After marking Brain Injury Awareness Week in past years with a lawn bowls tournament, Headway Illawarra and Illawarra Brain Injury Service thought they'd try something different this year: an archery contest.
Headway Illawarra chief executive officer John Roach admitted his clients, who have weekly archery sessions with the Illawarra Archery Club, had an advantage over the IBIS team but said their scores were adjusted to take that into account.
"It's very good therapy for them because it helps the hand-eye co-ordination and it makes the brain operate and they get a bit of satisfaction out of it," Mr Roach said.
IBIS operates out of Port Kembla Hospital and helps rehabilitate brain injury patients once they are out of intensive care, often after extensive surgery and months in a coma.
"If it is a severe injury, the brain forgets everything - forgets how to go to the toilet, forgets how to eat, forgets how to speak," Mr Roach said.
"And the memory is shot to pieces, you generally lose your memory and that stays for life."
Headway steps in once they have returned to their families - usually after 18 months of intense rehabilitation - offering day programs, support and advocacy for the person and their carers "for the rest of their life".
Nearly 1.4 million Australians have some form of acquired brain injury, sometimes called "the hidden disability".
"If they don't have visible scars, it may not be immediately obvious," Mr Roach said.
"People can't tell and then wonder why they get angry all of a sudden or why their memory isn't working."
The overwhelming majority of brain injuries - 75 per cent - are caused by "transport accidents". Of those, 75 per cent are aged 16 to 22 and are predominantly male.
"It's not just drivers but pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists," Mr Roach said.
"If you're not wearing a helmet and you come off heavily and hit the kerb, you can give yourself a terrible injury and there's no Band-Aid for the brain."
Sporting and industrial accidents, falls and strokes are other common causes of brain injuries, while an increasing percentage are caused by assaults.
"Street violence is a growing cause; it used to be about 4 per cent, it's now up to about 9 or 10 per cent," Mr Roach said.
"Not a week goes past that someone hasn't had their head kicked in or been king-hit at 3am and taken to hospital."