Toronto non-profit agency offers help to people living with brain injuries

A small group of people living with brain injuries gathered at a Brain Injury Society of Toronto non-profit agency workshop on Saturday to learn how to cope with what they say is an invisible yet debilitating condition.

Participants learned various strategies to tackle trouble spots such as memory and fatigue

Occupational therapist Elke McLellan speaks at Saturday's workshop about the importance of self-care while recovering from a head injury. (CBC)

A small group of people living with brain injuries gathered at a Brain Injury Society of Toronto non-profit agency workshop in the city's Midtown area Saturday to learn how to cope with what they say is an invisible yet debilitating condition.

The event, which was held at Christ Church Deer Park near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue East, focused on helping post-secondary students affected by brain injuries build connections with one another.

Agency experts pointed out the importance of self-care and stress management. Participants also learned various strategies to tackle trouble spots, such as memory and fatigue.

"We're hosting this event to help students with tips and resources so they can be prepared and be as successful as they can be," said Melissa Vigar, executive director of the Brain Injury Society of Toronto. 

Getting back to routine can be difficult , some say

Journalist Charmaine Noronha attended Saturday's event because after a year of recovery, she says, returning to work was a challenge.

Last July, Noronha was outside a downtown yoga studio, spotting a partner who was doing a handstand, when the woman was blinded by her T-shirt and accidentally struck her in her jaw.

"I had no idea I was concussed," Noronha said. "It's been over a year, and I'm still symptomatic." 
Charmaine Noronha explains she had difficulty finding community support for individuals with a head injury. (CBC)

Noronha explains she's noticed migraines, nausea, brain fog, memory loss, sudden vomiting and problems concentrating and focusing after the injury. 

Occupational therapist Elke McLellan says there are ways to tell if you've had a concussion.

"An impact to your head or neck can jostle the brain," she said. "If you're playing sports and fall down or see stars and even black out, you've likely had a concussion."

Recoveries may be challenging

Recoveries are possible but may be challenging. While individual recovery times range, adolescents face added stress with demanding schedules and added responsibilities which can challenge recovery from a concussion.

"The brain affects how we act, feel and behave. The best thing to do after a head injury is to temporarily rest [and] plan to gradually get back into your day-to-day activities," McLellan added.
A recent study suggests a hit to the head...even without a concussion... may cause future brain damage. Our House Doctor, Raj Bhardwaj is here to talk about the implications for athletes. 7:17

Saturday's event was among several quarterly workshops held by the Brain Injury Society of Toronto for those affected by brain injury. 

The organization says it aims to provide education, awareness, advocacy and support to adults, young people and caregivers.