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Expert on Brain Injury Rehabilitation Speaks in Jackson

Expert on Brain Injury Rehabilitation Speaks in Jackson
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Dr. Rik Lemoncello Speaking at Symposium
Desare Frazier

Mississippi is third in the nation for reports of brain injuries every year. That's according to the state's brain injury association. A national expert on rehabilitation is at the Jackson Medical Mall for a two-day symposium to encourage students studying communicative disorders. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

More than 2 million people every year suffer traumatic brain injuries according to Dr. Rik Lemoncello. He's a professor at Pacific University in Oregon, and an expert in speech language pathology. Lemoncello is talking to Jackson State University students in the Communicative Disorders Department about brain injuries and treatments.

"The brain doesn't necessarily rejuvenate itself but what we're trying to do in rehabilitation with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language therapy is to help the brain rewire in new ways to help compensate and work around the parts that have been injured," said Lemoncello.

Falls, car crashes, playing sports, assaults and strokes are some of the causes of traumatic brain injuries. Lemoncello says the vast majority of traumatic injuries are concussions, which shouldn't be ignored, but examined by a doctor. Lollie Vaughn Robinson is a speech language pathologist and an instructor at Jackson State. She says a family friend suffered a brain injury and it took decades to recover.

"I've had a family friend growing up. She was a pedestrian and was hit by a person on a bicycle and the spokes went through her brain," said Robinson.

Twenty-one year old Kyra Johnson is a senior in the communicative disorders program. What she's learning from Lemoncello makes her want to pursue her graduate degree.

"Seeing that you can change someone's life by their speech is really breathtaking to me and I want to contribute to helping someone," said Johnson.

To learn more about brain injuries and resources in the state, including support groups, visit Mississippi's Brain Injury Association website.