Sometimes an effective way to cope with a serious life-threatening event is to receive
moral support from others who have gone through a similar experience.
The Ho‘oikaika Mentoring Project
offers support for those with a traumatic brain injury by matching them with mentors
who have also experienced a brain injury.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a disability caused by an external force or jolt
to the head and can often result in death. In Hawai‘i, the primary causes
of TBI are falls, followed by motor vehicle crashes.
TBI is often called the “invisible” disability because the person often
shows no external physical changes. However, people with TBI often experience severe
personality and behavioral changes that can affect them at home, work and in society
throughout their lives.
The severity of TBI ranges from mild (short-term symptoms such as dizziness, headaches
or unconsciousness) to severe (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia
after the injury).
Peer mentoring for persons with traumatic brain injury has proven to be essential
for improving social relations, stress, and overall health and wellness. “It
has made a real difference for people who have acknowledged that they have a TBI,”
says Robin Brandt, Ho‘oikaika’s project director.
Ho‘oikaika, which is part of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa’s
John A. Burns School of Medicine, matches mentors and peers to create support through
friendship. Participants share their experiences in monthly group trainings and
meetings. The program also helps participants gain access to community resources.
Various group activities, such as picnics and community service projects, help them
build social skills and relationships.
If you’re interested in volunteering for Ho‘oikaika, call (808) 592-5900