Nfld. & Labrador

In wake of tragic ATV accident, new program launched for help with brain injuries

In the wake of a tragic ATV accident in Trout River, the Newfoundland and Labrador Brain Injury Association is launching a new subsidized counselling program for victims and families.
Jeremy Crocker wasn't wearing a helmet when he was critically injured in an ATV crash last month. (Submitted by Jennifer Crocker)

In the wake of a tragic ATV accident in Trout River, the Newfoundland and Labrador Brain Injury Association (NLBIA) is launching a new subsidized counseling program to help provide a range of services for injured people and their families.

Jeremy Crocker suffered severe brain trauma after an ATV accident last month, and remains in a medically induced coma and on life support at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's.

His future is uncertain and doctors have said Jeremy may never regain consciousness.

'It can be a really lonely place'

Angie Smith, the co-ordinator of programs and services with NLBIA, says she knows first-hand some of the struggles families and patients face.

Support is really, really important for people going through this situation — it can be a really lonely place.- Angie Smith

About 10 years ago she suffered from a neurological dysfunction called hypertensive encephalopathy.

She has recovered, but said that brain injury symptoms can still present themselves even after an 80 or 90 per cent recovery.

Smith said regardless of the severity, dealing with an injury becomes a lifelong battle for everyone involved — which is why the NLBIA's new program is needed.

"We will help people find what they need to find," Smith told CBC's On the Go.

"Support is really, really important for people going through this situation — it can be a really lonely place, especially for the caregivers and families, survivors when they come home."

In a release from the NLBIA, it states that brain injuries are the largest cause of death and disability in the province for people under the age of 44.

Smith said this exceeds the numbers of deaths and disabilities from things such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and all other illnesses combined.

What people need

Jeremy Crocker's wife and children will face a lot of challenges because of his accident. The NLBIA hopes their new program will help. (Submitted by Jennifer Crocker)

For families like the Crockers, Smith said one of the biggest issues they face is access to programs and services for mental health.

She said adjusting to life with a disability is similar to grief or loss and recovery comes in stages, which can require many different services.

'We've arranged … to have counselors that we can match clients with for their particular needs.' - Angie Smith

The regional health boards in the province provide the main source of counselling and programs, and Smith added they come with long wait lists.

The NLBIA's counseling subsidy hopes to alleviate that wait time by providing subsidized counseling for families with private practitioners.

"We've arranged throughout the entire province and Labrador to have counselors that we can match clients with for their particular needs," said Smith.

Smith added that families can go through major life changes during this time, such as loss of income, having to move or just adjusting to a new way of life when sharing a home with and injured person.

The NLBIA receives some funding from the provincial government, but Smith said most is acquired through fundraising events like their upcoming family skate, which is scheduled for Sunday at The Glacier in Mount Pearl.

The event will also highlight the importance of safety and wearing helmets, said Smith.

While their daughter Hailey misses having mom and dad at home, she wants Jennifer to stay with Jeremy in St. John's so her dad isn't alone. (Submitted by Jennifer Crocker)

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