Acquired brain injury: Is it really the end? – Part 2

News Apr 15, 2016 by Jesse Ferguson Brant News

This story is in part dedicated to the memory of Josh Demeulenaere, who lived with an acquired brain injury. He passed away this past September in his 30th year from complications resulting from the injury. 

A novel by acquired brain injury survivor Kara Swanson called I’ll Carry the Fork includes several eye-popping facts about acquired brain injury that deserve attention.

The most disconcerting one, unquestionably, is that victims of brain injury do not necessarily recover. In fact, a full recovery is rare.

Other quick hits?

• Every 16 seconds a head injury is sustained in the United States.

• An injured person’s brain works two to three times as hard as an uninjured person’s and yet only produces half the output.

• A particularly devastating fact is that the maximum effort from the brain-injured individual doesn’t ensure maximum success for recovery.

• After the victim awakens – and not all do – they can be in for a long-term hospital stay as they attempt to repair their acquired deficiencies through therapies – such as physio and speech – or counselling sessions.

• Head injuries are the number one killer of Americans under 40 and they kill more people under the age of 34 than all diseases combined.

Kevin Anstee, an ABI case manager, reports that the most common method of injury is from motor vehicle accidents involving persons between the ages 18 and 25. I fit into both categories.

So do Josh Demeulenaere and Chris Burggraeve. We all lived around Brantford when the three of us, separately, fell victim to terrible weather at just the wrong time.

 ~

I don’t remember my accident, nor does Chris or did Josh.

“The first thing I remember is waking up and having my mom’s head on my chest,” Chris said. “And I think that was six weeks after. I didn’t know where I was.”

Josh took even longer before he was able to recollect or communicate.

“I think it was something like four months before I was able to say anything,” he said.

Kathryn Graham, a registered massage therapist at Hands-On Healing in Paris, explains: “I think when a traumatic incident occurs, the body doesn’t remember as a survival mechanism. If your brain held onto it cognitively, it would be too much with the trauma and emotion to handle. It has to focus on surviving.”

The three of us were told repeatedly how lucky we were. At first, I could not fathom how anyone could consider me lucky.

I had just been in a major car accident and had my whole physical repertoire  revoked, including walking and talking. Not so long ago, I had machines breathing for me through a trachea tube in my neck.

It was a shock, for sure, going from everything to nothing.

I get it now: lucky to be alive. It took a while to process, especially because I was an athlete, playing rep hockey (for Burford), high school basketball (for Paris), AAA baseball (for Brantford) and others.

I lived for sports, but I can’t play any of them anymore. The competitive spirit is combusting inside me, but I can’t extinguish it.

On the contrary, mentally, I retained all of my abilities from prior to the accident. For that, too, I am lucky… especially as this is a rarity among brain-injured persons. The other guys weren’t quite as fortunate in that respect.

As Dr. Flor Muniz of Chedoke Hospital explains: “Brain injury can sometimes be called a ‘hidden disability,’ as people have problems, but they don’t always show.”

Mentally, the most common problem resulting from brain injury is memory issues.

“It’s like my brain turns off at night,” Chris explains. “In the morning, I can’t always remember the day before.”

He leaves sticky notes around his house as reminders.

Josh said his injury was 50 per cent physical in the beginning, but became 90 per cent mental as he recovered physically. His father, Joe Demeulenaere, agrees with his assessment.

When Josh came home his memory problems were evident, as Joe reported that Josh once showered 16 times in one hour.

“He’d still be wet,” Joe recalled. “But he would forget and shower again.”

The physical issues for Chris and I are evident. Chris has difficulty walking and is inclined to use a cane. He used a walker previously and was earlier confined to a wheelchair, as was I.

Doctors said the left side of my brain had damage so extensive I would permanently lose physical capabilities. Upon my diagnosis, doctors told my parents I would never walk again.

None of the doctors that attended Chris, Josh or myself suggested that we would be much more than “vegetables” for the rest of our lives.

All three of our lives then, out of necessity, became about defiance of doctors’ expectations.

The Everlast song What It’s Like comes to mind: “God forbid you ever have to walk a mile in my shoes, ‘cause then you might really know what it’s like to have to lose.”

Read Part 3 of Jesse Ferguson’s story in next week’s edition of Brant News. Reach Jesse at lostprophet_04@hotmail.com.

Acquired brain injury: Is it really the end? – Part 2

The second instalment in a four-part series chronicling writer Jesse Ferguson’s experience living with an acquired brain injury.

News Apr 15, 2016 by Jesse Ferguson Brant News

This story is in part dedicated to the memory of Josh Demeulenaere, who lived with an acquired brain injury. He passed away this past September in his 30th year from complications resulting from the injury. 

A novel by acquired brain injury survivor Kara Swanson called I’ll Carry the Fork includes several eye-popping facts about acquired brain injury that deserve attention.

The most disconcerting one, unquestionably, is that victims of brain injury do not necessarily recover. In fact, a full recovery is rare.

Other quick hits?

Related Content

• Every 16 seconds a head injury is sustained in the United States.

• An injured person’s brain works two to three times as hard as an uninjured person’s and yet only produces half the output.

• A particularly devastating fact is that the maximum effort from the brain-injured individual doesn’t ensure maximum success for recovery.

• After the victim awakens – and not all do – they can be in for a long-term hospital stay as they attempt to repair their acquired deficiencies through therapies – such as physio and speech – or counselling sessions.

• Head injuries are the number one killer of Americans under 40 and they kill more people under the age of 34 than all diseases combined.

Kevin Anstee, an ABI case manager, reports that the most common method of injury is from motor vehicle accidents involving persons between the ages 18 and 25. I fit into both categories.

So do Josh Demeulenaere and Chris Burggraeve. We all lived around Brantford when the three of us, separately, fell victim to terrible weather at just the wrong time.

 ~

I don’t remember my accident, nor does Chris or did Josh.

“The first thing I remember is waking up and having my mom’s head on my chest,” Chris said. “And I think that was six weeks after. I didn’t know where I was.”

Josh took even longer before he was able to recollect or communicate.

“I think it was something like four months before I was able to say anything,” he said.

Kathryn Graham, a registered massage therapist at Hands-On Healing in Paris, explains: “I think when a traumatic incident occurs, the body doesn’t remember as a survival mechanism. If your brain held onto it cognitively, it would be too much with the trauma and emotion to handle. It has to focus on surviving.”

The three of us were told repeatedly how lucky we were. At first, I could not fathom how anyone could consider me lucky.

I had just been in a major car accident and had my whole physical repertoire  revoked, including walking and talking. Not so long ago, I had machines breathing for me through a trachea tube in my neck.

It was a shock, for sure, going from everything to nothing.

I get it now: lucky to be alive. It took a while to process, especially because I was an athlete, playing rep hockey (for Burford), high school basketball (for Paris), AAA baseball (for Brantford) and others.

I lived for sports, but I can’t play any of them anymore. The competitive spirit is combusting inside me, but I can’t extinguish it.

On the contrary, mentally, I retained all of my abilities from prior to the accident. For that, too, I am lucky… especially as this is a rarity among brain-injured persons. The other guys weren’t quite as fortunate in that respect.

As Dr. Flor Muniz of Chedoke Hospital explains: “Brain injury can sometimes be called a ‘hidden disability,’ as people have problems, but they don’t always show.”

Mentally, the most common problem resulting from brain injury is memory issues.

“It’s like my brain turns off at night,” Chris explains. “In the morning, I can’t always remember the day before.”

He leaves sticky notes around his house as reminders.

Josh said his injury was 50 per cent physical in the beginning, but became 90 per cent mental as he recovered physically. His father, Joe Demeulenaere, agrees with his assessment.

When Josh came home his memory problems were evident, as Joe reported that Josh once showered 16 times in one hour.

“He’d still be wet,” Joe recalled. “But he would forget and shower again.”

The physical issues for Chris and I are evident. Chris has difficulty walking and is inclined to use a cane. He used a walker previously and was earlier confined to a wheelchair, as was I.

Doctors said the left side of my brain had damage so extensive I would permanently lose physical capabilities. Upon my diagnosis, doctors told my parents I would never walk again.

None of the doctors that attended Chris, Josh or myself suggested that we would be much more than “vegetables” for the rest of our lives.

All three of our lives then, out of necessity, became about defiance of doctors’ expectations.

The Everlast song What It’s Like comes to mind: “God forbid you ever have to walk a mile in my shoes, ‘cause then you might really know what it’s like to have to lose.”

Read Part 3 of Jesse Ferguson’s story in next week’s edition of Brant News. Reach Jesse at lostprophet_04@hotmail.com.

Acquired brain injury: Is it really the end? – Part 2

The second instalment in a four-part series chronicling writer Jesse Ferguson’s experience living with an acquired brain injury.

News Apr 15, 2016 by Jesse Ferguson Brant News

This story is in part dedicated to the memory of Josh Demeulenaere, who lived with an acquired brain injury. He passed away this past September in his 30th year from complications resulting from the injury. 

A novel by acquired brain injury survivor Kara Swanson called I’ll Carry the Fork includes several eye-popping facts about acquired brain injury that deserve attention.

The most disconcerting one, unquestionably, is that victims of brain injury do not necessarily recover. In fact, a full recovery is rare.

Other quick hits?

Related Content

• Every 16 seconds a head injury is sustained in the United States.

• An injured person’s brain works two to three times as hard as an uninjured person’s and yet only produces half the output.

• A particularly devastating fact is that the maximum effort from the brain-injured individual doesn’t ensure maximum success for recovery.

• After the victim awakens – and not all do – they can be in for a long-term hospital stay as they attempt to repair their acquired deficiencies through therapies – such as physio and speech – or counselling sessions.

• Head injuries are the number one killer of Americans under 40 and they kill more people under the age of 34 than all diseases combined.

Kevin Anstee, an ABI case manager, reports that the most common method of injury is from motor vehicle accidents involving persons between the ages 18 and 25. I fit into both categories.

So do Josh Demeulenaere and Chris Burggraeve. We all lived around Brantford when the three of us, separately, fell victim to terrible weather at just the wrong time.

 ~

I don’t remember my accident, nor does Chris or did Josh.

“The first thing I remember is waking up and having my mom’s head on my chest,” Chris said. “And I think that was six weeks after. I didn’t know where I was.”

Josh took even longer before he was able to recollect or communicate.

“I think it was something like four months before I was able to say anything,” he said.

Kathryn Graham, a registered massage therapist at Hands-On Healing in Paris, explains: “I think when a traumatic incident occurs, the body doesn’t remember as a survival mechanism. If your brain held onto it cognitively, it would be too much with the trauma and emotion to handle. It has to focus on surviving.”

The three of us were told repeatedly how lucky we were. At first, I could not fathom how anyone could consider me lucky.

I had just been in a major car accident and had my whole physical repertoire  revoked, including walking and talking. Not so long ago, I had machines breathing for me through a trachea tube in my neck.

It was a shock, for sure, going from everything to nothing.

I get it now: lucky to be alive. It took a while to process, especially because I was an athlete, playing rep hockey (for Burford), high school basketball (for Paris), AAA baseball (for Brantford) and others.

I lived for sports, but I can’t play any of them anymore. The competitive spirit is combusting inside me, but I can’t extinguish it.

On the contrary, mentally, I retained all of my abilities from prior to the accident. For that, too, I am lucky… especially as this is a rarity among brain-injured persons. The other guys weren’t quite as fortunate in that respect.

As Dr. Flor Muniz of Chedoke Hospital explains: “Brain injury can sometimes be called a ‘hidden disability,’ as people have problems, but they don’t always show.”

Mentally, the most common problem resulting from brain injury is memory issues.

“It’s like my brain turns off at night,” Chris explains. “In the morning, I can’t always remember the day before.”

He leaves sticky notes around his house as reminders.

Josh said his injury was 50 per cent physical in the beginning, but became 90 per cent mental as he recovered physically. His father, Joe Demeulenaere, agrees with his assessment.

When Josh came home his memory problems were evident, as Joe reported that Josh once showered 16 times in one hour.

“He’d still be wet,” Joe recalled. “But he would forget and shower again.”

The physical issues for Chris and I are evident. Chris has difficulty walking and is inclined to use a cane. He used a walker previously and was earlier confined to a wheelchair, as was I.

Doctors said the left side of my brain had damage so extensive I would permanently lose physical capabilities. Upon my diagnosis, doctors told my parents I would never walk again.

None of the doctors that attended Chris, Josh or myself suggested that we would be much more than “vegetables” for the rest of our lives.

All three of our lives then, out of necessity, became about defiance of doctors’ expectations.

The Everlast song What It’s Like comes to mind: “God forbid you ever have to walk a mile in my shoes, ‘cause then you might really know what it’s like to have to lose.”

Read Part 3 of Jesse Ferguson’s story in next week’s edition of Brant News. Reach Jesse at lostprophet_04@hotmail.com.