It's a message of hope, refined after more than a decade after sustaining life-altering brain injuries during a car wreck.

And this week, Jacksonville resident and motivational speaker Patti Foster is sharing her message with attendees of the 11th World Congress on Brain Injury at the International Brain Injury Association March 2-5 at The Hague, Netherlands. The event's theme is “Brain Injury: From Cell to Society.”

“I'll present multiple coping strategies of brain-injury for survivors and caregivers and families of the brain-injured, as they do their best to cope with the long-term deficits and adjustments of brain-injury,” she said.

Foster noted that “traumatic brain injury and acquired brain injury affect more than 2 million Americans each year –  a 'silent epidemic' that is increasingly growing.”

Her role is to let others – survivors, their families and caregivers – know “that there is HOPE after brain injury,” she said. “Keep trying. Don't give up. And ask for help, whether you're a survivor or caregiver.”

Foster was in a six-week coma following the June 2002 accident that killed a friend of hers, a fellow Jacksonville High School graduate.

While she has made a great recovery, Foster said she still experiences some problems with coordination and memory, and “I have to be careful of my balance and equilibrium; and cognitive challenges.”

However, she wants others to know her story.

“To me hope is a huge part, and yet it goes deeper than that –  my raw story and my faith of having to learn how to live again after tasting death has a way of making an individual to think about a deeper meaning of life and what really matters. Knowing that no matter what you go through, there is still hope,” she said.

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