"Creating a better life for those who suffer a brain injury is our goal"
Ottawa, July 9, 2013 - Ken Rekowski's life changed in an instant. Four years ago, he was involved in an accident that left him with a serious brain injury and damage to his right side. Today the 42-year-old Renfrew man still uses a wheelchair—but he is making steady progress in his recovery thanks in part to the help he received through a new referral service offered through the Champlain Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).
Acquired brain injuries (ABI) result from damage to the brain caused by a traumatic or non-traumatic event after birth. While approximately 44 individuals sustain a traumatic brain injury every day in Ontario, the Champlain region reported a higher incidence of it than the provincial average in 2009/2010, at 2.2 injuries per 1000 people. It is estimated that 1.5 million Canadians are living with an ABI right now.
Suzanne McKenna is the Champlain region's ABI Intake/System Navigator. In this role, she focuses on connecting ABI survivors with the supports and services they need to live better lives. Since the position was created in October 2011, she has helped over 120 individuals to connect with a diversity of privately and/or publically funded services that are available in the community.
The creation of this new position is the result of efforts by the Champlain ABI Coalition—which includes various ABI agencies, the CCAC and community partners —to advance care for ABI survivors and their families.
"By providing a single point of access, the ABI Navigator can guide survivors and caregivers who are unsure about where to start looking for care during this difficult time in their lives", says McKenna.
"The single point of access, through the ABI Navigator, not only helps to connect people with ABI health service providers, but it also enables us to build a common wait list and database so that we have a better understanding of ABI needs across the Champlain region", says David Walls, Executive Director, Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (a member of the ABI Coalition).
An ABI database, which includes a Primary Health Care Desktop Resource Guide, is now available on the
Champlain Healthline website. The database provides one-stop shopping for ABI services and supports throughout the regional health care system, including contact information for the ABI Intake/System Navigator.
Kareen Rekowski, Ken's twin sister, is grateful for the support her brother has received through the CCAC's ABI referral service and particularly the difference that Suzanne McKenna has made in her brother's life.
"Before meeting Suzanne, it was difficult to find the right help for Ken. We were struggling. In June 2012, she met with us at the hospital and connected Ken with NeuroGym Rehabilitation in Ottawa. He is now able to stand for longer periods and is making good progress. He is hopeful."