Nova Scotia

Cape Breton father says daughter with brain injury needs rehab

Richard Young is fighting to get his 37-year-old daughter Lindsay Young rehabilitative care after she suffered a brain injury in a car crash in 2004.

Richard Young wants to know, 'What did Lindsay do to deserve this?'

Richard Young wants his daughter Lindsay to receive rehab for a brain injury she suffered back in 2004. (Submitted by Richard Young)

Richard Young is fighting to get his 37-year-old daughter Lindsay Young rehabilitative care after she suffered a brain injury in a car crash in 2004. Young says despite numerous requests, the Nova Scotia Health Authority refuses to offer his daughter any rehab. 

"A lot of times I'm going around with knots in my stomach, you know like, 'God, like what did Lindsay do to deserve this?' She shouldn't just be living the life that she's living now when I know, with help from a rehabilitation centre, she could be living better," said Young.  

Lindsay is a former teacher who taught English in Asia and loved travelling. Since the accident, she needs 24-hour care and now lives at the Taigh Na Mara nursing home in Glace Bay. Lindsay is confined to a wheelchair. She can't walk or talk and has a feeding tube.

Young said Lindsay received rehab for a couple of years while she was in the hospital, but all that stopped when she was moved into the nursing home.

"They just stopped doing anything for her, but they didn't tell me anything. It was up to me to figure it all out. Things kept falling by the wayside like speech therapy and trips to different rehabs. It was kind of rough," he said.  

When Young asks for different rehab options now, he says he's told those opportunities aren't available for his daughter.

"It's like she's marked, you know? Like as soon as they find out it's Lindsay Young they say, 'no she's not entitled to that,'" said Young. 

Nursing homes generally don't offer rehab

The Nova Scotia Health Authority won't talk about specific patients due to privacy concerns, but the authority could discuss what rehab programs it does offer to people in nursing homes. 

"The focus is to provide a home for the person, not specifically rehabilitation," said Greg Boone a spokesman with the Nova Scotia Health Authority's Eastern Division. 

"When a person first comes to, or moves into a nursing home, they're medically stable and at that time rehabilitation options would have already been explored and the decision likely made that the person is not a candidate for rehabilitation," Boone said.   

Boone said it's then up to the doctors and clinical staff in a nursing home to give people with the best quality of life possible. However, there are some situations where the health authority will work with residents and their families to provide additional care beyond what's generally provided in nursing homes.

Young said he's been refused when he has asked for that extra care for his daughter.  

"If anyone has concerns we certainly welcome the input," said Boone. "But they should focus the discussion with the resident's family physician or primary health care provider."

Hope of rehabilitation 

Young said Lindsay is struggling with a diffuse axonal brain injury.

A diffuse axonal injury is an element of post-traumatic brain injury syndrome. Axonal injuries take place after an impact to the head. It involves the brain's axons being stretched or sheared off. Axons transmit information in the brain and damaging them can lead to a wide range of symptoms, according to Dr. Hugh Mirolo.  

"Basically it can affect anything you can think of because the brain has so many functions," said Mirolo. 

Mirolo, a neuropsychiatrist who specializes in brain injuries, runs the Centre for Neuropsychiatric Sciences in St. John's. He has not examined Lindsay but has dealt with many cases like hers.   

"The possibility of treatment is there for as long as you're alive basically. But in the clinic, I give priority to young people and the degree of emergency. If you are young, you have priority because they are the ones who can gain the most and lose the most." 

Mirolo believes Lindsay should be referred to his clinic so that she can get specialized treatment. 

"I don't want to give people false expectations. It takes a lot of work, a lot of sweat  and quite a lot of sacrifice. But neuroplasticity is the light at the end of the tunnel. You can have your brain reconstitute itself if you give the right medications, avoid the wrong ones and do the right dos and avoid the don'ts." 

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