Advice from 2 BIST Run champs on how to kick butt on the 5K


Millions of years before long-distance running was taken up for recreation, it’s purpose was strictly utilitarian.



Indeed, anthropological studies have proven that the very earliest hunter-gatherers sought food by simply chasing an animal to the point of exhaustion. Later on, ancient Greece was famous for its messengers who would run miles to deliver the latest news, among the most famous being Philippides who, according to legend, ran from Marathon to Athens – a distance of more than 30K – to announce the Greek victory over the Persians in the Battle of Marathon in 490BC.

Today, running is a recreational sport, and those of us who are less athletically inclined than we’d like to be can look on with admiration at the speed and stamina possessed by those who do it well – Usain Bolt, Catherine Ndereba or Michael Johnson. Yet most who run long-distance do it not for glory or fame,  but simply because they enjoy running – and what better place to do it for a good cause than the fourth annual BIST Run Walk and Roll  5K race coming up on September 20?

Among those taking part – for the fourth year in a row – are Colleen Boyce and Garvin Moses. Colleen – who is the executive director of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario (NRIO), Founding Chair of BIST and a member of the BIST communications, volunteer and BIAM  planning committees –  has always been athletic, involved in a number of different sports over the years.



Colleen runs all year round, whether it’s plus or minus 30 degrees, averaging around 25K per week during the spring, summer and fall.  Her motivation is “simply for recreation and as a means of a great cardio workout.” The BIST 5K is the only race in which she participates and while she follows no set regime, Colleen maintains a healthy diet and always does some basic stretching before setting out. Asked whether she followed any plan of action during the BIST race, she replied:

“I tend to start off slowly and within the first kilometer, start building up to a consistent rhythm, maintaining that pace until the last kilometre, where I speed up, if I can.”



Garvin has been a serious runner for many years. He’s currently Program Manager for the Mississauga Residence and the Supported Living Apartments (SLA) program at NRIO,  and like Colleen, has been involved with athletics since he was young. He began to run competitively after he started university, and eventually competed in the national championships.  Garvin also runs all year around, but typically does more mileage during the spring and summer than the winter. He explained that last year’s frigid winter was particularly challenging:

“There were times I would reach home and the sweat running down my forehead would be nothing more than an icicle!”

In addition to competitive running, Garvin also participates in duathlons, involving both running and biking, so he currently cycles as often as he runs, and possibly even more so.

Garvin Moses


Asked if he did anything to prepare himself for a race, he explained:

I typically do a very light workout the day before a race. Over the week I try to carbo-load, then the day of, I have my music playlist and visualize the perfect race. I find that this is the most important thing regardless of everything else that may be out of your control. The best thing is to manage to do things you can control, i.e. have a good breakfast, ensure shoes are tied and double knotted and go out there and run the best race you are capable of. I typically open a bit harder until I get into a rhythm then sprint for the line in the last 1K-500M.”

While few of us can claim to be in the same athletic league as either Colleen or Garvin, we can at least cheer them on – and all the others – from the sidelines on September 20.



Alternatively, if you happen to be a runner, walker, or roller yourself, why not come out and participate? With any luck, the weather will be fine (after all, it simply can’t pour rain two years in a row(!)) and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning  amidst beautiful surroundings.

So the best of luck to Colleen, Garvin, and the hundreds of others who will be taking part in this year’s Run Walk and Roll. Whether you do it a breakneck speed or a leisurely stroll, you’re ALL winners for helping in the cause of brain injury programs and awareness!

It’s not too late to sign up for the BIST 5K!

(Survivor members can fundraise their registration fee)


Posted in BIST 5K

Why I’m running the BIST 5K: Ryan Murray

It looks like Ryan Murray may be in line for a shiny new iPad mini!

With $1,560 raised as of September 12 – he’s the top individual fundraiser for the BIST 5K! Here’s what Ryan says motivates him to run and fundraise for BIST:


“I am proud to be running to support BIST.  As a partner at Oatley Vigmond, I am committed to working with brain injury survivors to help them achieve fair compensation for their injuries.  I find it especially gratifying when I’m able to help a person with a traumatic brain injury obtain the resources necessary to provide for a lifetime of future care needs.”

 Want to take that iPad mini away from Ryan?

Check out fundraising tips hereherehere and here and get going – race day is Sept. 20!

Posted in BIST 5K

Why exercise (such as the BIST 5K – hint, hint) is good for you


If you haven’t heard: The BIST 5K Run,Walk & Roll is on September 20th 2014!

runners on the BIST 5K

Why do the BIST 5K?

Doesn’t the idea of raising money, contributing to a cause, taking part and being active sound good? So why don’t YOU join the BIST 5K?

Exercising in honour of loved ones, a family member, friend, or even yourself can build a sense of social responsibility and create a euphoric feeling that can be obtained in no other way.

Here’s what I like about exercise:

  • It helps circulate the blood in my legs, arms and torso
  • It allows my mind to relax and feel at one with my entire body
  • I get a sense of accomplishment
  • The sense of wonder is amazing; getting to explore, think and feel new things, even if I’ve been on this exact route before
  • A feeling of freedom and a sense of euphoria

close up of the shoes of someone walking in the park

photo credit: purplespace via photopin cc

Taking care of yourself and knowing you’ve done something healthy, is as good a feeling as any.

Maybe walking isn’t your thing, but visiting your local gym, doing yoga, dance routines, swimming etc. can achieve the same results. Exercise in any form can do the trick and lead to not only healthiness, but happiness.

(Having said that – the BIST 5K is on September 20!)

Survivor members of BIST can cover their $40 registration fee through fundraising!

HERE’S HOW: Send your name, address, telephone number, birth date, whether you will be running or walking, and your shirt size (S,M,L and XL) to ASAP!  Print the Fundraising Form and begin collecting pledges!

The BIST 5K Run, Walk & Roll

Sept. 20, 9:45 a.m. – Sunnybrook Park

1132 Leslie St. (at Eglinton)


Posted in BIST 5K

Why I’m walking the BIST 5K: Vanessa Giles

Hello! My name is Vanessa Giles. I am 23-years-old and I signed up for the 5K walk with BIST so I could work towards some of my goals established with my physiotherapist.

BIST 5K participant and top fundraiser Vanessa Giles

A motor vehicle accident in May 2013 changed my life and gave me a whole set of new goals that I now have to achieve.  As a result, I unwillingly jumped onto the Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor bandwagon! I like to make a difference in peoples lives and why not make a difference in the lives of survivors like me? The concept of pay it forward allows someone to do something good for another person. Some survivors aren’t lucky enough to recover as well as I have so I’m walking for them! I am also fundraising for the whole brain injury community in Toronto so that they can all receive the services that they deserve!! I am wishing that because I can help them, they will be as positive and as grateful for their life as I am for mine! Once they reach the strength and recovery point that I am at, I hope that they will pay it forward and help the other survivors!

As of Sept. 5, Vanessa Giles is one of the BIST 5K’s top fundraisers!

You can find out more about Vanessa here

Posted in BIST 5K

Advocating the Basics of the Brain


There are few things greater than being referred to as a hero.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I do not advocate for brain injury for that purpose. I do not talk about what I have gone through, and still go through, as a Survivor of ABI (acquired brain injury) for fame and applause, though they are nice to hear. They are especially nice to hear because brain injuries are usually invisble, seldomly understood and rarely acknowledged. Survivors’ struggles are mostly overlooked and/or given little sympathy.

I talk about brain injury to bring about awareness, to help others with ABI know that they are not alone, and to get things off my chest. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I want nothing but to help others and the cause in general. But the hero thing, yeah, it sounds and feels good.

lego superheros

photo credit: Angelina :) via photopin cc

So where do I hear these awesome ‘hero’ words? The Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) offers a Brain Basics course that I participate in every so often. The ones I have been involved with have been put together with the help of the Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST).

Brain Basics is designed to provide health care workers, caregivers and others with an introduction to the world of brain injury. The goal of this two-day workshop is to help participants understand the structure and function of the brain, to appreciate the consequences of an ABI and to gain some strategies to work effectively with people living with this injury.

However, the brain is complex, and so too is a brain injury. Almost every brain injury will impact a Survivor in different ways. So this is where I come in, usually along with four or five other Survivors, and maybe family members.

We all sit on a panel and are asked various questions about living with an ABI. These questions range from the date and type of the injury, to the hardship and personal impact which have resulted from it.

The facilitator is very gentle with the questions and there is no pressure to answer, because after all, real life experiences can be difficult and emotional. And not just for panel members, for our audience as well. I have seen quite a few eyes tear up after hearing our stories.

cartoon sketch of different parts of the brain

photo credit: labguest via photopin cc

When the facilitator is done with the Q&A (and we are asked to keep our answers to a minimum so we don’t go on and on, which we probably could) participants have the opporunity to ask us questions. The purpose of this part of the program is for the panel members, conducted by the facilitator, to tell and share stories that the modules don’t teach.

The only real cure for brain injury is for everyone to develop a basic understanding and then work together to create awareness and inclusion. That’s what this program and advocating for brain injury is all about.

According to OBIA, more than 2400 people have taken the program. Those who successfully complete the examination are awarded a certificate from OBIA.

Brain Basics Training

Contact OBIA at: 1-855-642-8877  or

Posted in Awareness month, Survivor Stories | Tagged , , , ,

New Pediatric Concussion Guidelines – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW


Whoever said, “Youth is wasted on the young,” was probably envious of all their energy and exuberance!

Indeed, these attributes are ones that children and adolescents seem to have in abundance, clearly demonstrated by the myriad of physical activities and contact sports they enjoy both on and off the playground. As healthy as these activities are – and they should most definitely be encouraged – there is always the danger of injuries, including broken bones, sprained ligaments or tendons, and, probably the most serious of all, trauma to the head.

kids playing sports

photo credit: stevendepolo via photopin cc

What we’ve known up to now

Head injuries fall into two categories, external and internal. While an external injury may appear more frightening, it is actually considerably less dangerous than an internal injury. There may be heavy bleeding followed by a ‘goose bump’, which eventually disappears within a few days or a week.

Internal injuries can include a fractured skull, torn blood vessels, or damage to the brain. They are considerably more serious and can lead to a brain injury or a loss of life. Concussions are the most common type of internal head injury. Derived from the Latin concutere (to shake violently), the word concussion is defined as “a traumatic brain injury which may alter the way the brain functions.”

Concussions can be caused by any blow to the head, face, neck or anywhere the body that results in a sudden jarring of the head. A person doesn’t need to be knocked out or lose consciousness to have had a concussion. Immediate symptoms may include headaches, difficulty falling or staying asleep, nausea, dizziness, confusion, issues with concentration, memory and problems with balance and coordination. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks after the injury.

children hanging upside from fence

photo credit: Paul L Dineen via photopin cc

According to Dr. Sherilyn Driscoll, a physician with the Mayo Clinic in Boston, concussions in children and adolescents can lead to serious health risks, particularly if the symptoms aren’t noticed immediately after the injury.

The risk magnifies if a person returns to physical activity too soon after the injury before the trauma has had time to heal. Worse, a second incident of head trauma shortly after the first may result in brain swelling, a condition known as Second Impact Syndrome (SIS). Once a child has suffered an initial concussion, he or she has a much higher risk of sustaining another, and the effects of multiple concussions over the years can be cumulative. There can be dire consequences. Rowan Stringer, an Ottawa high school rugby player died as a result of SIS shortly after a game in May of 2013.

Recent Findings

In June, 2014, Dr. Roger Zemek, a scientist at Ottawa’s Children’s Hospital in Eastern Ontario, presented the first guidelines on the effects of concussions on children and adolescents. Zemek teamed up with the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and chaired a 30-member panel, which reviewed 4000 papers with the latest evidence about concussions in children.

child in hockey helmet

photo credit: cellar8 via photopin cc

Stemming from Zemek’s conclusions were three recommendations for children suffering from concussions:

  • longer rest periods
  • no physical activity for up to 30-days
  • a limited amount of time devoted to cognitive brain activity with limited or no recreational time spent on television or computer games.

The guidelines recommend that if a player demonstrates a concussion-like symptom such as vomiting or a failed memory test, he or she should be removed from the game immediately.  Another discovery: researchers found that in addition to the usual physical symptoms, young people also frequently experienced signs of irritability, sadness and anxiety following a concussion.

Zemek wrote in an email to BIST:

In my opinion, concussion has only been recognized as potentially serious in the recent past since there was so little concussion research even just five-years ago.  When we looked at all of the published literature, there was extremely limited high quality concussion research in children and teenagers more than 5 and 10 years back. Like in so many other illnesses, children are not just little adults.  

10-year-old Sam Barton became one of the 900 children and teens who show up with a concussion at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario emergency room last year after he banged his head on the floor during gym class. Without any signs of brusing or nausea, Sam’s parents took him to the ER after he complained of a headache.

Tests soon confirmed that Sam had a conscussion. The knock had also affected Sam’s ability to concentrate. Sam was lucky. Zemek’s findings show that only one in four medical practitioners are using concussion tools to measure the severity of injuries and to track recovery.

Zemek writes:

For parents, caregivers, teachers and coaches, the guidelines provide a ‘one-stop shop‘ in order to best monitor and manage ongoing symptom management, specifically the stepwise ‘return-to-learn’ and ‘return-to-play’ tools.  

For parents, the guidelines offer suggested alternative activities since their child may be unable to play sports while recovering, and also offer step-wise advice on how to return to school.

For teachers, the guidelines include templates letters that could be used to implement doctor-school communication describing recommended level of activities to facilitate communication with the school.   

For coaches and schools, the guidelines provide resources in order to improve the whole community response to concussion recognition and management, and offer tools to track recovery and to ensure safe removal from play in the event of a suspected concussion. 

The guidelines include a pocket Concussion Recognition Tool for use in schools by coaches and parents. The toolkit outlines various symptoms (such as loss of consciousness, convulsions, problems with balance or headaches) and which steps to take following an injury (such as removing the player from the game, checking his or her memory, or calling an ambulance).











What to do if your child has a head injury

There are a number of steps you should follow should you think your child has suffered a concussion. If he or she has any of the following symptoms, call 911:

  • unconsciousness for more than a few minutes
  • abnormal breathing
  • obvious serious wound
  • bleeding or clear fluid from the nose, ear, or mouth
  • disturbance of speech or vision
  • pupils of unequal size
  • weakness or paralysis
  • neck pain or stiffness
  • seizure

If your child is unconscious:

  • do not try to move your child in case there is a neck or spine injury
  • call for help

If your child is conscious:

  • do your best to keep your child calm and still
  • if there’s bleeding, apply a clean or sterile bandage
  • do not attempt to cleanse the wound, which may aggravate bleeding and/or cause serious complications if the skull is fractured
  • do not apply direct pressure to the wound if you suspect the skull is fractured
  • do not remove any object that’s stuck in the wound

Finally …

Concussions are serious matters, not to be taken lightly. If you suspect a child, colleague, or player has suffered a head injury, insist he or she seek medical attention immediately. Rest – both physical and mental – is crucial. If not treated, concussions can lead to much more serious issues such as SIS or acquired brain injuries.

The brain is a complex and marvellous organ, we human beings can’t exist without it, and young brains are particularly vulnerable. So let’s give it the respect it deserves. Indeed, concussions are more than “just a bump on the head.”

Posted in Concussion | Tagged , , , ,

Find Out What BIST Did This Summer

It’s been a busy summer at BIST, with our 10th anniversary party, regular community meetings and programs – we’d thought we’d share some pics of what we’ve been doing!


BIST members at Toronto Island

Centre Island frisbee golf trip – June 3, 2014

BIST members at Toronto Island

BIST members at Toronto Island

BIST members at Toronto Island

BIST members at Toronto Island

BIST members at Toronto Island

BIST members at Toronto Island

More pics from our 10th Anniversary Party!

BIST 10th anniversary party

photo credit George Ian Bowles

BIST 10th anniversary party

photo credit George Ian Bowles

BIST 10th anniversary party

photo credit George Ian Bowles

BIST 10th anniversary party

photo credit George Ian Bowles

Trip to the Royal Ontario Museum, August 19, 2014

BIST member at the Royal Ontario Museum

 Up Next:

BIST Community Meeting  – Aug.  25, 6-8 p.m.

Posted in BIST event | Tagged , ,