Educating people on brain injury impacts

Brain Injury Otago educator Cathy Matthews has vast knowledge of brain injury and is keen to...
Brain Injury Otago educator Cathy Matthews has vast knowledge of brain injury and is keen to share it in her new education role. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
After 18 years in the role of liaison officer for Brain Injury Otago, Cathy Matthews will put her vast knowledge to good use in a new education role.

Ms Matthews helped to found the organisation in 2006 and is excited to be transitioning into the part-time role with a clear focus on educating clients, the public, community and health organisations about improving the lives of people impacted by brain injury.

"Education around brain injury is really important, so it will be exciting to be able to focus specifically on that," Ms Matthews said.

Through the education service, she will take knowledge of brain injury out to the community, as well as working with staff involved in caring for people with a brain injury.

"My aim will be to tailor the education to meet the need — I’m very keen to increase the knowledge on brain injury prevention and management," she said.

The new Brain Injury Otago education service will be launched at an afternoon tea event for clients and service providers next Wednesday, March 6, from 1pm-3pm, at Dunedin Community House, 43 Princes St.

In her liaison officer role, Ms Matthews has worked with hundreds of clients and their families on a one-to-one basis, providing support and advocacy.

As someone who has experienced having a brain injury herself, through having a brain tumour, Ms Matthews has an in-depth understanding of what it takes to make adjustments and move forward with life.

Awareness of concussion had grown, but most people equated it with sports injuries, when in fact the most common groups to experience concussion were older people and the young.

Ms Matthews said Brain Injury Otago had experienced a marked increase in workload in recent years, and had grown, adding new staff and working strategically to a plan. As national liaison office representative for the past few years, she has been involved in developing that plan.

"Part of that plan is to create the education service and to use the knowledge that I have built up over the years."

Brain Injury Otago/Canterbury is managed by Jane Butterfield, and Sue Whyte has stepped into the fulltime liaison officer role.

During Brain Injury Awareness month, in March, the organisation will be highlighting the growing incidence of domestic violence in New Zealand, and the corresponding increase in traumatic brain injury.