The journey to recovery

Mar. 22, 2012

Recent media attention has alerted people to brain injuries caused by concussions in hard-hitting sports. But about 10 -15 per cent of people who sustain relatively minor head injuries end up with lasting symptoms.

For Sherry Zettler, a twenty-eight year old preschool resource teacher, her first concussion was sustained in 2008 when she was hit on the head with a baseball. In the following years she sustained more concussions from a treadmill bar falling on her head, bumping her head getting into a car and being head-butted by a small child. These seemingly harmless incidents combined into challenging issues for Sherry.

After each concussion the symptoms subsided when Sherry rested, but once she resumed her normal activities severe migraine headaches, vertigo, fatigue, and speech and vision issues returned with a vengeance. 

With MRIs and CAT scans showing no brain damage, Sherry began questioning herself.  She knew her health was unraveling, but it wasn’t until she was referred her to Parkwood Hospital’s Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) program for treatment for ongoing post-concussion symptoms that she got the answers she’d been seeking for so long.

“The day I first met with the team at Parkwood was the best day ever,” Sherry says. “I finally had hope.” Now Sherry gets her exercise fix through a walking program, takes regular rests, and uses the tools and skills she learned at Parkwood to take control of her situation.

To help others with an ABI learn skills to manage their lives, Parkwood is offering an eight-week videoconference series from March 27 to May 8.  During this series brain injury survivors like Sherry share their journey to recovery, and brain injury rehabilitation therapists share their expertise.

Members of the media are invited to speak with Sherry to learn how she is coping with her ABI, and with an ABI therapist to learn how the videoconference series is helping others with an ABI find the strategies, hope and support to live their lives to the fullest.
Where: Parkwood Hospital, 801 Commissioners Road East, London
When: March 21 from 9:30 to 10:30

Please see the backgrounder below for information on ABIs, and the ABI services offered at St. Joseph’s Parkwood Hospital.

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For more information, please contact:
Anne Kay, Communication and Public Affairs
St. Joseph’s Health Care, London
Phone: 519 685-4292, ext. 42470
Pager 519 649-9238

Backgrounder – Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s ABI Program

St. Joseph’s Health Care London offers the following acquired brain injury services at Parkwood Hospital:

  • ABI inpatient unit
  • ABI outpatient services
  • ABI outreach services
  • Driving Assessment and Rehab Program
  • Neurobehavioural Rehabilitation Centre
  • Neurotrauma Rehabilitation

For more information: http://www.sjhc.london.on.ca/abi

Brain Injury Facts

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is caused by traumatic and non-traumatic events that injure the brain.

  1. The leading causes of brain injury are: falls, motor vehicle accidents, being struck by or striking a hard object, assaults or violence, blasts or explosions
  2. Groups with the highest risk factors for traumatic brain injury include:
       - Males - about 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a brain injury
       - Young children or teenagers - especially infants to 4-year-olds and 15–19-year-olds
       - Certain military personnel - for example, paratroopers
  3. Acquired brain injury commonly leads to a change in neuron activity. This change affects one or more areas including cognition, speech-language communication, memory, attention and concentration, reasoning, abstract thinking, physical functions, psychosocial behavior, and information processing.
  4. In Canada:
       - approximately 50,000 people per year are hospitalized with brain injuries.
       - over 11,000 people die as a result of a traumatic brain injury (over 4,000 will die in Ontario alone).
  5. Brain Injury can vary from mild (concussion) to severe (deep coma). Depending on the severity of the injury, some may recover after a period of rest. Others will require a lifetime of support. Annually, over 6,000 Canadians become permanently disabled after a traumatic brain injury.

The Human Brain

  • is about 2% of your body weight, approximately 14cm wide, 17cm long and 9cm high and is made up of approximately 75% water
  • generates more electrical impulses in one day than all of the worlds’ telephones put together

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