Specialists discuss the dangers of concussions at special panel event

May 4, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

The Headwaters Acquired Brain Injury Group, in partnership with their Peel-Halton-Dufferin counterparts, held a special information session and guest panel seminar on Tuesday evening designed to educate people about concussions.

The group, which typically meets in Orangeville once a month for sessions relating to different brain injuries, gathered for the panel which included speeches from eight different presenters, each giving their own unique views on the different possibilities and services available following a concussion diagnosis.

A pair of local physiotherapy consultants, an Orangeville occupational therapist, a community speech language pathologist, personal injury lawyer, clinical services manager with Peel Halton Dufferin Acquired Brain Injury Services and father-son duo, who have each suffered from concussions in the past, headed up the panel.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury typically caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Concussions are graded as mild (grade 1), moderate (grade 2), or severe (grade 3) depending on such factors as loss of consciousness, amnesia and loss of equilibrium. Symptoms and recovery time for concussions vary, but it is generally accepted that someone with a concussion will experience sensitivity to light and sound and become fatigued much quicker than usual. The general recovery time for most concussions is between 10 and 14 days.

Norman Phillips of the Headwaters Acquired Brain Injury Group shared the personal battle he has endured with a concussion over the past 18 months. During his speech he noted how every single concussion is different for each person and that even a slight one can be completely debilitating for an extended period of time.

“I sustained my injury on December 11, 2015 and still to this day, some 18 months later, I’m still experiencing symptoms. They’ve never truly gone away,” Mr. Phillips said. “I think the best way to describe a concussion is to say it’s painfully monotonous. I found that as long as I got the rest I needed, the next day I’d wake up and I’d feel like nothing ever happened, then a couple of hours later, after I’ve exerted myself, I’d be a walking basket case.”

He added, “By far the worst symptom for me was noise sensitivity. As soon as I started to feel anything even slightly out of the ordinary, I knew I needed to take a step back and relax. The main one was noise, but lights also affected me, an overload of information affected me. One year ago I couldn’t hold a general conversation, it was just too much. That’s the thing about concussions though – they’re different for everyone. You just have to do what you can do, but it does take its toll on the body. The only way to completely recuperate is to rest. Gets lots and lots of rest.”

Anna Cook, Clinical Services Manager with Peel-Halton-Dufferin Acquired Brain Injury Services, said the purpose of the panel was to “provide information to local residents about concussions in general and let them know about all the assistance that is available to them.” She discussed what her organization was currently doing to roll out concussion-related services to residents.

“We find there’s a lot of fear, confusion and misinformation out there with regards to concussions, so we’re really seeking to educate people because one thing that has been determined is that a lot of unknown factors and confusion can negatively impact someone’s prognosis. On the flip side, we also know added knowledge can positively improve an individual’s prognosis,” Ms. Cook said.

As such, the Peel-Halton-Dufferin chapter will be hosting two free concussion services workshops in Orangeville in the summer. Those events will be taking place at 695 Riddell Road in Orangeville on June 13 and 20, starting at 6 p.m. and running until 8 p.m.

“These workshops are designed to, again, spread education and knowledge. We’ll be talking about concussions and how they happen, what happens to the brain when they occur, recommended treatments, including potential long-term recovery plans. One of the things we realize is that a concussion can have both a psychological and mental effect on an individual, not just a physical, so we’ll be talking about how we can help people out there too.”

In the meantime, the Headwaters Acquired Brain Injury Services continues to meet on the first Tuesday of every month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 695 Riddell Road.

“We have a great group of people, and we’re always looking to add new potential members. All of our meetings are free of charge and are open to anybody, whether it be someone suffering with a concussion or brain related injury, a family member of an individual suffering with a concussion or brain related injury or just somebody hoping to learn more about brain related injuries in general,” Mr. Phillips said. “It’s a good opportunity to learn new things and meet new people in the community with the same interests as you.”

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