Cultural evening raises awareness of 16,000 annual brain injured Ontarians



    - June marks 7th annual Brain Injury Awareness Month -

    TORONTO, June 4 /CNW/ - In the early morning of January 1, 2003,
19 year-old University of Toronto student Tammy Ng got into a car with a
friend after a New Year's Eve bash. Instead of waking up in her own home the
next morning, she awoke from a coma three weeks later in Sunnybrook Hospital.
The car crashed into another vehicle near the intersection of Bayview and
Finch. She survived, but her life was irreversibly changed.
    Ng is one of over 16,000 Ontarians who sustain a brain injury each year.
Like so many victims, she suffers from impulsive behaviour and decreased
motivation. She fights to come to terms with her changed appearance, physical
limitations, and longs for life as it was.
    She expresses her hopes and frustration in her writing and beautiful
stain glass art, both of which she uses as therapeutic treatment. But her
reduced attention span makes each day a struggle. "Tammy's behaviour is
unpredictable and she can be difficult to deal with. Most of her friends have
moved on," said her elder sister Vivian Ng, a recreation therapist at
Sunnybrook Heath Sciences Centre. "She used to be outgoing and social, but now
she needs us to push her to get out of her room."
    Tammy Ng's work will be displayed along side that of other survivors at
Survivor Celebration, a cultural evening of art, music and dance taking place
at Nathan Philips Square on June 14 from 6:00-10:00pm run by the Brain Injury
Society of Toronto. Performances include: Samba Squad, Ariel's Worm, Da New
Addraxxion and Woodshed. The event is part of many provincial and national
programs that fall during Brain Injury Awareness Month.
    The estimated costs associated with traumatic brain injury are annually
$1 billion in Ontario alone. In addition to the individual, brain injury
effects self esteem, social relationships, employment status, school and work
performance. Brain injury can happen at any time to anyone at any age. Whether
caused by motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports injuries or through the disease
process.
    When Leslie Bolt was a teenager she started to have seizures, a symptom
of what was later diagnosed as Brain Arteriovenous Malformations. She lived
with the risk of hemorrhaging, not wanting to endure the potential
repercussions of the brain surgery she needed in order to treat her condition.
In 2000, married with a supportive husband, she decided that peace of mind to
eliminate the threat of an uncontrolled bleed outweighed the surgical risks.
The difficult operation left her entire left side paralyzed, caused difficulty
in remembering everyday tasks and appointments as well as some visual
impairment.
    "I have no regrets," said Bolt. "While I struggle to balance the desire
for independence with the necessary level of support, my life includes
enriching volunteer work, an enormous circle of family and friends, cooking,
gardening and book clubs. Yes, I'm in a wheelchair. Yes, I have to carry a pen
wherever I go to write down what I might forget, but I still feel my story can
be an inspiration for others and is full of hope."
    Children and youth have the highest portion of traumatic head injuries,
representing 30 per cent of all cases, or 4,966 admissions to hospital,
according to a report released on August 30, 2006 by the Canadian Institute
for Health Information that looked at the 2003-4 time period. Canadians aged
60 and older came a close second, making up 29 per cent of all cases or
4,902 admissions. The biggest portion of traumatic head injuries was caused by
falls, followed by motor vehicle incidents and assault. Cycling is one of the
leading causes of sports and recreation-related head injuries.

    For more information on Brain Injury resources in Toronto contact BIST at
416-830-1485.





For further information:

For further information: or to interview a survivor and/or their family,
contact: Brown & Cohen Communications & Public Affairs Inc., (416) 484-1132;
Natasha Bolotina ext. 5, natasha@brown-cohen.com, or Wendy Kauffman ext. 3,
wendy@brown-cohen.com

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BRAIN INJURY SOCIETY OF TORONTO

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