An Injury For Life by Liam O’Brien on RTÉ

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If there’s one thing I consume more than documentary movies, it’s radio documentaries. My visual system sometimes gets overloaded, or I get distracted from listening while I’m looking at a movie. So radio documentaries are the perfect thing to keep me constantly learning about other people, situations, societies and cultures.

Just today, I came across a 2009 radio documentary called “An Injury For Life.” It follows three men with brain injuries who live in assisted living homes run by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (called The Peter Bradley Foundation at the time of this program). The program is on RTÉ Radio 1 and can be found in iTunes and at www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/an_injury_for_life.html.

Let me tell you just a few of the things that make this radio piece so fantastic.

-We meet the people and hear about their current daily lives well before we hear how they received their injuries. We don’t always have that luxury of getting to know people before getting the crash story.

-They’re honest about how lack of services and social isolation affect the person with brain injury as well as their community.

-These lines “People with brain acquired injury are still people….[T]hey shouldn’t be ostracized from society.” If you’re reading this blog, you probably already agree with that. You might even take these ideas for granted. But the fact that someone feels the need to say it in a documentary is evidence of two extremely common problems:  the belief that we are not complete people (or that some of us are perpetual children) and that it’s not really a problem if some of us are segregated in communities where non-disabled people don’t ever interact with us unless it’s their job.

I keep coming across statements from strangers and acquaintances alike that when they feel like someone is being a nonsensical, self-centered jerk or unusually violent (such as a politician they don’t like) that it’s fine to flippantly say that obviously that politician just has a brain injury. Really? That’s what you think of my population? You’re using our lived experience as an insult. Side note: nonsensical, self-centered and violent doesn’t accurately describe us, yet that’s what people still say. And so that’s why documentaries such as “An Injury For Life” are so invaluable to share. It’s the chance to meet us.

And it’s a great radio piece talking about the idea of not just being alive but of really living.