Janelle Groover: Unmasking Brain Injury

Feb 4, 2016 by

Unmasking Display

An Interview with Janelle Groover: Unmasking Brain Injury

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Janelle, first of all can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your involvement in brain injury?

I have a master’s degree in public health and I am the health educator at the Brain Injury Resource Center (BIRC). My role there is to provide information and resources as well as to provide community outreach about brain injury.

2) You recently headed up a New Mexico Project, working with other staff of the Brain Injury Resource Center, and the Native American Initiative. Can you tell us about the project?

I first saw the unmasking brain injury project at the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) conference that I attended with Dr. Linda Gillett. It is part of a national project that the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina started. I was so moved when I saw the mask project that I wanted to bring it to New Mexico as an initiative for community awareness about brain injury.

3) What was the main purpose of the project and how many people were involved?

The mission of Unmasking Brain Injury is to promote awareness of the prevalence of brain injury; to give survivors a voice and the means to educate others of what it’s like to live with a brain injury; to show others that persons living with a disability due to their brain injury are like anyone else, deserving of dignity, respect, compassion and the opportunity to prove their value as citizens in their respective communities. We had 25 people participate in the first mask making event. We have two more events that we will do in the coming year. The first one, we will be partnering with Parents reaching out to connect with families that have children with brain injury. The second will be an event in Gallup where we will partner with the San Juan Center for Independence with our target audience being Native Americans with brain injury.

4) I am aware that many veterans return with PTSD
(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) but how many return with some type of head injury or concussion?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the invisible wounds of war, and one of the signature injuries of troops wounded during war. In the year 2014 there were approximately 25,044 service members and veterans diagnosed with TBI.

5) How was this project received at the state capital?

The project was very well received at Disability Rights Awareness Day at the State Capital. There was so many people that I could tell were really moved when they read the stories and saw the masks.

6) I understand that KRQE also covered this event on their morning show. Who represented the BIRC on this event?

KRQE did a feature story on the project that aired on 01/17/2016 and
David Groover, a brain injury survivor, was interviewed for this and I represented the BIRC for this story. Then KRQE also covered this event on their morning show on 01/21/2016 and Ralph Frakes and I were interviewed for this as well. There was a third media story that was done by the UNM Health Science Center TV department and David Groover and Ginna Arnold were featured in that story as well.

7) Is there a link on line where readers can learn more or a link to the KRQE morning show?

Janelle and Ralph Frakes were also on the KRQE morning show:
KRQE Feature Story~ David Groover
~ The Health Sciences Center TV YouTube: David Groover and Ginna Arnold

8) What have I neglected to ask?

If there is anyone that needs information about brain injury, or resources please call the Brain Injury Resource Center at 1-855-849-0921. Also if anyone would like to a part of the project, they can call the BIRC and request a mask making kit. The national website also has a New Mexico link where all of the amazing masks can be seen and the powerful stories can be read at:


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