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Family creates local support group to help survivors of traumatic brain injuries

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When Anaeis Issakhani was hit by a car while walking in Sunland two years ago, she suffered a traumatic brain injury that was so severe doctors told her family she had a 1% chance of survival.

Even if she lived, her family was told that Issakhani’s chances of living a normal life were slim.

“They said even if she survives, she’s going to be a vegetable,” recalled her sister, 31-year old Lucy Issakhani Dersarkissian.

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The accident left Issakhani in a coma for a month and a half, but her family could see that she was improving.

Six months after the accident, Issakhani began to talk again.

The 27-year old had been working as a hair stylist in Glendale, and today, she is still on the road to recovery, hopeful to return to her career if she can regain use of the left side of her body.

Two weeks ago, she began walking without a cane.

As Issakhani continues to improve, she and her family decided to create their own support group to link up with other survivors of traumatic brain injuries and their families.

The group, known as Survivors Squad, will host its first monthly meeting on Tuesday in Burbank, and it will aim to serve younger survivors.

“When you go through a tragedy like that, your entire life changes. Even though you have your family around, and you can talk to them, it’s not the same thing,” said Issakhani Dersarkissian, who often tells her sister that much of her former life is behind her.

“Your old self is gone forever. It’s never going to be there. You have to start a brand-new life,” she said.

Even so, her sister’s improvement has become more than what her family ever expected, and her sister is “very motivated,” she said, adding: “Sometimes you forget that she has a brain injury.”

Survivors Squad will meet from 5 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday. For more information, including the location, email survivors_squad@yahoo.com or visit the group’s Facebook page at Survivors Squad: Moving Towards Healing Together.

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Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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