Although June is coined Brain Injury Awareness month, a Cochrane woman is doing her best to educate the public about the ill and longterm effects of minor brain injury and post-concussion syndrome.
Brain Injury Coach, Vinny Gibson has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to living and understanding the impact a brain injury can have on your day to day life and she hopes to share her information with others.
It has been a long road in terms of recovery for Vinny and one that very few have understood or supported medically. Five years ago on her way home from work, a car accident she sustained in Cochrane changed her life. "The short version of the long story is initially I was taken to Urgent Care; I was checked over told I was fine that I had some soft tissue injuries and told to go see my doctor, which I did the next day. I was initially diagnosed by my doctor as maybe having whiplash but she didn't know if I had a concussion."
Having no idea she had suffered a concussion, Vinny returned to her day to day life when about fourteen days after the accident she lost her speech mid-sentence. "I was then rushed to Peter Lougheed, put through a battery of tests, was once again told there was nothing wrong with me, and questioned why I was there?"
Although her symptoms were worsening over time, her visit to over a dozen different therapists wouldn't provide her with a diagnosis. "Within the next three to four months I not only had loss of speech but I was now also having severe noise sensitivity."
After taking advice from a friend, Gibson headed to Cochrane Mental Health with the hope that she would be referred out for help which she eventually was. After 15 months, Vinny was accepted into the non-medical referral program known as the Brain Injury Assist program. Although she was accepted into the program her road to recovery cost Vinny everything she knew and loved. She lost her life coach business, her lifestyle due to being housebound, her driver's license for two and half years, and she couldn't be in a room with more than two or three people due to the noise interference she experienced which killed her social life.
Digging in her heels, Vinny continued to do a lot of self-investigation, research and advocating for herself. Although information around concussions and post-concussion treatment is getting better, there are still many voids says, Gibson. "I think the trend right now with all the football players and sports personalities that are becoming more front and center in the news right now with concussions, the discussion is getting a little bit better. But there are so many ordinary people, like myself, who get lost and can't even get into the health care system. I was fortunate to have a very good support network around me and I consider myself to be quite resilient and smart."
After fifteen therapists, Vinny was eventually diagnosed with Vestibular Hyperacusis meaning the nerves in her ears and eyes don't communicate with her brain and was told she had a suffered a minor brain injury. With help from a Brain Injury Assist Coach, Vinny was finally on a road to recovery and regaining her independence.
This past April, five years after the initial accident and two years after her diagnosis, Gibson would suffer a setback causing her once again to be in need of rehabilitation. Receiving treatment by a functional neurologist from the Carrick Institute (same institute who aided in the rehabilitation of NHL star, Sidney Crosby), Gibson is on a mission to help and educate others. "It has propelled me and motivated me that this is an area that I am really passionate about and want to get the message out."
Teaching people that there are tools and strategies that can aid in recovery and how to access early health care, Vinny is now coaching and being a vehicle of advocacy for others. Hosting a number of upcoming information sessions either on her own or in partnership with others, Vinny encourages anyone who has personally suffered a minor brain injury, concussion or if you care for someone that has, to consider checking out the following dates:
- January 14th from 6 to 8 pm Vinny will be hosting an information session on 'Living with Brain Injury and Post-Concussion Syndrome' at the Cochrane Public Library.
- On January 27th, Dr. Michelle Sprenza and Vinny Gibson will be co-presenting at The Vital Posture NUCCA Clinic in Calgary. Dr. Sprenza will share her experience as a Chiropractor, specializing in neck injury caused as a result of whiplash/concussion and addressing topics such as: how to recognize symptoms, how to determine the best type of treatment for specific symptoms and the importance of good nutrition/supplements. While Vinny will address the importance of managing negative feelings and emotions in recovery. (TBA)
- On February 9 and 10th, Ana Clark and Vinny Gibson are co-hosting a Winter Retreat for brain injury, post-concussion survivors, caregivers, employers, and educators at W.O. Mitchell U.R.S.A. Brain Injury Camp on Horse Creek Road. The goal: To build better understanding, support & community between survivors and others impacted by their injury. The two will also highlight the history and significance of the beautiful facility the W.O. Mitchell URSA Camp
- February 25th from 6 to 8 pm Vinny will be hosting 'Managing Negative Emotions in Recovery and How can Caregivers Be Supportive' at the Cochrane Public Library.