Jodi House expands brain-injury help to SYV

SYV Star Staff

Group sessions in Solvang for brain-injury patients have been well received as Jodi House in Santa Barbara expands its services into the Santa Ynez Valley, according to Program Director Susan Cass.

“While Jodi House offers much-needed information, education and resources, one of the most valuable aspects of our organization is the network of support that we create for a brain-injury survivor as they navigate the unfamiliar, often challenging, road to recovery,” Cass said.

The mission of Jodi House is to empower brain-injury survivors not merely to survive, but to thrive. The organization was founded in 1982 by the parents of Jodi Wustman, a 19-year-old college student who was suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was struck by a drunk driver. After searching the community for rehabilitation and reintegration support and finding nothing, the Wustmans decided to start an organization of their own.

More than 35 years later, Jodi House is the leading nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties specifically serving brain-injury patients and their families. In 2015, the organization was selected as one of seven sites statewide to receive state funding for serving adults with traumatic brain injury, known as TBI.

“Through our programs in both Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley, Jodi House provides support and education to adult survivors of traumatic and acquired brain injury and their families,” Cass added.

Classes and activities are designed to encourage a person’s cognitive, physical and social rehabilitation. They include but are not limited to restorative yoga, memory strategies, communication skills, tai chi, mindfulness meditation and healthy cooking.

“When we heal from a broken bone, we look forward to the day the cast comes off or the doctor gives the all-clear to go back to your regular routine. With brain injury, there is no cast that comes off and there is no definite date that we can say our life is back to ‘normal.’ Many survivors feel the effects of their brain injury for months, years and decades after,” Cass said.

In addition, Jodi House also offers case management services in the tricounties. With the help of case managers, a survivor can receive help with anything from applying for disability benefits, finding housing or learning how to manage their finances.

“If a survivor is interested in returning to the workforce, we can support them in doing so by enrolling them in our Immersion Services program,” she said. “In everything we offer at Jodi House, our ultimate goal is to assist the survivor in successfully returning to his or her community at the highest possible level of functioning.”

Jodi House is based at 625 Chapala Street in Santa Barbara. It offers its local group sessions from noon to 2 p.m. every Thursday at Bethania Lutheran Church, 626 Atterdag Road in Solvang.

For more information, call Jodi House at 805-563-2882, ext. 3.