The Road to Recovery: Bernadette’s Concussion Story
It was a typical July drive for Bernadette as she went about her daily tasks. The last thing she was expecting was a sudden hit, a blurry haze, and a long road to recovery ahead.
Bernadette, 63, sustained a concussion from a motor vehicle accident (MVA) in July 2017, and while it may have been an unfamiliar experience for her, it’s an all-too-familiar occurrence that plagues Canadians. MVAs and falls account for almost 50% of concussion cases in Canada.
“Initially, I felt confusion” Bernadette explained. “But then I couldn’t finish sentences. I’d forget where I was, even in familiar places.”
These common symptoms after a concussion would frighten more than one. Concussion patients often experience a constellation of symptoms encompassing physical, emotional and cognitive manifestations as well as sleep disturbances. Furthermore these symptoms impact every aspect of a patient’s life: occupation, social life, finances, etc.
In Bernadette’s case, simple daily tasks became exceptionally challenging. “Something as simple as moving from the stove to the fridge would make me incredibly dizzy or going up and down the stairs would cause me pain. I used to be able to do these things before, so I couldn’t understand why daily tasks became such a challenge.”
Finding a Cure
“I felt stigmatized, I felt like people didn’t understand what was going on.” Bernadette explained that finding the right medical care was a windy process. Despite numerous visits with her general practitioner, MRI scans, psychotherapy sessions, and regular physical therapy, she was not recovering and was left questioning the nature of her condition until she started with the York Region Concussion Clinic.
Concussion symptoms differ from one person to another. Furthermore the affected domains, for example the vestibular (ie. balance) or visual systems, all depend on each other. The multimodal approach at YRCC appealed to Bernadette. After several thorough multidisciplinary assessments, she started a personalized treatment plan that involved vestibular rehabilitation, behavioural optometry and biofeedback, all in the context of mindfulness.
“I loved biofeedback and mindfulness. It teaches you to stop, breathe, and become aware of your environment. I think a lot of people could benefit from this, even if they haven’t suffered an injury the way I have.”
Treatment with YRCC’s expert team has taught Bernadette many things about herself. “I learned that I am not very forgiving of myself, and that was something that I had to learn to do.”
Words of Wisdom
“You don’t have to be a victim. Concussions have significant psychological impacts, and if you seek appropriate care, it can become very empowering” concluded Bernadette.
Interview & writing: Mojtaba Garshasb
Last update: February 2019