Having been a psychiatrist practising since relocating to Sudbury more than 30 years ago, I have witnessed some of the real difficulties and achievements made by many within our community.
Supporting individuals who have been diagnosed with an acquired brain injury has been part of my practice for many years. The long-term challenges one faces after a serious brain injury occurs have become increasingly apparent. Whether one is diagnosed as having a mild or severe injury, aspects of their day-to-day functioning changes permanently, resulting in the need to adapt to these changes. Medication and therapy do not always address all the areas one may be personally challenged by in their life.
When one experiences a brain injury, they are not only affected cognitively, but possibly physically, emotionally, behaviourally and socially. The residual effects vary from person to person depending on the specific injury. For one, it may be significant cognitive challenges; for another, issues with behavioural control or difficulties with emotional coping. It is apparent that brain injuries don't only impact the patient I see within my practice, but their entire personal support network.
When someone's life is altered by a brain injury, it often results in the need to relearn means of day-to-day functioning, means of emotional coping, and appropriate behavioural responses. In the most significant circumstance, individuals’ personalities change, and day-to-day functioning we take for granted become difficult.
Having a moderate to severe injury may require regular supervision and support to function safely within the community. Seeing the long-term challenges and patients within the hospital setting that can be best supported and require intense supports often face barriers to discharge or need to be placed in long term care due to the lack of options within the community.
Having worked with March of Dimes Canada — a community-based service provider to those diagnosed with an acquired brain injury — over the years, I recognize the value and importance of having specialized service for these individuals. Similar to those experiencing mental health or addiction concerns, brain injury survivors benefit from services dedicated to their needs, services that are person-centered and adapt to changing needs.
Our region is known to have the highest incidence of acquired brain injury per capita in the province, further highlighting the need. March of Dimes Canada offers a range of services, but particularly support some past and present patients so they can lead fulfilling lives and regain skills lost to the best of their ability.
When I was approached to serve as co-chair of this fundraising campaign, I agreed to lend my support to their vision of constructing a setting dedicated to providing 24-hour care to 12 individuals with complex needs. I am aware of the lack of similar resources not only in the community of Sudbury, but the entire Northeast, as well as the cost to our health-care sector if these types of settings and services are not planned for and made available in our communities.
As co-chair of the March of Dimes Canada Non-Profit Housing Corporation’s Moving A-Head Capital Campaign, our goal is to raise an additional $500,000 towards this setting. While we have begun construction, we still have dollars to secure to make this setting a reality. Along with my co-chair on this campaign, Louise Paquette, I encourage you to support this campaign and make a difference in the lives of brain injury survivors.
Dr. Rayudu Koka is a physician in Greater Sudbury and co-chair of the March of Dimes Canada Non-Profit Housing Corporation’s Moving A-Head Capital Campaign.