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Support group formed for TBI survivors

I am pleased to announce the formation of a new support group at The Den.

Thank you to Don Wilhelmi for his dedication in bringing together the Brain Injury Support Group. This group will meet the first and third Fridays at 10:30 a.m. in the lounge. Join together with a group of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) survivors who support and learn from each other. Engage in group problem solving as they explore learning to incorporate new strategies. Receive resources, support, guidance and compassion. This group is co-sponsored by the Southwest Center for Independence.

For more information, contact me at 264-2167.

But, just exactly what is TBI? (Excerpts from

The number of people with TBI is difficult to assess accurately, but is much larger than most people would expect. According to the CDC (United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),there are approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. who suffer from a traumatic brain injury each year. Fifty thousand people die from TBI each year and 85,000 people suffer long term disabilities. In the U.S., more than 5.3 million people live with disabilities caused by TBI. Patients admitted to a hospital for TBI are included in this count, while those treated in an emergency room or doctor’s office are not counted.

The causes of TBI are diverse. The top three causes are car accidents, firearms and falls. Firearm injuries are often fatal; nine out of 10 people die from their injuries. Young adults and the elderly are the age groups at highest risk for TBI. Along with a traumatic brain injury, persons are also susceptible to spinal cord injuries, which is another type of traumatic injury that can result out of vehicle crashes, firearms and falls. Prevention of TBI is the best approach since there is no cure.

These mechanisms are the highest causes of brain injury: Open head Injury, Closed Head Injury, Deceleration Injuries, Chemical/Toxic, Hypoxia, Tumors, Infections and Stroke.

1.Open Head Injury results from bullet wounds, etc. with largely focal damage and penetration of the skull. Effects can be just as serious as closed brain injury

2.Closed Head Injury. Resulting from a slip and fall, motor vehicle crashes, etc. Focal damage and diffuse damage to axons. Effects tend to be broad (diffuse). No penetration to the skull.

3.Deceleration Injuries (Diffuse Axonal Injury). The skull is hard and inflexible while the brain is soft with the consistency of gelatin. The brain is encased inside the skull. During the movement of the skull through space (acceleration) and the rapid discontinuation of this action when the skull meets a stationary object (deceleration) causes the brain to move inside the skull. The brain moves at a different rate than the skull because it is soft. Different parts of the brain move at different speeds because of their relative lightness or heaviness. The differential movement of the skull and the brain when the head is struck results in direct brain injury, due to diffuse axonal shearing, contusion and brain swelling.

Diffuse axonal shearing: when the brain is slammed back and forth inside the skull, it is alternately compressed and stretched because of the gelatinous consistency. The long, fragile axons of the neurons (single nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord) are also compressed and stretched. If the impact is strong enough, axons can be stretched until they are torn. This is called axonal shearing. When this happens, the neuron dies. After a severe brain injury, there is massive axonal shearing and neuron death.

4.Chemical/Toxic. Also known as metabolic disorders. This occurs when harmful chemicals damage the neurons. Chemicals and toxins can include insecticides, solvents, carbon monoxide poisoning, lead poisoning, etc. If the blood flow is depleted of oxygen, then irreversible brain injury can occur from anoxia (no oxygen) or hypoxia (reduced oxygen). It may take only a few minutes for this to occur. This condition may be caused by heart attacks, respiratory failure, drops in blood pressure and a low oxygen environment. This type of brain injury can result in severe cognitive and memory deficits.

6.Tumors. Tumors caused by cancer can grow on or over the brain. Tumors can cause brain injury by invading the spaces of the brain and causing direct damage. Damage can also result from pressure effects around an enlarged tumor. Surgical procedures to remove the tumor may also contribute to brain injury.

7.Infections. The brain and surrounding membranes are very prone to infections if the special blood-brain protective system is breached. Viruses and bacteria can cause serious and life-threatening diseases of the brain (encephalitis) and meninges (meningitis).

8.Stroke. If blood flow is blocked through a cerebral vascular accident (stroke), cell death in the area deprived of blood will result. If there is bleeding in or over the brain (hemorrhage or hematoma) because of a tear in an artery or vein, loss of blood flow and injury to the brain tissue by the blood will also result in brain damage.

‘Forks Over Knives’

Join us for a free showing of “Forks Over Knives” at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 27. Dr. Oz said, “I loved it and I need all of you to see it.” And Roger Ebert has said “This is a film that could change your life.” Tess Challis (local author, healthy chef and wellness expert) will give a brief introduction to the film, and will also be available for a Q&A to follow. You don’t want to miss this free, fun and life-changing event.

I recently watched this movie. Yep, we kid you not when we say “life-changing.” Please join us for a discussion after the film on how we can make small changes in our personal lives and even right here at The Den.

‘The Kennedys’

“The Kennedys” is an eight-part series. Twentieth-century America’s most storied political family gets the epic treatment in this miniseries that spans three decades of Kennedy history. The chronicle begins with Joseph Kennedy Sr.’s power plays and ends with his son Bobby’s assassination.

Beginning Friday, May 4, and each Friday through May 25, we’ll show two episodes starting at 1 p.m. in the lounge of The Den.

Episodes one and two, Friday May 4: “A Father’s Great Expectations.” On the eve of the presidential election, and John F. Kennedy is poised to become the youngest man ever elected to office. “Shared Victories, Private Struggles.” As the 1960 presidential election comes down to the wire, Bobby Kennedy tells Joe Sr. he’s leaving politics.


Come in to The Den and check out our library. We have quite the collection of books, including some large print, as well as books on tape/CD, videos, DVDs and audio tapes for you to borrow.

At your service

Not driving anymore? Car in the shop? Get to where you need to go; door to door bus service available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to seniors age 60-plus. Suggested donation is $2 per day. Come hang out with us and enjoy our company. Call for details, 264-2167.

Delivered to your door

Are you struggling to get meals prepared because you are homebound, recovering from surgery or an illness? Let us do the cooking. Enjoy Senior Center meals delivered to your door. Our hot meal home delivery program is available four days per week to those living closer to town, with frozen meals for Thursdays and weekends. Those living further out of town could be eligible for the frozen meal program. Meals are available to people age 60-plus for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. Give us a call at 264-2167 for further information. Donations are greatly appreciated.

Weekly activities at The Den

Friday, April 27 — 10 a.m. Stitchin’ in the Kitchen; 10:30 Book Club; 12:30 p.m. Gym Walk; 1 p.m. free movie and popcorn, “Forks over Knives.”

Monday, April 30 — 12:30 p.m. Gym Walk; 1 p.m. Canasta; 1 p.m. “Carrier” (final episodes 9 and 10).

Tuesday, May 1 — 12:30 p.m. Gym Walk; 1 p.m. Meditation for Healing.

Wednesday, May 2 — 11 a.m. blood pressure checks; 1 p.m. Grief Education Support Group.

Thursday, May 3 — Closed.

Friday, May 4 — 10 a.m. Stitchin’ in the Kitchen; 10:30 a.m. Brain Injury Support Group; 12:30 Gym Walk; 1 p.m. “The Kennedys,” episodes 1 and 2.

This week’s menu

Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, guests $6, kids 12 and under $3. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act via the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging, United Way, Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other donations and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $11.51. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, April 27 — Birthday meal: roast turkey with gravy, cornbread stuffing, cauliflower broccoli mix, raisin-nut cup, spinach mandarin salad, applesauce birthday cake.

Monday, April 30 — Cheeseburger on whole wheat bun, lettuce and tomato slice, roasted sweet potatoes, tossed salad, fruit with citrus, chocolate chip oatmeal cookie.

Tuesday, May 1 — Beef and sweet peppers, brown rice, broccoli, tossed salad, whole wheat roll, brownie.

Wednesday, May 2 — Baked chicken, black-eyed peas, salad, orange beets, orange wedges, whole wheat roll.

Thursday, May 3 — Closed for administrative day.

Friday, May 4 — Baked salmon, brown rice, California vegetables, tomato/cucumber salad, banana, bran muffin, rainbow sherbet.

Arboles meal program

Thursday, May 3 — Meatloaf with gravy, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, tossed salad, gelatin with fruit cocktail, whole wheat roll.

Lunches are served in Arboles on the first and third Thursdays of each month, weather permitting, in the basement of the Catholic Church. Reservations are required the Monday preceding. The suggested donation is $3 for age 60-plus. Call 264-2167 for more information or to make a reservation.

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