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Joanne Susi

"I lost consciousness in the helicopter and I remember thinking I was dead, and that this was the end…then nothing,” Jim has no memory of his time in the hospital during his stroke, but came out the other side dedicated to fight his way back. And fight he did!
Read Jim's story.

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Annual State House Advocacy Day - February 8, 2018

On Thursday, February 8, 2018, Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester) and Representative Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden) sponsored the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts (BIA-MA) Third Annual Advocacy Day at the State House.   Over one hundred survivors, family members and professionals attended along with numerous state representatives and senators.

Executive Director Nicole Godaire opened the ceremony with informing attendees the exciting news on two our legislative initiatives.  On February 7th, the two committees (Financial Services and Public Health) reported the Cognitive Rehabilitation bill (S.502/H.2166) and Resolve to Reestablish the Brain Injury Commission (S.1168/H.1956) favorably out of the respective committees.  Prior to the Committees’ votes, BIA-MA members persuasively sent 334 emails to each member totaling 5,498 to the Financial Services Committee.  As of the printing of the newsletter, the Senate and House clerks have not posted the next action for the bills.  

Senate President Chandler spoke on her involvement with starting the Brain Injury Commission in 2011.  She explained that as per the recommendation of the Brain Injury Commission that three years ago an epidemiology study on acquired brain injury was completed, the legislature approved funding for a pilot community center in Worcester and that the State is in the process of finalizing the Needs Assessment Report.  By Re-establishing the Brain Injury Commission data concerning the epidemiology report and the needs of individuals with brain injury and their families will be further studied and recommendations made to improve services.

Commissioner of Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Toni Wolf addressed attendees about the Statewide Head Injury Program (SHIP).  SHIP has a network of community-based services and supports that assists individuals in maintaining or increasing their level of independence at home, work and in their communities.  She emphasized the importance of the program to the brain injured community.

Helen Stewart, BIA-MA Information & Outreach Coordinator, spoke about her brain injury and recovery.  Helen explained even with her experience in the medical field how little she felt she knew about both.  Helen reached a point for the first time in her life where she did not know what to do with herself.  Finally following the suggestion from her neurologist, Helen finally attended BIA-MA’s Tea and Talk support group.  After several meetings, Helen connected with another member after hearing her speak of the common threads and challenges in recovery.     Helen inspired the members of the crowd to share their personal stories when meeting with legislators.

At the end of the program, Ms. Godaire outlined BIA-MA’s legislative initiatives:

  • Increase the funding for SHIP by $2 million dollars to fund Community Based Services, Transitional Support Services, Support Services and a Multi-Service Center
  • Cognitive Rehabilitation bill
  • Resolve to Re-establish the Brain Injury Commission 

BIA-MA also sponsored a “Imagine the Impact of Brain Injury on Daily Life” exhibit for the week at the State House.  

Click here to view the Advocacy Day 2017 web page.

For more information about Advocacy at BIA-MA, contact Kelly Buttiglieri at 508-475-0032 or