and the help of the department, I would not be where I am today,” Hull said.
Hull says he’s still improving, and that’s something that will be inspiring to other Quest participants at the party who aren’t as far along in their recoveries, Leverenz said.
“Our previous clients are very proud of their recoveries, and it’s nice for the current clients to see there is light at the end of the tunnel. They get encouragement from them.”
It lifts the spirits of the Quest staff, as well, Leverenz added. “It gives us a real boost to see how well people are doing. You get real attached when they’re here, and it’s cool to see them come back and say how much they appreciate what you’ve done for them. ”