Anthony Aquan-Assee

Ontario Brain Injury Association

On September 23, 1997, I sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury and my life was re-directed as I was involved in an extremely serious motorcycle accident.

When the paramedics arrived at the scene of the accident I was VSA – Vital Signs Absent. I wasn’t breathing, I didn’t have a pulse, I wasn’t responsive to any stimulation and I was bleeding from my nose, ears, eyes and mouth. All signs of very serious brain damage.

They rushed me to the closest hospital to the scene of the accident, Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga. Due to the extent of my injuries I was then airlifted to St. Michael’s Trauma Hospital in Toronto.

It was at St. Michael’s Hospital where I underwent numerous life-saving surgeries.

Not only was I in a very deep coma and remained in a coma for two weeks, but I also sustained numerous life threatening internal injuries.

These injuries required the following surgeries:

  1. Neurosurgery to reduce the swelling in my brain;
  2. Open heart surgery to repair my badly damaged heart;
  3. Lung surgery to repair my badly injured lungs;
  4. General surgery to remove my spleen;
  5. Vascular surgery to repair my ruptured femoral artery;
  6. General surgery to repair my lacerated intestines;
  7. Orthopaedic surgery to repair my broken knee; and,
  8. Plastic surgery to repair the broken bones in my face (broken nose, jaw, cheek bone and bone above left eye).
I was not expected to live as a result of all these injuries. However, through my persistence and my determination as well as the support that I received I was given the gift of a second life and a second chance, which in essence was an opportunity for me to start over again.

After 2 months in the Neuro-Trauma Intensive Care Unit (ICU) my health improved enough for me to be transferred out of the ICU to a private room on the neurological floor. It was around this time that my family realized that a lawyer with expertise in the area of brain injuries would be necessary. After hearing positive reviews about Thomson Rogers, my father arranged a meeting at their Bay St. office. My father met two lawyers, Mr. Lawrence Mandel and Mr. David Tenszen, to discuss my situation. They were very helpful and informative, so much so, that my father agreed to have them represent me.

I had just finished eating lunch in my hospital room at St. Michael’s when David Tenszen, a tall, distinguished looking gentleman, walked into my room. Standing at the end of my bed, David looked at me with compassion in his eyes. His look told me he understood the hell I was going through. My father had told me about his coming visit and I knew I would have to sign a document. David handed me a pen. With my signature, David Tenszen of Thomson Rogers entered my life and proved to be a great support. From that day on he made me feel understood and respected. I was confident that David Tenszen and Thomson Rogers would represent and advocate for my rights.

The people who played a vital role in my recovery and my mission to start over were my family and the health care professionals at St. Michael’s Hospital and at Credit Valley Hospital.

My mother and father were important advocates for me and continue to be very understanding and supportive in my journey through brain damage.

My two younger brothers, Jonathan and Michael also play an important roll in my recovery.

The surgeons and health care professionals at St. Michael’s Hospital and at Credit Valley Hospital demonstrated a great commitment to my health.

As part of Thomson Rogers support and advocacy, David Tenszen connected me with the Ontario Brain Injury Association. As a brain injury survivor I know how important it is to feel supported through the journey of recovery. I am grateful that the Ontario Brain Injury Association was there to support me and my family.

My goal was to return to teaching. The Ontario Brain Injury Association was instrumental in reaching this goal, by inviting me to speak at many of their conferences. Allowing me to share my story and the amount of work involved with practicing my speeches helped in my recovery both physically and emotionally.

I would be remiss not to mention the tremendous support I received from my parents and two brothers.

The Ontario Brain Injury association provides support on so many levels, including their 1-800 support line, advocacy, working with children in schools and also their peer support program.

Acquired brain injury can be devastating. For those that have to deal with a brain injury first hand it can be a lifetime of frustration, hardship and isolation. OBIA believes it doesn’t have to be this way. They are committed to providing ongoing support either directly or through one of their 21 affiliated Community Associations across the province.

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Ontario Brain Injury Association

The Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) was founded in 1986 by families in order to assist others whose lives have been affected by acquired brain injury (ABI).

The mission of OBIA is to “enhance the lives of Ontarians living with acquired brain injury through education, awareness and support”. OBIA is dedicated to supporting both survivors of brain injury, caregivers and professionals.

Acquired brain injury can be devasting. Beyond the individual’s impairments, there can be expenses, misunderstanding and doubts. For those that have to deal with a brain injury first hand it can be a lifetime of frustration, hardship and isolation. We believe it doesn’t need to be this way. OBIA is committed to providing ongoing support either directly or through one of our 21 affiliated Community Associations across the province. Since our inception we have received over 90,000 calls on our helpline.

There is no cost associated for survivors or family members who access OBIA Support Services.

Some of our support includes:

  1. Information including:
    • answering questions about brain injury issues, disability benefits, rehabilitation program, auto insurance, etc.
    • making one aware about the services and benefits that they may be entitled to receive.
    • suggesting questions that should be asked of medical and legal professionals.
    • explaining some of the terms and language used by doctors and lawyers.
  • Connecting families and survivors with one of our 21 local afffliated Community Brain Injury Associations.
  • Providing support to survivors of ABI and caregivers by assisting with income support programs such as WSIB, ODSP, CPP and other return to work issues.
  • Assisting with access the resources available within one’s community.
  • Advocating on a child’s behalf with schools when they return to learn after an injury.
  • Assisiting with return to work after a brain injury.
  1. Province Wide Peer Support Program
    • OBIA’s Provincial Peer Support Program connects persons with lived experience (the Mentor) with an individual who is living with the effects of acquired brain injury who requires the support (the Partner). The program is available to survivors, family members and/or unpaid caregivers.
    • Mentor/Partner matches are time specific and are made based on similar experiences, needs and personal interests. The program is coordinated through the local brain injury associations across Ontario, making it possible for people to be ‘matched’ province wide.
  2. Online Concussion Support Group
  3. North Eastern Advocacy Specialist
    • Pilot project with a advocay specialist in North Eastern Ontario assisting directly with issues such as access to services, housing, mental health and addictions.
  4. Systemic Support
    • Advocating on behalf of caregivers and survivors of brain injury for more services
    • Giving input on legistraltion that relates to brain injury
    • Invovlement in research that directly impacts outcomes for people living with ABI
  1. Publications
    • Quarltey Magazine
      The “OBIA Review” is our quartley magazine providing up-to-date information about brain injury issues and resources. It also provides our members with a forum to share some of their own experiences.
    • Educating Educators About ABI Manual
      Teaching classroom teachers how to accommodate students living with the effects of ABI,
    • Concussion Booklets

Awareness is a major goal of the Ontario Brain Injury Association. We are committed to creating a greater awareness of the incidence and impact of acquired brain injury. Few people recognize that brain injury is the number one cause of death and disability of persons under the age of 45. In children under the age of 16, brain injury accounts for more deaths that all other causes combined.

Research Study and The OBIA Impact Report
Since 1989 OBIA has been researching the personal cost of acquired brain injury and its effects on survivors and caregivers. The study focues in on the how the injury was sustained and services utilized, the daily impact of the injury, impact on recovery and the impact on Caregivers. OBIA published The OBIA Impact.

Education and Training
The education and training department of OBIA, in conjunction with Brock Universisty, has been offering certificate training courses in Home & Commuity Based Rehabilitation since 1994. Over 8,000 students including homecare workers, rehabilitation workers, educators, support workers, family caregivers, program managers, supervisors, case managers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, nursing staff, medical consultants and psychologists, etc. have graduated from our training programs. An additional 3,000 people have taken OBIA’s Brain Basics Program as well.
Watch how OBIA is Making a Difference >

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