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HEALTH CARE: ND Conference Offers Resources to Cope with Brain Injuries

Professional football players’ brain injuries and concussions often get national attention, but those injuries afflict people of all ages and professions. Each year in North Dakota, an estimated 3,693 individuals sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). More than 13,000 North Dakotans are currently living with a long-term disability from a TBI. 

TBIs are complicated and their effects can manifest in different ways in different people. Some will suffer from addiction, depression, or other mental health issues, and others will have trouble with fatigue, memory loss, speech, or any combination of a multitude of other issues. Often, a friend or family member will take on a caretaker role in their loved one’s life, driving them to appointments or helping them find resources for their specific needs.

The North Dakota Brain Injury Network (NDBIN), located at the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, helps survivors of brain injuries and their families find resources including local support groups, job training opportunities and referrals to facilities and specialists. NDBIN’s resources have grown to include a lending library, a newsletter, an online resource directory of local services, and facilitation of the annual Mind Matters Conference. 

In March, more than 100 health care professionals and brain injury survivors will gather for Mind Matters in Bismarck. Attendees will hear about the latest advances and resources available in caring for individuals who have suffered from a brain injury. Keynote speakers have included physicians and specialists from the region and nation, in addition to well-known brain injury survivors like Olympic snowboarder Kevin Pearce and singer/songwriter Christabelle Braden. This year’s keynote speakers are physician and author Cheryle Sullivan and author, speaker and Paralympian Judy Siegle. For more information, visit

The conference brings a personal element to the statistics and raises awareness of the issues TBI survivors face in getting the care and support they need for daily life. It serves as a forum for connecting TBI survivors with their peers, which is an important part of the support they need.

Nikki Massmann

Communication Coordinator, Center for Rural Health

University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Grand Forks