Community Meeting Round-Ups: AGM + Use of Activities of Daily Living to Enhance Memory and Optimize Reasoning

At our August community meeting, BIST board member Steve Gregory gave a presentation, Use of Activities of Daily Living to Enhance and Optimize Reasoning.

BIST board member Stephen Gregory

BIST board member Steve Gregory

Here are some of the highlights from Steve’s presentation, which come from his perspective and experiences as an ABI survivor:

  • Recovering from a brain injury requires three components: infracture, support and effort.
  • Using the task of making a meal as an example of an activity of daily living (ADL) requires infrastructure (the kitchen, stove, pots and pans), supplies (food, water) and effort (doing the cooking).
  • Before a brain injury, we took tasks such as putting on a pair of socks for granted. After an injury, the key to regaining these memories is to bring them back to the front of our minds. As Steve says, it’s all about GIGO (garbage in, garbage out!)
  • Steve says it’s important to focus on one goal at a time. For example, if tieing shoes is too much right now, focus on a task you can manage, and use velcro on your shoes until you’re ready to try again.
  • Steve says it’s important to focus on new goals. As a brain injury survivor, you may need to modify these goals.
  • Try not to waste energy trying to get back to the old you, that might not happen.

For more information on Steve’s presentation, go here 

AGM Update

photo credit: Wandering Toronto via photopin cc

photo credit: Wandering Toronto via photopin cc

On Monday, Sept. 22, BIST held our annual general meeting. Due to construction work at our regular venue at the Northern District Library, we had to re-locate the meeting to our new office at Deer Park Library – meaning several members got to check out our new digs!

At the meeting, we said goodbye to two board members, Tonya Flaming and Julie Osbelt, who both served on the BIST awareness committee for several years.

We thank Tonya and Julie for all their hard work – we will miss you on the board!

BIST welcomed the following two members to the board:

Susie Cooke  is a senior manager at Deloitte with over 9 years of experience in accounting. Susie’s work with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and United Way has led her to want to further expand her work in the community. She has direct experience supporting family members who have been effected by brain injury. In addition to this, Susie has very close links with some of the research that is being undertaken at the University of Toronto on the area of brain injury.

Jordan Assaraf is a lawyer at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers. By being involved in contact sports his entire life, Jordan has seen how traumatic brain injuries can occur and affect not only those who have suffered the injury, but also those that are surrounded by the injury. This has led Jordan be the personal injury lawyer he is today, but has also led him to volunteer his time and raise awareness about brain injuries by joining BIST.

Next Meeting: Monday, Oct. 27, 6-8 p.m.

Northern District Library

40 Orchard View Blvd, 2nd Floor Meeting Room

Topic: Lower-cost fitness club options in Toronto

Posted in Community Meeting Round Up

BIST Remembers: Lauren Noble


We are sad to announce that one of our founding board members, Lauren Noble, passed away on September 18, 2014.


photo credit: remysharp via photopin cc

Lauren joined the board when BIST was inaugurated in 2004. She was extremely active for her first term and was the chair of the communications committee.

BIST is most grateful and appreciative of Lauren for her leadership, dedication, commitment and the work she achieved in the early years. This included the BIST logo, brand, brochures, visual identity, web site, key messages, overall communication strategic objectives and operational excellence. Lauren was also active with OBIA.

Lauren was a wife, mother, past secondary school vice principal and she will be greatly missed by all those who knew her. Our condolescences are with her family and loved ones.

 For more information, you can read Lauren’s obituary.Those who knew her may wish to sign the guest book to pass on condolences

Posted in BIST Remembers

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 , , , ,