What is a concussion?
Concussion, a form of traumatic brain injury, is the most common type of brain injury. Concussions are caused by a direct blow or jolt to the head, face or neck. Most well known for taking place in sporting activities, concussions can take many forms and happen for a variety of reasons, such as falls, crashes, assaults, motor vehicle accidents etc. It is important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion as soon as possible. Taking the right precautions to heal from a brain injury is key to the success of one’s recovery. Often described as ‘mild traumatic brain injury’, the effects of a concussion can be life changing.
Greta Cooper’s life before concussion
An avid photographer and advocate for Inclusion BC, Greta Cooper was on the path to retirement. Greta worked as an editorial photographer for local papers in Vernon, BC and held a position with Inclusion BC publishing a monthly magazine. She was looking forward to a new chapter of her life as she planned for her retirement. Would she end up volunteering, going back to school or getting a part-time job? Her life took a sharp turn from those possible plans in 2016.
95,000 motor vehicle accidents occur in BC annually
Driving at noon hour in Kelowna one day, Greta and her partner were struck by a work truck. It collided hard with the passenger side of the vehicle where she sat. “Someone came to us and told me to call 911, and I wondered, ‘How do I do that?’. I had the symptoms of a concussion but I thought that all my symptoms would pass in a week or so. I kept telling myself, ‘Soon I’ll be fine.’ ”
Persistent concussion symptoms
Greta’s partner Don describes her as a “go-getter” and an eternal optimist. He saw her try and take that attitude towards her concussion recovery. As symptoms worsened and her energy levels declined, she realized she was unable to return to her busy work and volunteer life. She began to feel socially isolated, away from her work relationships, struggling to manage pain and cognitive symptoms at home. She needed to take each day one at a time.
Healing from a concussion
Greta began seeing a counsellor to explore the sadness she was feeling in her life as a result of the ongoing effects of her concussion. What Greta initially took be depression, she discovered was grief. She was grieving the loss of her purposeful work, her social network and close relationships as daily living continued to be a struggle.
With the loving support of her partner Don and the caring attention of her daughter Ayla, Greta slowly began healing. She started exploring her creativity through various sporting and cultural activities. Her positive outlook and bright spirit were returning. Working hard daily on her recovery, Greta enjoys reading again, has returned to her AA community meetings and continues her photography practice.
Concussion resources and supports
Greta Cooper and her partner Don struggled to find the right help to assist Greta in her recovery. Although there are concussion supports and services throughout BC, many people don’t know how to access them. Explore our Repository to learn more about the concussion resources available in your area.
Life after concussion
Greta continues to improve her health, day by day. She has a deep gratitude for the abilities she maintains. Having returned to some of her favourite activities and social spheres, largely due to the support of her loving family, she is ready to tackle the “Now what?” question in her life with excitement. We thank Greta and her family for sharing her inspiring journey with us and look forward to seeing where life takes her.