Kimberly Russell knows about brain injuries.
Her daughter, now 16, underwent her first brain surgery when she was just 5 days old. Stints at the hospital followed — sometimes for months at a time. Russell is grateful her large family was there to offer support, but they ultimately had to tend to their own lives, while Russell’s remained focused on her daughter’s devastating injury.
“I felt so alone,” she told the Brain Injury Law Center recently. “I had some of the best doctors out there, but none of them ever said, ‘Kim, this is a website, an organization, a resource you can go to to find out more about your daughter’s brain injury.’ That’s what we want to be to people.”
She’s referring to TryMunity, a non-profit online community that brings people together who are affected by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Users create profiles and interact with one another much like they do on popular social media platforms like Facebook.
Russell is the executive director of the organization, which is based in McKinney, Texas. Here are some highlights from our conversation with her:
A: We’re about a year old now. When TryMunity was first launched last May, within 30 days and with no advertising over 500 people had signed up online. For the last 4 or 5 months, we’ve really gotten a handle on who we are. Our goal is to be the Susan G. Komen of TBIs. That’s what we’re morphing into.
Q: What is it about social media that makes it a strong tool for brain injury survivors?
A: The TryMunity website’s social media platform is what the first Facebook looked like. It’s built off that technology. When you suffer a serious brain injury, your life goes from literally hundreds of people down to 2 or 3. Social media allows you to reconnect with other people who understand what you’re going through. They’re in the same exact fight. They’re in different stages of it, which is good. They share information. It opens up the world for them.
Q: What are the common causes of TBIs you’re seeing in people who join the community?
A: The military, as you can imagine. I get literally hundreds of phone calls a week from spouses or parents of our veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and they need help. Another huge demographic for us are retired football players. Then, of course, you have parents whose children have fallen off a bicycle. Also car accident and stroke victims.
Q: How are people finding TryMunity?
A: The biggest thing for us has been word of mouth, which ends up spreading very quickly with TBIs being in the news due to returning veterans and the NFL. It was easy for us to capitalize off the wave they are creating. It’s just a lot of word of mouth, a lot of press releases, meeting other organizations and partnering with them.
Check It Out
If your life has been affected by a TBI, we strongly urge you to check out TryMunity. It is a unique resource that can help not only people living with brain injuries, but also those who love and care about them. Only through compassion, knowledge and understanding can we offer the best futures to those who suffer serious brain injuries. We believe TryMunity offers all of those things, and that’s why we wanted to feature it here at the Brain Injury Law Center.