Spotlight for June
In light of Brain Injury Awareness month we are spotlighting someone who has beat her odds and surprised her doctors in how far she has come.
Michelle Bartlett was working successfully in the insurance world and on her way to obtain her Fellow Life Management Institute (FLMI) designation when her life took a complete turn. She had a virus that attacked her heart causing damage to it. Shortly after this, she and her husband decided it was the right time to have children. In order for them to do this safely, her doctors told her she would need to have open heart surgery to repair one valve and replace another one that had been damaged from the virus. The surgery went well, however, 2 days later is when her life had completely changed.
For reasons they were never able to explain, her heart stopped, causing anoxia, which is loss of oxygen to her brain. It took them a great amount of time to stabilize her and she slipped into a coma. Michelle remained in a coma for 10-12 days and the doctors decided it was time to send her to palliative care. Her family had lost hope and thought they would be planning her funeral until a friend of hers got a response from her as she was brushing her hair.
She slowly came out of the coma. When she did she had to be put into a neurological unit and rehab to re-learn how to do everything. The few minutes her brain had lost oxygen caused severe damage to her brain. Michelle said ‘At age 36, I was like a baby. I couldn’t eat, talk or walk. Everything had to be re-learned.’
The Next Chapter
After several weeks of rehabilitation Michelle was able to return home. Intense speech, physical and occupational therapy was required. It took well over a year for her to regain her new normalcy. Her memory, left side of her body and eye sight were affected. According to Michelle, ‘Having a traumatic brain injury requires your brain to cognitively take everything step by step. Things such as: walk to the car, press the button to unlock the door, get in car, now put the key in the ignition and so on. The automatic switch doesn’t happen anymore.’
This makes your brain work much harder than someone who hasn’t had a brain injury. It requires more time for them to do things we would normally take for granted and causes a lot of fatigue. Per Michelle, ’Think of your brain as a battery. A normal person is able to continually recharge theirs throughout the day. Someone with a brain injury has no battery recharge.’ This makes her day harder and limited in what she can do.
Michelle has come further than any medical professional ever expected. They all thought she would be in a nursing home. She now volunteers and advocates for the Brain Injury Association of Canada, a peer support group for people recovering from a brain injury. This group was started by Cecile Proctor, who has also been affected by traumatic brain injury when her mother was involved in a car accident.
Cecile’s mother had her accident in 2008. She found that individuals with traumatic brain injuries need more mental health resources. Per Cecile ‘A lot of people fall in the middle. They don’t qualify for inpatient services but they can’t work either’. Michelle agreed indicating ‘I was left with a lot of deficits but when you look at me, you don’t see it. You only get services if there is a physical disability, not a cognitive one’.
Per Cecile ‘People with traumatic brain injuries still have something to give’. She has focused on bringing new outlets such as art to help them express themselves. But more services are needed, especially in New Brunswick where Cecile and Michelle reside.
According to Brain Injury Canada, a brain injury is the number one cause of death and disability worldwide among children, youth and individuals under the age of 44. Over 1MM Canadians suffer the effects of traumatic brain injury. (1) About 50% of all brain injuries are from falls or car accidents Nationwide. (2). If you would like to learn more about this support organization or how you can help, please contact Cecile: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) Brain Injury Canada: https://www.braininjurycanada.ca
(2) Brain Injury Canada: https://www.braininjurycanada.ca/acquired-brain-injury/
Statistics On Traumatic Brain Injury: Including The Work Place
Brain injury has been reported to be one of the most dangerous injuries you can suffer. In Canada, it’s more common than spinal cord injury, breast cancer, and HIV/AIDS. The occurrence rate is higher than all of those combined.
At least 165,000 serious brain injuries have been reported each year in Canada. That’s 452 people per day, and 1 person every 3 minutes.
The leading cause of death or disability for Canadians under the age of 40 is a brain injury. This is especially true for those who are involved in physical sports or rigorous activities.
The leading causes of brain injury in Canada are as follows:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and falls
- Bicycle accidents
- Injuries in the workplace
- Sports, activities, or physical altercations/assault
- Medical conditions
- Poison or toxins
By 2020, it’s estimated that traumatic brain injury is going to be one of the leading causes of death and disability
Many people who experience serious traumatic brain injuries aren’t able to return to full- time employment. In Ontario alone, 92% of men and 100% of women suffering from a brain injury never return to full time work.
According to the Northern Brain Injury Association, ‘The horrifying reality is that 90% of all of those injuries would never have happened to begin with, if we had simply invested money into education and prevention’. [ctt template=”5″ link=”O0Dq1″ via=”no” ]According to the Northern Brain Injury Association, ‘The horrifying reality is that 90% of all of those injuries would never have happened to begin with, if we had simply invested money into education and prevention’. [/ctt]
They state the only known cure for brain injury is prevention. Even a minor brain injury, like a mild concussion, can lead to recurring issues. This can turn into more serious issues if it doesn’t go away on its own.
For employers, educating yourself and your employees is key. Know what can cause a brain injury, what the symptoms are and get treated immediately.
Health Benefits To The Approaching Summer
We can feel the sun on our face and it brings excitement and joy every time we realize that summer is almost here. It is by far my favorite season. Being able to shed winter layers for flip flops and shorts is what I look forward to every single year. Some of the great things about summer are of the many but high on that list are the health benefits it offers. Below we have shared some of those:
Fresh Fruits & Vegetables – Doesn’t it seem like we associate winter with heavy, comfort food? But when summer approaches and we start to shed the extra layers, heavy meals suddenly don’t seem as appetizing but the colorful fruits and vegetables do. That is because the summer heat drives our hunger down as our bodies do not need to expend as much energy to keep us warm. It tells our minds we only need something lighter to sustain us.
Fruits and vegetable look so much more vibrant in the summer. I am more apt to grab a piece of fruit as a snack now than I would in the winter based on esthetics alone. It’s also time for the local Farmer’s Market’s to open back up with vendors presenting their organic, wholesome, fresh food. While some are open during the winter, the summer months present more excitement and color.
More Opportunities for Exercise – There is nothing worse than sitting behind a desk and staring outside to the beautiful sun shinning, envious of those out there enjoying it. The sluggish feeling of winter fades and we are suddenly energized making us more productive, even at work. This also affects the way we exercise.
People naturally want to be outside. Summer gives us more options on how and where to exercise. Not everyone is a gym rat. That can seem like a daunting, monotonous task but summer opens doors to activities that people love to do. Things like gardening, mowing the lawn, hiking/walking, riding a bike, playing a game or sport with our children/grandchildren or swimming. And what happens when you are in the sun and exercise or work outside? You sweat! Sweating detoxifies your body, which is another excellent health benefit.
More Vitamin D – Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins in our body for optimal health. It strengthens our immune system, can play a role in cancer prevention, strengthens our bones, speeds up metabolism and improves the overall emotional health. The easiest way to get a significant amount of Vitamin D is through the sun. We are meant to get 80% there and only 20% through diet. [ctt template=”5″ link=”pyuW0″ via=”no” ]The easiest way to get a significant amount of Vitamin D is through the sun. We are meant to get 80% there and only 20% through diet. [/ctt] When exposed to the sun, our Vitamin D is replenished and stored.
Over the years, with more awareness of the dangers of too much sun, we have been taught to block the rays out with sun screen. People are also working more hours keeping them indoors and shielded them from the rays. Due to this, many now suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency.
Having a Vitamin D deficiency can cause you to have bone pain, muscle cramps, stooped posture, loss in height and weakness and tingling. During the summer months it is easier to store up on your Vitamin D. After coming off Melanoma Awareness Month we wouldn’t suggest you to disregard the yields to applying sun screen, but newer research has shown that exposing your body to a little bit of sunshine can actually be good for you.
Overall Feel Good Attitude – Have you ever wondered why you instantly feel good when you see the sun? That is because it boosts your level of serotonin, which is the body’s natural happy hormone. [ctt template=”5″ link=”T2y21″ via=”no” ]Have you ever wondered why you instantly feel good when you see the sun? That is because it boosts your level of serotonin, which is the body’s natural happy hormone.[/ctt] Summer time offers us longer days and more opportunity for the sun to shine. Having the extra daylight gives us more time to be outside and possibly get outdoor exercise in. This can produce the happy endorphins more so than if you exercised indoors. Regular sun has also been known to halt moderate depression. There are individuals that have an illness called Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), which is normally present during the fall and winter months. Once summer arrives, it magically disappears.
Vacation! – Nothing rejuvenates your spirit and mental health like a vacation. Taking a vacation, whether it’s a quick 3-4 day weekend get-away or a week off, can be beneficial to your overall well-being. Summer presents more time for people to take time off work and spend it with their families. Studies have shown over and over that stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure. Making the time to take a vacation not only gives you a break from the normal stressors of daily life but it can strengthen your relationships by spending quality time together.
Summer is often a short lived season in Canada. Make the most of it by watching less TV, putting the devices down and getting outside to explore all of the wonderful things available to us. A little bit of sunshine can go a long way!