Post Concussion Syndrome: Why giving up screen time is part of the solution & problem

LCD screens surround us. Many people stare at computer screens throughout their workdays, taking breaks only to check social media on their smartphones.

While there are far fewer concussions in the world than there are screens, the frequency with which these injuries occur has been increasingly acknowledged in the mainstream media. Athletes such as Sydney Crosby, Steve Young, and Eric Lindros just to name a few, have brought the severity of Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) to the forefront of public discourse.

A person who suffers from PCS will experience symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and headaches for an extended period of time after the initial injury. This can last for weeks or months, and there is no clear answer as to how it can be minimized.

image of an office with a laptop and no one at the desk, next to a close up of a man who looks like he has a headache

The few treatment options that health professionals agree to are: rest, and a complete break from LCD screens.

While all cognitive activity can worsen the severity of headaches and dizziness in people with concussions, there are several reasons why the use of LCD screens in particular can exacerbate these symptoms:

  • Images that appear on LCD screens are made up of pixels that refresh at a rate of 60 times per second, even when the content on the screen is not changing.
  • The rapid movement of these pixels means when we look at screens for too long, we strain our eye muscles.
  • For someone who has suffered a brain injury, this strain can be detrimental.
  • Further, the backlighting of LCD screens can cause cognitive fatigue, headaches, dizziness and nausea in concussion patients.

22-year-old Maggie Callaghan, a varsity athlete who has suffered several sports related concussions over the past few years says she tried to avoid computer screens all together for weeks after her first concussion.

“I couldn’t look at a screen for more than a few minutes without feeling intense pain behind my eyes that would quickly evolve into a full blown migraine” Callaghan said. “I tried to avoid computer screens altogether for as long as I could.”

Maggie is one of many young concussion victims for whom the inability to study using a computer screen resulted in severe stress.

“It sort of becomes a cycle,” says Joe Ross, a 20-year-old student who, like Maggie, has suffered from concussions. “You feel sick when you use your computer to do school work, but when you aren’t able to keep up with your school work you feel anxious which can be harmful to the recovery process.”

Anxiety is just one of many mental health problems that disproportionately affects concussion patients. In fact, two out of three concussion patients experience depression following their recovery.

The social isolation that comes from being unable to communicate using computer and phone screens, as well as the stress associated with being unable to complete day-to-day tasks, are thought to be two of the primary causes of depression in concussion victims.

As difficult as it can be for students to abstain from using screens following their concussions, the struggle to recover from PCS without the use of computers can be even more intense for working adults.

“The recovery process would have been even more stressful if I had been working in a professional environment at the time of my concussions,” says Maggie. “So many jobs involve, if not completely revolve around, using computers. Being unable to work and not knowing when I would get better would be seriously nerve-wracking.”

Currently, treatment options for PCS do very little to account for the importance of screens in the average person’s everyday life. Patients have to work hard to engage in society and keep up with school or work without the use of their computer screens.

This can often be one of the most unexpected challenges of dealing with PCS.

So where does this leave people needing to return to a pre-concussion life while dealing with PCS?

While there are no solutions, one recent pilot study commissioned by the Canadian Concussion Centre indicated that people experiencing PCS were able to use a non-LCD screen, thus enabling a quicker return to school or work life.

PHOTOS via pixabay


Colin Harding is the CEO & Co-founder of Iris Technologies – a Canadian healthcare technology company that is improving the lives of people who have suffered from a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) or live with chronic migraines.
 
A version of this article appeared on the Iris Technologies Blog
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The strength in her heart: Hero of Brain Injury Elizabeth Farquharson

BY: JENN BOWLER

Are you ready, heroes?  The BIST 5K is just days away!

Sign up or donate today: www.bist.ca/5k

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Meet Elizabeth Farquharson – the final hero we’re showcasing in our Heroes of Brain Injury Series – we can’t wait to see her and all the heroes on October 1st!

Our ABI hero Elizabeth Farquharson doesn’t need to run as fast of the speed of light to impress us, she’s worked in the field of brain injury for over two decades and is still going strong! Find out more about this amazing hero of brain injury below!

BY: JENN BOWLER 

 Elizabeth Farquharson
A true hero: Elizabeth Farquharson

 Tell us a bit about your work:

I have been a physiotherapist for 34 years and working in brain injury for about 20 of those years at Sunnybrook Hospital, as a clinician and more recently as a coordinator of care for trauma patients. I am a member of the ABI Network Transitions Committee and also have been involved in development of best practice guidelines for brain injury through the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Despite the often devastating nature of trauma and brain injury, it has been a very rewarding career and I am often in awe of the patients and families that I have worked with. I admire the way people have managed to conquer so many obstacles and continue along chosen paths or find new meanings and different ways of doing things.

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

The BIST 5K is a way to support our brain injured patients and families and for our trauma ward to come together in a social event that is fun and inclusive. This year will be my fifth year participating!

I have run one year and walked all the other times – hoping one day there will be a prize for the slowest! I love that the BIST 5K doesn’t care how you do it; only that you do it. There are people cheering you over the finish line regardless of how fast or slow you are!

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

It means doing your best to provide the best patient care that you can. It means supporting and advocating for your patients and families and being involved in that journey of recovery. Even if I’m only involved for a short time while they are part of the early acute care phase at Sunnybrook, it is still a privilege and honour to work with brain injured clients and families and see their progress and resilience. It is so rewarding when these individuals come back to visit us at the hospital, and we are able to follow their journeys.

What is your favourite part about Race Day?

It’s a lot of fun and I love meeting different people from survivors of brain injury to the whole spectrum of care involved in recovery. I love the park, the fresh air, the healthy competition and the family involvement!


Jenn Bowler is a social worker in the Trauma Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is a member of the BIST 5K Run, Walk, & Roll Committee.

Up, up and away! Meet Ellie Lapowich #BISTRUN’s heroic TOP fundraiser

What can’t we say about Ellie Lapowich? Not only does she sit on our Mix and Mingle Committee and is a proud BIST supporter – but Ellie also manages to be one of our (if not the top) fundraiser at our 5K each and every year.  We challenge you to take her on and see if you can beat her fundraising amounts this year! 

 
That’s just one reason why Ellie is an ABI Hero – read more about her below!
 
5K Poster 2017
Be an ABI Hero! Register today! www.bist.ca/5k
BY: JENN BOWLER

Tell us a bit about your work:

I have had the privilege of working with people who have sustained brain injuries for almost twenty years now. Since 2004, I have owned and operated Innovative Case Management Inc. (ICM), which is a community-based company that provides case management and occupational therapy services, as well as Catastrophic and medical legal assessments.

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

I have participated in the BIST Run for the past several years because it is a great event that raises much needed funds for the wonderful programs offered by BIST. It is amazing to see such a great turnout year after year as members of our community, along with their families and friends (and often pets), cover the 5k while enjoying the camaraderie this event promotes.

BIST 5k top fundraiser Ellie Lapowich
ABI Super Fundraiser Ellie Lapowich

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

I think the real heroes of brain injury are our clients who have sustained these injuries and work incredibly hard every day to overcome the many obstacles they now have to face. I have had the good fortune of meeting some amazing people who are true inspirations. I believe that our clients’ loved ones and caregivers are also heroes.

What is your favourite part about Race Day?

My favourite part of race day is watching brain injury survivours triumphantly cross the finish line.


Jenn Bowler is a social worker in the Trauma Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is a member of the BIST 5K Run, Walk, & Roll Committee.

BIST Heroes 5K Dynamic Duo: Charles Gluckstein and his Sidekick Duke

Are you ready, heroes? Meet Charles Gluckstein – he says it’s his sidekick Duke who brings him out to the BIST Heroes 5K Run, Walk or Roll every year – but we’re pretty sure nothing on Earth could keep this ABI hero away from our 5K!

5K Poster 2017
Register today! www.bist.ca/5k

BY: JENN BOWLER

Tell us a bit about your work:

It is always heart wrenching, yet inspiring, to meet and work with individuals who have survived trauma including brain injuries. Most have a great will to persevere no matter the barrier. As a youngster my father exposed me to the places such as Variety Village and the Active Living Alliance where I could volunteer as a photographer for their special events and was amazed at the accomplishments and great spirit of individuals who had suffered from physical and mental challenges.

Once becoming a lawyer I immediately volunteered as a Director of the former BIST. Our firm [Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers] has always supported the Ontario Brain Injury Association of which my father was a founding director and similar organizations. I’m very passionate about helping individuals living with brain injuries as they are the most vulnerable victims, and the ones who need the most help with their recovery and changes in their lifestyle.

Charles Gluckstein swims in a lake with his dog Duke
True ABI Heroes: Charles Glucksten and Duke

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

It’s Duke (my dog) who forces me to run the BIST 5K! He loves outdoor activities and being around people so he brings me along to drive him to the event. But in all seriousness, I participate in the BIST 5K event with my family because I believe it supports a great cause and one that is and has been close to our hearts.

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

To me, a hero of brain injury is someone who has sustained an injury and is working hard every day to overcome the challenges they face, and tries every day to be better than they were the day before. I try to help those with brain injuries to receive financial, moral and medical support, but I am by no means the hero, they are.

What is your favorite part about race day?

My favorite part of race day is seeing everyone come together on an equal footing. You have brain injury survivors, community leaders and medical and legal professionals bringing their families to participate together towards the same goal. Once the suit and ties are off and the medical gowns are put away, the egos are put away as well. We are all there to have a good time and interact with one another, not as professionals, patients, referral sources, caregivers but instead as humans.


Jenn Bowler is a social worker in the Trauma Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is a member of the BIST 5K Run, Walk, & Roll Committee.

Meet the fastest ABI heroes in the park: Garvin Moses & Kathleen Lawrence

BY: JENN BOWLER

As we gear up for BIST’s Heroes 5K Run, Walk or Roll on October 1st, we’re launching our 2nd Annual Heroes of Brain Injury Series, highlighting some ordinary folk with extraordinary ABI superpowers who come out to our 5K each year.

Read about our fastest heroes on Race Day – Garvin Moses and Kathleen Lawrence – below. But just so we’re clear, we know everyone who comes out to our 5K is a hero – no matter how fast they run, walk or roll!

Fastest BIST Run runners Garvin Moses and Kathleen Lawrence
 

REGISTER TODAY! WWW.BIST.CA/5K

 

 

Fastest Female: Kathleen Lawrence

RUN TIME: 21 min 33 sec

  1. Tell us a bit about your work:

    I work as an Occupational Therapist (OT) with Function Ability Rehabilitation Services, as an OT for approximately seven years now and with my role at Function Ability for over two years. With Function Ability, I work with people who have sustained a variety of traumatic injuries including brain injury; most of the clients I work with have been involved in motor vehicle collisions. I work with my clients to help support their recovery process and enable them to return to their activities of normal life and re-engage in their meaningful occupations. I love what I do and it has been a very fulfilling career thus far.

Kathleen Lawrence holds up her race number after a race
BIST Heroes 5K Run, Walk & Roll Fastest Female –  Kathleen Lawrence
  1. Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

I participate in the BIST 5K because I love running and because of my work with people living with brain injury. This race is helping further community participation, raise money and increase brain injury awareness. To me, running is all about setting my own personal goals and working to achieve them, the BIST 5K allows opportunity to meet my own goals.

I started running in 2011 as I had always enjoyed doing physical activity and I found it to be an easy activity to integrate into my weekly schedule and to be a great form of stress management and effective to support my own work / life balance. In order to help motivate myself to commit to running, I registered and ran my first half-marathon in the fall of 2011. I definitely experienced a ‘runner’s high’ after that race and since then, I’ve completed many half marathons and races from 5 to 30 km. I ran my first marathon in 2015 and have since completed four full marathons including qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon this past spring! I enjoy running many races over each year but I always look forward to running the BIST 5K – this will be my third year participating in the event.

  1. What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

To me, heroes are people who overcome obstacles and challenges to achieve something great. I think the true heroes of brain injury are the survivors, they are the ones working hard to overcome brain injury barriers to engage in their daily activities. In my role as an OT, I try to listen to my client’s concerns and challenges while reflecting and utilizing their strengths to help them progress towards their goals. Being a hero of brain injury could be providing support, having a positive attitude, engaging in reflective listening or simply just being there at the right time. There are brain injury heroes all around us, survivors, friends, family, caregivers, health care and legal professionals, and other rehabilitation team members. We all work together to fight brain injury.

  1. What is your favourite part about race day?

I enjoy the whole atmosphere of the race. The BIST 5km always has a special atmosphere about it where people come together to achieve a common goal, not only about participating in the event but creating brain injury awareness. I like the social atmosphere of the race and being able to spend time with other people to learn about their personal victories related to the event. There are always so many great success stories that occur at the BIST 5K; from just being able to attend the race, to running a first 5 km, to setting a personal best time – it is all about celebrating personal accomplishment. I also enjoy the feeling of crossing the finish line!

Fastest Male: Garvin Moses

RUN TIME: 19 min 40 sec

Fastest male runner at the BIST 5k Run, Walk or Roll every year - Garvin Moses
Faster than a speeding bullet: Garvin has won fastest male at our 5K since we began doing this race in 2011!
  1. Tell us a bit about your work:

The Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario (NRIO) was my introduction to ABI and this field. I applied here shortly after graduating from the University of Windsor. I started off working as a rehabilitation therapist and slowly worked my way through the organization. I have been with NRIO for almost nine years and I currently manage two of their residential programs in Mississauga and south Etobicoke. Although at times it can be difficult managing two programs I have a great team of staff and therapists around me. I also really love the diversity of the two sites. The Mississauga program deals with more slow to recovery and non-ambulatory individuals, the south Etobicoke residence known as the SLA (supported living apartments) deals with higher functioning individuals and allows them to engage in rehabilitation in a much more independent environment. Working at the two different sites gives me an opportunity to work with two very different sub-groups of individuals as well as work with them in different points of their recovery.

  1. Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

Put quite simply, I run the BIST 5K every year because I enjoy it. I have participated in the BIST run since it first started in 2011* and really enjoy the crowd that it attracts. I remember a few years where it was pouring rain and passing people on the road wearing ponchos and a huge smile on their face. I think BIST is about community and bringing people together and this is definitely an opportunity to do just that

  1. What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

I would never really categorize myself as a hero. As I mentioned earlier, I’m only able to do what I do because of the great people I work with. More times than not, I’m telling my clients that they are the ones who motivate me whether it’s being able to say a family member’s name for the first time, ambulating stairs, or finishing high school when they thought they would never be able to. In some cases, it could be finishing that 5K race they have been training for all year long.

  1. What is your favourite part about Race Day?

I really do like the sense of community that is involved in this race. It allows survivors and service providers to come together in a non-threatening environment. From a selfish perspective, I also enjoy hanging out by the finish line to see the smiles and looks of fulfillment as people cross the finish line.


Jenn Bowler is a social worker in the Trauma Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is a member of the BIST 5K Run, Walk, & Roll Committee.
 

What we don’t like to think about, but need to prepare for

Do you ever think, what would you do if your spouse was in a serious accident?

20170304_200345
Theresa and Norm McColl at Theresa’s college graduation.

Who pays the bills? How are they paid? Do you have access to your spouse’s bank account?

And the big question: do you have a will and power of attorney (POA)? Do you know where they are?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, I applaud you. You are prepared.

Regardless of our age, many of us think we’re too young to worry about the practical details of what would happen if we or our spouse were suddenly seriously injured or deceased. These are difficult topics to talk about, and we are like to think ‘it’ll never happen to me’. That’s what my husband, Norm, and I thought.

One day, we drove past a place that did wills and power of attorneys. Norm said, “We don’t need a will and power of attorney.”

But something in me felt differently, and I insisted we get them done.

I am so glad we did. A little while later, on Thursday, April 28, 2011 things changed for us forever when Norm was in a very serious car accident.

20170304_195518
This photo collage represents Norm’s passions before his injury. From top (R-L) logos from Guelph Storm Hockey, Kinsmen Club, Guelph Fire Department and Guelph Radio Station.

The pickup truck he was driving was T-Boned and ended up underneath a tracker trailer.

Norm was only able to mumble his name and where he worked before he lost consciousness. He was air lifted to Sunnybrook Hospital from where we live in Guelph. He had several broken bones, and we were soon to learn, a traumatic brain injury.

Until then, Norm lead a busy life. He worked at the firehall and had a radio show. He was, and continues to be, a Kinsmen.

Norm’s injury changed my world in countless ways, including the practical ones. Until then, he had been the bill payer and, in large part, the provider. In an instant, those duties became mine. I had no idea what to do, and I needed to find our POA.

All of our bank accounts and bills were under Norm’s name, and I needed the POA to gain access to them. Without the POA, who knows how long it would have taken before I could start to live and pay bills.

Norm and I at are 30th anniversary open house at the Elliott

A post shared by Theresa McColl (@mccolltheresa) on

I am very grateful Norm listened to me that day when we were out for a drive. I am glad that our wills and POA were in effect. If we had just said, “Oh, that’s just for old people,” and drove by, I would have been in a heck of a mess.

After hearing my story,  what are you waiting for? Are you prepared?

Please don’t wait, tomorrow, may be too late.


After her husband’s injury, Theresa went back to school to become a Personal Support Worker. She has taken courses in brain injury, and is now a full time caregiver. You can follow her on Instagram, HERE

Super Simple, Decadent Salted Caramel Sauce

BY: CHEF JANET CRAIG

This simple, decadent sauce for either fresh fruit or ice cream is the current trend, ‘salt with sweet.’ Enjoy this weekend, or, heck, anytime!

2017-08-07 14.24.33

4 cups white sugar

¾ cup boiling water

3 sticks salted butter (1.5 cups)

¾ cup whipping cream

4 tsp salt – this is where you can use specialty salts such as Fleur de Sel (find out how to fake speciality salts, HERE)

  1. In a heavy saucepan, place sugar on medium heat and watch it caramelize. This is a lengthy process and you can’t leave it. Stir with a wooden spoon – not a metal one – as this will get too hot to hold.
  2. When the mixture is as golden as you wish (it turns brown quickly) remove from heat.
  3. Carefully pour in boiling water, stirring constantly.
  4. Add butter and whipping cream and keep stirring until texture becomes creamy.
  5. Add salt to taste.

This recipe can be halved. I store it in sterilized jars in the fridge for two weeks or freeze it for a gift.

Chef Janet Craig’s recipes are simple, healthy, delicious and ABI friendly.  You can find out more about her HERE.

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