By Jackie Nelson
John Byler, a Hesston resident and traumatic brain injury survivor will be keynoting the 2015 Mind Matters Conference on Brain Injury coordinated by the Center for Rural Health.
“NASA can have Mars; Neurological rehabilitation is the next great frontier,” he said.
Byler said at the conference, he hopes to bridge the gaps between survivors, caregivers, doctors, insurance companies and drug manufacturers.
“The heart of the presentation, the recovery team doesn’t take a super-star neurologist. It is a team with a multi-disciplinary approach that will win the day,” he said.
Byler said he has a vision for just such a team on the national scale.
He realizes his goal for a national organization is lofty, but his family has a history of achieving lofty ambitions.
“My grandmother, Edna Ruth Byler, started 10,000 Villages out of the trunk of her car because she had an idea,” he said.
Byler continued, “My big idea is BISON. It is an acronym for Brain Injury Support; Operation and Neurological.
“This will be a group of people helping streamline the paperwork. The paperwork is too much for healthy people; it is way too much for us,” he said.
Byler said BISON, which he hopes to have a division in each state, can be a hands and feet organization and the Brain Injury Association of America can focus on efforts in Washington DC.
“Susan Conners has transformed the organization into a politicized group and becoming a lobby. We want to help supplement what they’re doing,” he said.
BISON funds, Byler said, would be used to enhance nursing programs, preparing students for dealing with and identifying brain injuries.
Byler said traumatic brain injuries are on the rise in veterans and experts are beginning to understand the risks of traumatic brain injuries in athletes as well.
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