Following a car accident, Linsay Jamieson-Powell had a headache that lasted for days. She tried to dismiss it and didn’t think there was anything wrong.
She soon found out she had a head injury, which took her away from work for more than half a year.
Now, she is directly involved with helping those who suffer, and supporting those with head injuries through the Comox Valley Head Injury Society (CVHIS).
June is Head Injury Awareness Month, and as the program co-ordinator for the society, Jamieson-Powell said while the organization has changed its program and support delivery during the pandemic, its services are always there for those who need it.
“We offer counselling services for our members and caregivers, we offer survivor meetings for members, which are being done via Zoom for now,” she explained.
“Everyone supports one another and develops great bonds.”
The organization has been operational since 1993, with a mission to promote the health and well-being of its members and reduce the incidences of brain injury within the community through prevention-based education.
Some of the other services the organization provides are monthly lunches, peer support, music and art therapy, and an outreach worker available to assist in a variety of needs.
“A lot of programs have been put on hold, but we’re looking to see how we can do this outside as the weather gets better.”
With more than 160,000 people suffering from head injuries in British Columbia, Jamieson-Powell said head injuries are not only a result of physical trauma but internal as well; this could include stroke, alcohol or drug use (which changes the chemistry in the brain), swelling or high fevers.
She added just because someone may have a minor symptom doesn’t mean a head injury hasn’t occurred.
“Many people think their symptoms are normal and don’t believe anything is wrong with them. People [will dismiss some] as saying ‘it’s just a headache.’ You have to deal with something that’s very emotional, and sometimes people [who have head injuries] can be super emotional or just the opposite – they can lose emotions.”
Jamieson-Powell said the brain is an extremely resilient organ but can get easily injured.
“A doctor once told me the brain is like an egg – you don’t need to break the shell in order to damage the yolk. You can shake the egg and move the yolk.”
As part of Head Injury Awareness Month, the organization is placing emphasis on the importance of helmet safety as people begin resuming outdoor activities and sports.
She said many people are wanting to resume their activities, whether that be road or mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing or baseball, “and we appreciate that, but please wear a helmet.”
A properly-fitted helmet for sports is essential along with ensuring the helmet is not expired, she added.
“You don’t need to buy an expensive helmet but one that is rated for the right sport.”
The CVHIS serves an average of about 100 people, and Jamieson-Powell said it is a second home for many of its clients. The CVHIS is always accepting new clients, however, medical documentation is required.
As a registered non-profit, the CVHIS is working on fundraising strategies; one is a bottle drive where volunteers can take and sort bottles that may have been collecting in homes throughout the last few months. Donations can also be made at the bottle depot.
For more information, visit www.cvhis.org, call 250-334-9225 or visit the group on Facebook.