Walk For Thought highlights struggles, misconceptions about brain injuries

Each year, the number of traumatic brain injuries seems to rise, and recovery often takes years.

This weekend, hundreds of Minnesotans in the middle of their own recoveries are banding together to support one another and raise awareness at the Walk for Though at Long Lake Regional Park.

Not only does the walk celebrate people’s journeys in recovery, but it also brings important awareness of how brain injuries can alter lives.

Scotti Stirling suffered a concussion two years ago while teaching on her farm.

“I was in a classroom, it was the end of the day, and student was upset with some directions I had given him and threw a very large book at the side of my head,” she said. 

She hasn’t been the same since. Now, she enjoys her time with her lambs.

“This is my happy place. They don’t judge me. They don’t ask questions. They’re just here,” she said.

The Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance says the symptoms of a brain injury break down into three areas: cognitive loss, behavioral changes and physical effects.

“Cognitive is memory loss, processing information, concentration,” explained David King with MBIA. “When we talk about emotional behavioral we talk about anxiety, depression, maybe a loss of impulse control..and then the physical effects are what we hear the most about - chronic fatigue, chronic headaches and migraines.”

Everyone’s journey is different; Scotti’s didn’t show up until a few days after her concussion.

“I was at work and I was having trouble doing any type of curriculum writing, anything like that. Whenever I was in a loud environment I felt like I was going into a tunnel, and I just knew something wasn’t right.” 

Two years later, Scotti is still recovering. She’s no longer teaching in the classroom, but she is going back to school to learn accounting.

It’s part of the reason why she’s leading the Walk For Thought on Saturday, to show others that they can recover, too.

“You don’t know until you go,” she said. You don’t have to talk to anybody. Somebody just might come and talk to you. Just go and know that you are not alone and there are so many other people out there. There so many other people living with this than we realize.”

The brain injury alliance says there are about 100,000 Minnesotans who have a disability because of a brain injury.

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