The State of Montana ranks second in the nation for the number of traumatic brain injury related deaths per capita.
The Brain Injury Alliance of Montana put on a two-day conference in Kalispell to have both survivors and health care professionals talk about those kinds of injures.
“My injury was eight years ago, last March 16th. I’ll never forget, it was in 2007,” said Glen Brist, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor.
Brist says he suffered the injury after slipping and falling from a trailer and hitting his head.
"Not that I remember after the accident, but I know it changed my life," he said.
Brist says since the accident, he’s had difficulty in his thought process and multitasking.
"For myself it was fatigue, I was tired all the time; it’s hard to process information," said Brist.
But, Brist isn’t alone. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1.7 million people a year suffer a traumatic brain injury. Of those individuals 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized and about 1.4 million are treated and released from an emergency department.
"In Montana, we have 44,000 that are living with a traumatic brain injuryand Montana constantly ranks second or third in the nation per capita of injuries," said Sahra Susman, from the Brain Injury Alliance of Montana.
The Brain Injury Alliance of Montana is the only program in the state geared towards helping those who suffer from a brain injury.
"Often, people that survive a traumatic brain injury feel isolated or they may be having trouble finding the right people to provide services for them," Susman said.
Susman says the purpose of the conference is to change that.
"We wanted to bring together experts in the field that work with people that have brain injuries to provide a resource for them—the people that have experienced injuries themselves," she said.
"It gives us hope that there is help [and to] just know that we are not alone; we have other people that are going through the same thing," Brist said.
After Brist’s life changed eight years ago, he says he realized the importance of living in the present.
"For all of us, if we can just put aside the past and anxiety of the future and just enjoy the people that we are with when we're with them," he said.
The Brain Alliance Injury of Montana will host two more conferences. One will be in Miles City on May 8th and 9th and the other one will be in Great Falls on May 22nd and 23rd.