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

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

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
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
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.