Essex County Project Allows Brain Injury Survivors to Share Their Stories

brain mriEach year, more than 1,500 traumatic brain injuries are reported at emergency rooms in Windsor and Essex County. These injuries cause life-changing physical, psychological and emotional problems for victims, including difficulty walking, emotional outbursts and memory problems.

Essex County's Unmasking Brain Injury project is shining a light on the struggles of survivors of traumatic brain injuries. The program features 23 masks made by survivors of these injuries.

The masks allow victims to tell their stories and show people their struggles. The project is meant to pull back the curtain on brain injuries and allow victims to express their feelings, says Anna Jurak, executive director of the Ontario Brain Injury Association.

The masks were on display at the WFCU Centre from June 22 to 29. They were then on display at the Gino Marcus Centre from June 29 and July 6. The masks are now on display at the Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.   

Victim of 1993 Accident Still Struggles on Daily Basis

One of the participants, Kathy Worotny, designed hers so one side is painted to look like a bright yellow sun and the other looks like a lady bug.

The yellow sun represents what her life was like before her injury. Her life was bright and there was a lot going on. However, after the accident, getting through the day became very difficult. The lady bug on the other side of the mask represents survival because each day she struggles with something she does not remember how to do.

Recovering from the Injury

Worotny was injured in a car crash in 1993 when she was on her way to St. Anne's high school where she was a teacher. She was making a left turn onto Lesperance Road when an SUV hit the passenger side of her vehicle.

When she was pulled out of the car she was on the passenger side with her head in the glove compartment. Her tibia and knee were shattered and she was in a coma for several weeks.

Weeks after she came out of her coma, doctors had to use plates and screws to repair her knee and tibia. Worotny's brain injury made it so she had to relearn how to read, write, talk, feed and dress herself.

She was in the hospital for months before returning home. She never returned to teaching but she began volunteering with the OBIA.

Doctors told her she would probably not be able to read or write. However, she was not deterred and she enrolled in an office administration course at St. Clair College. She was able to complete the course in three years.

Unfortunately, she continues to have short-term memory problems. She also has a short fuse and gets angry a lot.

The Windsor personal injury lawyers at Greg Monforton & Partners know how difficult it can be to deal with the effects of a brain injury. These injuries occur in a variety of situations can be devastating to a victim's physical and emotional health.