ON TOUR: Belinda's Big Bus hits Bundaberg to spread the brain injury message.
ON TOUR: Belinda's Big Bus hits Bundaberg to spread the brain injury message. Craig Warhurst

En route with brain message

A BIG purple bus rolled into the Rum City this week and driving it was a woman with a big heart.

Belinda Adams is on five-week tour down the east coast and up through the Northern Territory to raise awareness for more than two million Australians living with brain injuries.

The ambassador for Synapse, Belinda's journey is a deeply personal one.

Her 19-year-old son Dylan suffered a brain injury as the result of a car crash in 2012.

She's had the purple bus for four years but couldn't contemplate a national tour while her son was still recovering.

Five years on from the crash and Dylan has just been employed in the very hospital where he was treated.

Now Belinda is out to spread awareness and campaign for greater funding in post-hospital rehabilitation services.

"It's taken a very long time, but five years down the track he's now got his independence back,” Belinda said.

"We had to fight to get him recognised as having a disability last year so he could access disability services, and he needed that so he could find a job.

"He's just gone forwards in leaps and bounds since then.”

Belinda said awareness was crucial because often brain injuries were an "invisible disability”.

The trip has allowed her to connect with people in person and online through social media, where the same message keeps coming across: there's not enough help or understanding once the hospital stay is over.

"I'm one of the lucky ones and in my experience, I know how hard it was because there are only 26 beds in the rehabilitation unit in Brisbane and a lot of people didn't get to go to rehabilitation at all,” she said.

Those 26 beds service the entire state.

Which is why Belinda wants to see more funding for post-acute rehabilitation care, something she believes would reduce the load on the health care system in later years, for both carers and patients.

"If we had the rehabilitation places we need at the beginning, when it's the most optimal time for the person's recovery, then there wouldn't be the drain on the system at the end with so many people living on disability payments and carer payments,” she said.

"With a brain injury, you can build new pathways and you can continue to rehabilitate, but I think people are lacking the knowledge on how to help the carers. Better recovery can also take a weight off families.

"I just wanted to create a wave, to go from community to community.” Check out Belinda's Big Bus Facebook page fo rmoe information.

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