Brain injury clubhouse needs more space

February 18, 2010 9:56:39 AM PST
Ten years ago a worldwide clubhouse for people with brain injuries opened in the Chicago area. It provides a wide range of post-rehabilitation work and independent living skills to individuals with different brain injuries.

The Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse in Chicago has 75 active members from the ages of 20 to 73. The clubhouse needs more funding and a new location in order to accommodate their growing population.

Twenty-seven-year old Andrew David Wagner has seen great improvements since coming to the clubhouse.

"I was in Iraq in Baghdad, and I was in a couple explosions in Iraq," Wagner said. "Traumatic brain injury, so I came back and was at Hines Hospital going to outpatient, speech pathology there at Hines just trying to work on my memory and focus and things like that.

"I had just started school when I came to the clubhouse. It certainly gives me a reason to get out of my apartment, to get up; it gives me somewhere to go."

Deborah Giesler is the person responsible for getting the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse.

"The great part about clubhouse is that this is their own program, so if they need to be here six months to finalize and fine tune some return-to-work skill, that's what they can do. If they need to be here eight years because they're not able to return to work or be home alone yet, they are continuing to learn other skills, they can be here as long as they need," said Giesler.

Harvey Williams had a brain aneurysm in 1991 at the age of 39. He comes to the clubhouse four times a week.

"I love this clubhouse, because it gives us a place to come to where we can relate to people who have gone through certain things that we've gone through in a way," Williams said.

With the growing population, the clubhouse needs more funding and new space.

"This space has been good, but we need a little bit different space, and we'd like to put in a kitchen so that we can continue with the meal preparation, because that was something everybody loved to do," said Giesler.

"Our budget is $275,000 per year," Giesler said. "We have a small staff, but in some ways that's good because the members have to participate."

"Right now I'm working on calling, making phone calls to local companies to try to help raise resources for the clubhouse, because we rely mostly on community support to keep the doors open," said Wagner.

Not only are more young adults are having strokes, more veterans are in need of services from the Clubhouse.

For more information go to and There is a daily cost between $45 to $75 per person to be part of this program.