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College of Human Ecology

Garcia, Sellers help brain injury survivors, families

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Professor Jane Garcia

Professor Jane Garcia

In 2008, Deb Sellers and Jane Garcia had a big idea and a few hundred dollars to tackle a problem that affects more than 10,000 Kansans each year.

This summer the National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the two K-State faculty members a grant for $142,830 to continue their work in helping survivors of a traumatic brain injury.

Their project is called Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Promoting Public Knowledge.

Garcia, a professor of communication sciences and disorders in the School of Family Studies and Human Services, has worked with TBI survivors for more than 20 years and has led a TBI support group in Manhattan since 1998.

Major challenge for BIS: public awareness

"A constant during that time is that when people come back to their home and community, they face many challenges," she said. "Families may not know the resources that are available or who to contact for help. Another challenge is public awareness. I receive many calls from families who are searching for community resources to meet their needs."

Sellers, assistant professor and extension specialist in adult development and aging, said that TBIoptions helps survivors and families find organizations in their community that can help. Extension agents and communities helped gather the resource list on the TBIoptions website, she said.

Support from Kansas communities

Garcia said some examples of local support that aren´t always evident to survivors and families include:

  • a partnership between churches and civic organizations in Atchison to provide an in-home meal for those not able to prepare their own;
  • an organization in Minneapolis (Kan.) that offers a respite program, allowing temporary relief and help for family caregivers;
  • a service for older Kansans in Wellington that offers help with housing, nutrition and legal issues.

Kansas number above national average

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that 1.7 million Americans suffer a TBI each year. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 3.2 million Americans have a long-term or lifelong need for help in their daily lives as a result of a TBI.

CDC´s figures show that Kansas annually rates above the national averages among all states for the number of  hospitalizations and fatalities due to a TBI.

Sellers´ and Garcia´s initial idea for TBIoptions was funded by a university grant for $375. In 2009, they were awarded more than $81,000 from the Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services program. The initial seed money from K-State (which provided the foundation for the coming year´s project) has now translated into more than $225,000 to help Kansans.

Prepared by K-State Research and Extension News Media Services and Human Ecology communications

This article was posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2010, and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.