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Group supports those with brain injuries

At first glance, the founding members of the St. Croix County Traumatic Brain Injury support group don't appear to have many troubles.

A short conversation about the impact of such injuries on the three individuals quickly puts that initial impression to rest.

When Marty Kolstad suffered a mild stroke in 2008, his whole world was turned upside down.

He had to give up his job with Lockheed Martin. He has since struggled through a variety of challenges, including memory problems and trouble with dropping things.

"It's kind of been an uphill battle ever since," he said. "You have to do a lot of coping and compensating to get around the problems."

Maggie Bower developed Grave's Disease and thyroid issues over time, after suffering head injuries from a car accident and previous sport participation. She's also mother to two children with brain injuries (a 20-year-old who was injured while diving and a five-year-old who was struck by a hit-and-run vehicle.)

"I have short-term memory loss issues and coping issues," Bower said. "I'm able to work, which I appreciate. But I have organizational issues so I have to walk around with a notebook a lot, which really helps."

"I should have bought stock in Post-It notes," Kolstad said, explaining how he's able to better deal with memory issues that resulted from his stroke.

Mary Frasier was in a car accident in 2005 and injured herself in a fall after that. Since those incidents, she's had to deal with debilitating headaches, memory issues and organizational problems.

As people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the western Wisconsin-based support group members are among thousands of Wisconsin residents who deal with the aftereffects of such injuries.

According to the Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin, 15 people a day suffer a brain injury across the state. That's why Kolstad, Bower and Frasier decided to form a local support group, which is open to anyone in the western Wisconsin region. Their first meeting was in December.

The St. Croix County Traumatic Brain Injury support group meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month. They gather in the New Richmond Civic Center.

The special speaker for the March meeting is Dr. Tom Tatlock, who sustained a brain injury in 1999. He fell from a ladder and hit his head on a concrete sidewalk.

Even though he was a physician himself, Tatlock claims it was next to impossible to find the health care he needed.

For more information on the support group or the upcoming meeting, contact Frasier at (651) 442-3960.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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