“One of the main things we hear from clients is ‘I don’t feel like I have a purpose anymore’ and when you don’t feel like you have a purpose anymore, you don’t feel very good,” said David Letourneau, Certified Brain Injury Specialist.
Letourneau is talking about people with brain injuries, and the thoughts that go through their heads each day. For years he’s worked with clients of different ages for six hours a day, three days a week — all have had traumatic brain injuries — i.e. ones they didn’t have at birth.
“There’s car accidents, there’s falls and things like that..but we have had a lot of clients and this is what a lot of people don’t realize when it comes to brain injury…stroke patients,” said Letourneau.
Letourneau works at the Center for Integrated Neuro-Rehab in Caribou which has been around for almost seven years. He says this is the only spot north of Bangor offering what used to be known as level three care, meaning they work with high functioning clients.
“When they get out of the other programs, I can walk, I can talk, I’ve re-learned all that, but how do I do this? How do I deal with being in this crowd? How do I find a job again?” he said.
Letourneau says over the years, the amount of patients they’ve seen has been pretty steady – but that could be because not enough people are aware this spot exists and/or they don’t know they have a brain injury. That’s why he says awareness is so important. He says some signs and symptoms of having a brain injury are anxiety, depression, and self isolation. He says the first step for clients is recognizing that. And then this place is here to help them live life to the fullest.
Showing people that you’re not just a brain injury..you’re still you..you still have potential and you still have things that you can do. What is it and how can we unlock that?” said Letourneau.
Though it takes some patients years, Letourneau says most of them see improvements in their quality of life after participating in this program. Considered by some a silent epidemic, early detection is key.