Support crucial to concussion recovery

Courtney Mailhot, executive director of the Caribou Brain Injury Society presents Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook with a copy of Concussion Recovery: Rebuilding the Injured Brain, on Friday. - Monica Lamb-Yorski photo
Courtney Mailhot, executive director of the Caribou Brain Injury Society presents Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook with a copy of Concussion Recovery: Rebuilding the Injured Brain, on Friday.
— image credit: Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Most people don’t consider a concussion a brain injury.

“When it comes to terminology, the word concussion is more acceptable because it sounds sexy,” said Courtney Mailhot executive director of the Caribou Brain Injury Society.

Last week Mailhot presented a copy of Colleen Butler’s book, Concussion Recovery: Rebuilding the Injured Brain to the City of Williams Lake.

Butler was in Williams Lake recently giving a workshop to clients, caregivers and professionals dealing with brain injuries.

She left copies of the book for the library and the city.

Mayor Kerry Cook accepted the book on behalf of the city and asked Mailhot if there is more visibility or awareness around the seriousness of concussions than there has been in the past.

“I think hockey player Sidney Crosby’s concussion was big news and that’s helped,” Mailhot said.

Cook said her three children played hockey and soccer and there were many visits to the emergency ward at the hospital for concussions.

Mailhot’s spouse has had seven concussions.

It is harder to recover the more you have, she’s observed.

“It’s known as the invisible disability.”

A person is never cured from a brain injury, but can relearn, recover and learn tools to help them deal with it.

The brain has thousands of neurons. When one or some are damaged, the brain has to take a detour.

“Think of a traffic jam,” Mailhot used as an example. “It takes longer to get to your destination.”

Presently Mailhot has 25 to 35 clients recovering from brain injuries and that doesn’t include the clients who have been discharged.

She sees more than 100 people annually, and she only works with people between the ages of 19 and 65.

In fact she’s been pushing to work with people past the age of 65 because there are “really no services locally.”

The Caribou Brain Injury Society is under the umbrella of Interior Health and IH is giving Mailhot permission to work with people over 65 on a client-by-client basis.

Anyone under 19 is referred to Vancouver, she explained, adding children can recover from brain injuries faster than older people.

Mailhot has been with the society for two years and took over as executive director a year ago in December.

She visits schools in the region to give presentations. She also regularly sets up information booths at grocery stores and the Children’s Festival because the number one cause of brain injuries in children is falling from a shopping cart.

Butler is the founder of Brain and has first-hand experience recovering from a brain injury.

“Concussion Recovery, Rebuilding the Injured Brain’ is a road map for recovery, helping the concussed rebuild their lives, recover more quickly, with less stress and frustration,” Butler said of her book recently.

“Its unique advantage is that it considers the recovery journey from all aspects and is written from the inside out, with depth and understanding.”

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