Dr. Carol Ponciroli, OTD OTR/L FAOTA With over 40 years in the field, Dr. Carol Ponciroli,OTD OTR/L FAOTA, has made an enormous impact on the lives of many throughout the Brain Buddies organization, and beyond. An Occupational Therapist, such as Dr. Ponciroli, is responsible for helping patients develop, recover, and improve in regards to a condition or injury, as well as maintain the skills needed to execute daily activities. In other words, similarly to the goals of Brain Buddies, Occupational Therapists help individuals live independently while reaching their goals, both physically and cognitively. Learn more about Dr. Ponciroli below, and read how being a part of the Brain Buddies community has affected her over the years:

I became involved in Brain Buddies as I was working with clients who were members of the organization. Also, as a facilitator for over 25 years of the Missouri Brain Injury Support Group in St. Louis, some of those in attendance at the support group also were involved with Brain Buddies as members or family and friends of members. Both organizations of Brain Buddies and the Missouri Brain Injury Association (MO BIA) offer wonderful services, complimenting each other as referral services.

The MO BIA provides wonderful statewide, monthly support groups and exceptional formal conferences and educational seminars with some social activities for those of all age ranges. In contrast, Brain Buddies’ focus is on a demographic in the approximate age of 20 to 40 year olds. It is important for everyone to have the opportunity to engage in an active, fulfilling social life. The fun, social activities and content of monthly meetings of the Brain Buddies organization are specifically chosen to engage those in the young to mid adult age range. There are many challenges BI (Brain Injury) survivors face while acclimating back to social settings, including physical, speech or cognitive changes, lack of finances, and lack of transportation. Brain Buddies understands the challenges those with Brain Injuries face and the importance of making sure social events remain accessible. 

Social isolation is a common condition experienced by those with Brain Injuries. Those who are socially isolated lack a sense of belonging socially, lack engagement with others, and have a minimal number of social contacts. Many things contribute to isolation following Brain Injury. Oftentimes physical limitations interfere with participation in past work, home and social activities. Changes in cognition and personality of those with Brain Injuries are often misunderstood by friends, co-workers and family. Over time, the support of friends and family may decrease, leaving the person with a Brain Injury more isolated. 

Those with Brain Injuries may have loss of speech or decreased communication skills, which means participation in social activities may require assistance. It is not always easy for the person with a Brain Injury to arrange physical or communication assistance so they can attend social activities. Lack of transportation is a major limitation to social engagement, as oftentimes driving is no longer an option for someone with a Brain Injury, and cost and availability of alternative transportation may be difficult. This carries over to the workplace, where those with Brain Injuries may also be unable to return to employment. Paid work usually provides a natural place of social engagement, or financial ability, to pursue social activities.

Brain Buddies is an excellent way for those with brain injuries, and their family and friends, to make social connections, support each other’s accomplishments and share resources. Getting together with others who are experiencing similar circumstances allows the family and companions to share ideas, information, and resources with one another. Knowing that others you are with understand and support you provides hope and comfort. Brain Buddies meets the needs of members, families and companions.