By Eraina Hooyer
The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury has been a part of Ponoka for many years and a valuable facility both locally and nationally.
The Centre prides itself on its outstanding care and attention to all patients who have suffered from brain injury and those with psychiatric disorders.
The Brain Injury Awareness Committee has been active in promoting brain injury awareness and showing the importance of preventing it.
The provincial theme for 2008 is ‘Realize the Impact’ and the committee has brought the awareness into different schools in Ponoka to spread information on brain injury and has executed various programs to educate the public.
The information includes avoiding injuries by wearing helmets, living a healthy lifestyle, traffic safety, exercising, etc.
Lee Olson, educational rehabilitation therapist, believes that brain injury awareness is critical especially when it comes to young people.
“It is important to raise awareness about brain injury because so many of them are preventable. Although being safe, wearing helmets and living a healthy lifestyle can not guarantee that someone won’t suffer a brain injury, the risk of acquiring an injury can be reduced,” said Olson. “This year our focus has been educating people, school-aged youth in particular, about brain injuries and what can be done to prevent or reduce the risk of acquiring a brain injury. This message needs to be heard.”
In Alberta there are about 5,500 documented new cases of strokes every year, with 50 per cent of them being preventable, and 10,000 new cases of brain injury each year. Over 6,000 Canadians become permanently disabled after a traumatic brain injury with males ages 18 to 35 being the most affected.
Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in Canadians under the age of 35. Substance abuse can also cause brain injury.
The Brain Injury program at the Halvar Jonson Centre for Brain Injury in the Centennial Centre offers three services. The Inpatient Slow Stream Rehabilitation, Consultation Services and Education Curriculum.
The Inpatient Slow Stream Rehabilitation is focused on clients that have non-progressive brain injury and are medically stable and between the ages of 16 and 65 years of age. The client is assessed and they are put on a treatment program and receive therapy that will help with their individual physical, cognitive, behavioural and social challenges they may come across. Also included is Swallowing and Meal Management (SAMM), Spasticity Management, Rehabilitation Technologies and the Sexual Health Initiative. The Consultation Services are available to clients between 16 and 65 who have non-progressive acquired brain injuries and are not appropriate for inpatient services. An assessment is done to make sure the patient receives good care and may review medical management, spasticity, etc.
The Education curriculum is made up of 16 sessions that are broadcasted over the Telemental Health video conference system and provides knowledge for the general public about the tools, effects and rehabilitation of brain injury.
“This curriculum is accessed by numerous individuals and sites across Canada and is well respected for the quality of information relayed,” said Olson.
The inpatient program also includes neuropsychology, occupational therapy, education centre, physical therapy, recreation therapy and communication therapy.
The average length of stay for clients is nine months and inpatients are discharged after a review from staff and physicians.
“Treatment teams of interdisciplinary staff and physicians review the patient’s progress towards stated goals,” said Olson. “Generally goals are aimed at increasing a patient’s function or decreasing the burden of care. When the individual is no longer making advances in their goals, then discharge is initiated. Social workers, family members and community agencies all work together to find the most suitable home environment upon discharge.”
For more information on brain injury visit www.dthr.ab.ca.