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Empowering Those Who Have Received An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) To Achieve More

The purpose of the BrainSTRONG Network is to help the world better-understand that because of the invisible-nature of an Acquired Brain Injury, those who have received one may do, or say, negative things and cause offence.

My Story

I don’t remember the day of the crash, or pretty much most of what happened before, or immediately after. As a result of the minivan slamming into me, not only was I physically damaged, but I’d also suffered an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). Being physically disabled is bad, but to not have the ability to remember what you’d had for dinner the day before is awful. I spent a few years hating myself, thinking “old me” was good, and “new me” was mostly useless and pathetic… or worse. I wasn’t suicidal (at all), but when a car came close to me when riding, I simply thought “oh well.” I saw doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists but I simply dismissed them, because I thought what they were saying was from a textbook.

Fast forward to 4 years ago, when I was in Florida, and Cathy’s granddaughter (Elizabeth) was with us. I was giving her a ride on my lap, on my scooter when we arrived, and when I put her down she looked at me with wide eyes, a big smile, and said “thank you Rob – wow, you’re AWESOME!” My self- negativity was strong, so I figured it was kid-talk, but I didn’t forget.

After we’d returned I’d been introduced to Kerry Goulet. He’s a retired professional hockey player (in Germany), who runs StopConcussions, a very successful Not-for-Profit that runs events globally. When we’d started talking, he asked me what had happened. I told him about the crash, what I’d done before (triathlons, half-marathons, and boot camp). I told him what she’d said, followed by something like “she’s a kid, but you know.” What he said after was, quite simply, jaw-dropping. He said something like “You’ve told me what you’re doing now, and what you think we might do together. What you did before the crash was impressive, but what you’re doing is seeing yourself through your eyes, Think of yourself, but change your PERSPECTIVE. Neither of us knew you before, so look through our eyes, because both of us think that you’re awesome. You PIVOTED – keep the speed but change direction of what you do. I agree with her, I think you’re pretty awesome, and what we’ll do together will be that, which is awesome” I blinked, more than a few times, and in that instant my mindset changed – COMPLETELY. He then told me about lemons, which are sour, but if you change your perspective it’s the basis of lemonade, which is so refreshing. It’s all about perspective and how one looks at things. 

What is Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), and How Common Is It?

An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is defined as damage to the brain, which occurs after birth and is not related to a congenital disease. These impairments may be temporary or permanent and cause partial or functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment.
Under the Age of 35

Acquired brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability
for Canadians under the age 35
1.3 million

Canadians are living with an acquired brain injury

Canadians sustain a brain injury each year, which is roughly 465 people daily, or one person injured every 3 minutes
1 in 10

people will know someone who will suffer a brain injury this year
1 in 25

Of the population lives with brain injury when factoring in those injuries due to stroke or other non-traumatic causes

Understand the Difference between Equality and Equity

Equality means that everyone gets the same, regardless of what would be optimal for them.
Equity means that everyone gets what would make the results of what they’re doing the same.

How We Would Like To Be Treated

Always treat people with disabilities as equals

All people want to have friends, fun, and experience life to the maximum. People with disabilities are no exception. Never be afraid, skeptical, or embarrassed to approach someone with a disability. People with disabilities have just as much fun!

Always ask before you help

People with disabilities have varying levels of independence. Never assume someone with a disability has a low-level. If someone looks like they’re struggling, ask before you help. A person may welcome help, or they may ask that you let her be independent; but even if she looks like she’s struggling, she may just want to become more independent, which requires practice in everyday situations.

Never assume someone does or does not have a disability.

Everyone is different. Sometimes, people with disabilities may act, feel, or think differently than you. Don’t assume that for this reason someone has a disability, simply treat him/her as an individual because all people should be treated equally.

Do not stare

Sometimes it is an eye-opening experience to see someone with a disability in public. However, people with disabilities have lives just like everyone else. You are certainly allowed to look, but do not stare at a person with a disability. Simply view them the way you view others.

Respect and understand confidentiality.

People with disabilities have a right to privacy. They are not obligated to tell you about their disability. If someone does tell you about his/her disability, do not assume that he/she is comfortable with you telling other people about his/her disability. Always ask permission to discuss the disability before you do it.

Our Associates

I would like to thank our associates for their support