Canada: Acquired Brain Injury – Navigating The Waters And The Importance Of Self-Advocacy

Last Updated: July 11 2017
Article by Kaitlyn MacDonell

Acquired brain injuries are something that no one plans for. After a loved one has been impacted by a brain injury, often the signs of the brain injury are not apparent until much after the acute phase of healing.

May 4, 2017, marked the 10th anniversary for my family following my father's acquired brain injury.  He was attacked and beaten at random in my hometown. I remember the call, the panic and the fear of the unknown. As I entered his hospital room, I remember the sight of my father lying there in a coma. Although scared, I had hope that he would remain alive because when I spoke to him, he would squeeze my finger.

In the days that came after, my father would eventually awake out of his coma. We were so grateful that he could walk, talk and that he remembered who we were but had no recollection of the events that had taken place. He was quickly discharged home after he appeared to be stable.

In the months that followed, we were so thankful and focused on the fact that he was alive, we missed a lot of the signs. He also was not willing to admit that something was different, something was off and not right, and he would hide these changes from us. Eventually, we began to notice when driving with him that he would nearly miss the ditch, he would forget conversations we had with him earlier that day, and he began to fall at random times. Sooner or later, his emotions would overtake him and he would often cry uncontrollably and he would not be able to articulate why. We started to, in time, notice that he had difficulty finding his words, poor concentration, would often choke on his food and suffer from incontinence.

This is when we started asking questions. When we left the hospital, we were not told of the signs to look for with brain injury. We did not know what a brain injury was. My father at the time did not have the benefit of a motor vehicle insurer to assist with funding. We were left to navigate the waters and figure out what was going on our own.

Interestingly enough, the brain imaging never showed any changes in his brain initially. His MRI and ultrasounds came back negative. However, we knew that something was different. He was not the same and the symptoms he was presenting with were not things we had ever witnessed before.

With repeated cries for assistance, eventually my father was placed in a program for stroke victims at the hospital. Brain injury in the area where we lived was under serviced by the medical professionals and he had to travel an hour away to receive this treatment. With time, he was placed on a pilot project with Community Care Access Centre with an acquired brain injury team. He started to receive the assistance from an occupational therapist, behavioural therapist, a speech language therapist, as well as a rehab support worker and eventually personal support worker assistance. These therapies became and are invaluable. The assistance that these workers provide to my father and my family and their impact on our lives will never be able to put into words.

My father has not and will not be able to return to his job as an electrician at General Motors. He had to learn a new normal. Normal for him at 50 years old, when he acquired his brain injury, was a very different life than what he lived before. He became dependent on his wife and children to get around as his license was eventually revoked. Living in a rural community, this was difficult to adjust to. Once a handyman around the house, he had to learn that he had a lack of foresight and ability to understand safety risks. This put and still does put a significant strain on my mother who was and is his primary care giver.

He has good days and bad days. Some days he will be able to understand that he has a brain injury and that he now has limitations. On the bad days, he does not. This has resulted in two floods in our home as an outcome of him not understanding the consequences of what he was doing. Often I will come home to my mother completely exasperated because he will not leave the water system alone in our home. He truly believes what he knows what he is doing despite many catastrophes. He is a safety concern to himself and my mother must be watching what he is doing 24 hours per day.

Initially after this incident, his friends would drop by to see him. Over time, one by one, they would stop. Partly because their lives would take a different direction and partly because they would not know how to react to him. He would be able to walk, talk and he looked normal from the outside, but he was different. He was not the same guy.  My father went through periods of isolation, frustration and acceptance of this change.

On the date of the anniversary of my father's brain injury, I called him. I said to him, "Dad, do you know what today is", his answer was "the day I lost my brain". Although I believe my father was trying to bring levity to the situation, this really resonated with me. No matter how long it has been since the brain injury, the impacts are lifelong.

Since his initial brain injury, my father has suffered from vertigo which is involuntary falling. He has fallen twice and hit his head resulting in two subsequent brain injuries. He has since been diagnosed as suffering from early onset of dementia, although the impact of the brain injury cannot be divorced from this diagnosis.

It is with my father in mind that I do what I do. I help injured victims. The law in my father's case did not work in our favour. He did not have the benefit of an insurer to assist with his losses and further, the individuals who assaulted him received a pitiful criminal sentences. No matter what happened though, nothing can change the impact a brain injury has on one's life and one's family.

My father's brain injury changed the entire course of my life. I was initially planning on a career in genetic counselling and was working towards this when this incident happened. As a result of the direct impact this has had on my father and my family, I decided to go to law school. I had the opportunity to speak at the parole hearing of one of the individuals who assaulted my father and it was after that I told my mom, "I just made a small impact, I'm going to law school".

The brain injury association in our local city has assisted my father immensely following his brain injury. He is part of the day service and now has a routine of attending the association. This has given him purpose and allowed him to interact with others in similar situations. I now sit on the board and donate my time as a small token of my appreciation for the services they have provided to help my father.

It is important for individuals and families to appreciate the changes that loved ones go through following an acquired brain injury and receive the assistance of both a medical team as well as a legal team to help navigate the waters of the impact of the brain injury.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions