Brain injuries happen for many reason and affect everyone who has suffered one in different ways.
For Golden residents Garrett Appleton and Jennifer Maddock, injuries to their brains came at different points in their lives and have led to different challenges.
Appleton is now a 23-year-old who works at Sobeys. When he was only four months old a type of bacterial meningitis changed what the idea of normal would be.
“When I grew up I felt (the way I was) was normal. What ‘normal people’ say is supposed to be normal, is not what normal is to me,” Appleton said.
One of the biggest issues for Appleton growing up was suffering very serious seizures.
“The difference for me was dropping down and having a seizure. That is the big difference. I do not have many seizures but when I do they are big,” Appleton said.
Maddock suffered her injury in a different way. She worked at CIBC and is now on disability due to the effects of the meningitis which doctors have told her was a one in a million chance of contracting.
“To look at me I look fine. I look normal, but it is not the outside that is the problem. It is my brain which is different now,” Maddock said.
She developed a viral meningitis which caused encephalitis. This in turn caused her to have seizures. She explained that she has had some problems with her memory and that explaining things to people can cause her issues.
They both deal with questions in their everyday life because people do not completely understand the severity of the injury. The fact their injuries are hidden in their brains and they function fairly well in society causes some confusion for people who think they look fine on the outside.
“We are normal people but my brain does not work like it used to,” Maddock said.
Both Maddock and Appleton are members of the East Kootenay Brain Injury Association.
“For me it has been a place to go to help me. There are people out there in similar situations. They have been awesome in helping me with things such as paper work and things I would normally be able to do on my own. It frustrates me that I can’t anymore, but they help me deal with that. It is nice to know you have that support in your community and there are people who can share their situations,” Maddock said.
The East Kootenay Brain Injury Association is working hard to increase community education and awareness of Acquired Brain Injury(ABI). Throughout the year at various venues: schools, service clubs, faith organizations, trade fairs, community organizations, public meetings, they speak and have displays. They have been working with different groups in the region to provide programs that are effective in educating and making people aware of ABI.
The group promotes the use of helmets in sports all year long, not just summer. Whether it be on a bicycle or a snow sport, the helmet is effective in the prevention of brain injury.
On the group’s website it states “It is important to recognize that brain injury also occurs through non-traumatic causes such as: stroke, anoxia, substance abuse and heart attacks. The effects are equally devastating for the individual and families. If you have acquired a brain injury from a sporting activity, fall or any other cause, know there is help and you do not have to do this alone.”