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April 2020

Save the Date

Most events scheduled for the spring are postponed. 
The Highmark Walks in Pittsburgh and the Lehigh Valley will now be virtual events.  FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR HIGHMARK DETAILS.

We will also send updates on plans to reschedule as they become available.


HeadLines Special Edition: Coping Through COVID-19

This edition of HeadLines is dedicated to the many ways in which we are all adjusting to the challenges of social distancing brought on by COVID-19. Our community shows so much resilience and creativity. We wanted to share some examples of that with you.

Virtual Support Groups

We are so impressed by the Brain Injury Support Groups during this global health crisis! Many of the groups have found a way to stay connected using social media and video conferencing. The video conferencing technology took us all out of our comfort zone and taught us to overcome social isolation by trying something new. For the many support group leaders and brain injury survivors - isn't that what we do best? We are resilient and warriors. We power through new ways to learn everyday. If support group participants do not have access to a computer or Internet, they can call in on their phones. You do not need to be in a support group to use this technology, you can connect with your family and friends using video conferencing.

There are several groups using Zoom to meet virtually. We are aware of the following groups who are doing so, and we encourage you to reach out to them if you are looking for advice about how to make this meeting option work for your group. Contact information can be found in the Support Group Listing on the BIAPA website:

  • Lost and Found in Pittsburgh - facilitated by Amanda Burgy Allemang
  • The Lancaster Area Brain Injury Support Group - facilitated by Kathleen Meade
  • The Shadyside Brain Injury Support Group - facilitated by Monica Bielawski
  • Heads on Straight in Langhorne - facilitated by Mike Hrbowski and Anne Sears
  • TBI Support Group @ HOPE in King of Prussia - facilitated by Todd Buzby
  • The Brain Injury Support Group in Norristown - facilitated by Catherine Chambers and Charlene Towers
  • The Penn Traumatic Brain Injury Group in Philadelphia - facilitated by Megan Moyer and Erika Silverman

The BrainSTEPS team in Montgomery County, led by Jean Miksch, started a group to foster connections among high school students during this time. The group has met twice and there are plans to continue. Five of the school districts in Montgomery County have opted in to this opportunity for peer support and reflection on the journey to recovery. It is encouraging to hear of a new group forming during this time!

Brain Injury Pop-Up Support Group

Not every support group is able to meet virtually, for a variety of reasons. So, BIAPA held our first "pop-up" support group on April 23rd to provide an opportunity for those individuals with brain injury as well as caregivers to have an opportunity for social connection. Ann Marie McLaughlin, BIAPA President, and Monica Vaccaro, BIAPA Director of Programs, hosted the group. There were 39 participants from across Pennsylvania! It was a safe space to talk about what people are struggling with and to share ideas of things that help through the isolation - from online support groups, to yoga, to podcasts, apps and more. We had a special performance from Cristabelle Braden, an encouraging song about hope.

We learned a lot from this experience. Meeting virtually allows those who are not able to get to meetings in person to connect with others. Geography does not need to be a barrier, and people who would not otherwise meet each other can connect. There is a great potential to form groups for various purposes that might not happen otherwise.

Stay tuned for details on our next Pop-Up Support Group! We will advertise on the BIAPA Facebook page, and we will also send information to support group leaders to pass on to their members.

We welcome feedback from those who attended the Pop-Up Group as well as ideas from those interested in attending in the future. Do you have an idea for a topic? Special requests? Message us on Facebook or send an email message to survivorsupport@biapa.org.

Survivor Support Video Project

The goal of the Survivor Support Video Project is to collect video with messages of encouragement during this challenging time. Thank you to Cristabelle Braden, who is managing this project! Here are her thoughts about it, "The Survivor Support project is a fun way that we can all make our voices heard to help others! This is a time when so many are feeling lonely and isolated, and I hope these videos help fellow survivors to know that they are not alone. So grateful to the BIAPA for all of their efforts and for helping to make this project a reality! Anyone is welcome to send in their video, and we would love to have your submissions! We have to stay encouraged during this time, and I hope you know that you truly are not alone."

You can watch the first two videos posted on the BIAPA YouTube channel. We are working on sharing other videos that were submitted as well. We will be posting them on the BIAPA Facebook page, on the BIAPA YouTube channel, and plan to have them on a dedicated page on the BIAPA website soon.

We want to hear from you!

  • Simply record a short 1-4 minute horizontal video on your phone, make sure it is turned to the side, on one of these topics:
  • Encouragement for survivors.
  • What helps you to keep going?
  • How are you coping during this time of social distancing?
  • Reminders of hope.
  • Something that's fun to do or watch at home.
  • Books, apps, movie, podcast recommendations.
  • Anything else to provide support.

Submit your video to survivorsupport@biapa.org. Tell us your name, your connection to brain injury, and where in Pennsylvania you live.

All are encouraged to participate. YOU can make a difference!

Guidelines from BrainSTEPS about Learning Virtually

All public schools in Colorado and Pennsylvania are in a great position to support students with brain injury, whether they are learning in school buildings or online, because schools have access to BrainSTEPS Brain Injury Consulting program.

Since students with brain injury may have difficulty with some aspect of online learning, BrainSTEPS developed a list of academic adjustments that can be used with students participating in remote learning during the pandemic. BrainSTEPS developed a comprehensive resource to assist family, caregivers and the student(s) while utilizing online learning.

  • Possible difficulties students with a concussion may encounter, and
  • Adjustments that may help alleviate common concussion symptoms when participating in online learning.

The full list of guidelines and resources, along with Pennsylvania's BrainSTEPS contact information, can be found here.

Update on BIAPA Annual Conference

The BIAPA Conference Planning Committee has made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person conference this year. Plans are already underway to hold the 2021 Conference in-person at the Lancaster Marriott on June 27-29, 2021. For 2020, BIAPA is planning an exciting series of virtual. workshops to provide valuable information and assist with CEU credits. The workshop series will begin in September. A full schedule with details will be shared this summer. Details will be announced on the BIAPA website at www.biapa.org.


Thank you to our Corporate Partners

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Gold Partner


Silver Partners

Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania
950 Walnut Bottom Road, Suite 15-229, Carlisle, PA
Phone: 717-692-5569, 1-866-635-7097


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