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Every Cyclist’s Nightmare: Recovering From A Serious Brain Injury
April 3, 2013
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Robert Wein (Photo courtesy Robert)

In 2009, five cyclists were hit by a minivan while they were out riding in Kanata (in broad daylight, in a designated bike lane). One of them was Robert Wein, and he ended up in a coma.

At the time he was hit, Robert was an athlete in the best shape of his life.

But the accident left him with a serious abdominal injury, a collapsed lung, a broken rib, and severe road rash on his lower legs and right arm.

He also had a life-threatening brain injury.

After three weeks in a sedative-induced coma, Robert woke up (luckily, all of the people who were hit - including Robert's girlfriend Cathy Anderson - survived). Physically, he was weakened by the accident, and his brain injury had caused damage to his short-term memory and motor control.

Now Robert's working to raise awareness about acquired brain injury - brain damage caused by events after birth - and the people who live with it.

In 2011, the federal government declared June "Brain Injury Awareness Month" across Canada, and on June 15, Robert and more than 100 others will take part in the "Conquer Acquired Brain Injury (CABI) Walk" in Ottawa.

Strombo.com asked him what message he'd like to share with people about those who are living with brain injury.

"The message is that those that have received an acquired brain injury may need a bit more help than others, but they're still people," he wrote via email. "If they feel that they need help, they'll ask for it.

"If you see an individual with an acquired brain injury, please wait until they ask for help, and don't just do whatever you think is best."

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Some of the walkers from last year's event (Photo courtesy Robert Wein)

All proceeds from the walk will be donated to "Pathways to Independence" to fund a planned local resource centre and residence for 5 individuals with severe brain injuries.

Pathways specializes in supporting people with acquired brain injury - Robert told us about the plans for the residence.

"The new centre is a safe residence that will provide housing for 5 individuals whose acquired brain injury is of the magnitude that they're unable to live on their own safely," he wrote.

It's the second year the CABI Walk has taken place, with Robert hosting both years.

robert-wein-germany.jpgWhile many of the walkers will be in Ottawa, Robert's friends and supporters will also send in photographs from across the globe to show their solidarity with the CABI cause.

"The outside-Ottawa walks were organized over the internet, and were done by people that were friends from school when I was young, university friends and the like," he told Strombo.com.

Some of those friends sent in pictures during last year's walk. Check out Robert's online album of photos from last year's march, with some of those shots.

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A pair of international walkers (Photo courtesy Robert Wein)

These days, Robert is still working through the injuries he received in 2009. The Ottawa Citizen wrote about Robert in October, 2011, reporting that his brain injury has resulted in a weakened left arm and leg, as well as problems in the left side of his body and double vision. He told us he's working on living with his brain injury.

"The challenges that were in the paper are the way that I am, and won't disappear," he wrote. "I can minimize their effects, but not remove them entirely."

On the plus side, his vision has improved to the point where he can enjoy the latest cinematic trend.

"My eyes have improved significantly since that story came out, so much so that I am able to wear 3D glasses in the theatre, and have the effect work," he told us.

To read more about Robert's experiences with acquired brain injury, check out his My Journey to Recovery blog. And to find out about the CABI Walk, check out the Running Room's registration page.

It kicks off at 10 am in Ottawa's Andrew Haydon Park on Saturday, June 15.

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