Education key to understanding brain injuries

Jodi Schellenberg
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After experiencing a brain injury herself, Emilia Becker decided to share her story with others to raise awareness.

Becker came to Prince Albert to bring awareness to Brain Injury Awareness Month and spoke to city council about her own experiences.

Although you wouldn’t know to look at her, Becker was in an accident when she was only 11 years old.

The school bus she was riding at her hometown near Regina ran the yield side, hitting a Canadian Pacific Railway vehicle, causing the bus the flip and hit the opposite ditch.

“I actually don’t remember the day of the accident or three months prior,” Becker said. “I remember waking up in a truck and asking what happened and I remember waking up in the hospital and being asked to draw a straight line but I couldn’t do that.”

She received some physical injuries as well as a diffuse axonal injury, which is a type of moderate brain injury.

Not all brain injuries have the same symptoms -- Becker had physical, intellectual and emotional symptoms.

Becker said one of her physical symptoms was related to her right side, which was partially impacted and her right foot would turn in as she walked.

“I also lost a lot of memory,” she said. “I couldn’t do math to the same level as I could before, I forgot all of my Spanish and my French and I couldn’t read at the same level as I could before.”

To work on her physical symptoms they used reciprocal motion to relearn some skills.

They found her a bike to ride in the winter to retrain her brain to do some reciprocal motion activities that used to be fluid and intuitive.

“What used to be natural had to be relearned, such as actions like running and throwing,” Becker said.

In addition, she was an A-plus student before the accident, involved in activities such as tap, jazz, ballet, Girl Guides and voice lessons -- all of which changed overnight.

“I was somewhat embarrassed to have an injury like this and not be able to do any of the activities I could before,” Becker said. “Eventually I came to the point where I realized that just because you have an injury doesn’t mean that you’re any worse of a person or worse off.

“You can relearn things and you can do things in a different way if not in the same way as before,” she added. “You can retrain your brain and you can learn new ways to do things.”

Since it was difficult to do some of the activities she used to do, Becker found new hobbies.

Another problem she faced was lack of understanding from her peers.

“Since I was 11 years old, my friends didn’t have much experience with this type of an injury -- they didn’t understand why I looked the same way as before but would be failing my tests or not walking the same way,” Becker said. “That is why I would complain and say I wished I had a cast or some kind of scar -- a visible symptom of my injury.

“That is why I think it is really important to raise awareness now, so that people, even children, understand the symptoms of a brain injury -- that it might not be visible but it pops up throughout any aspect of your life.”

Although she has faced challenges due to her brain injury, Becker has persevered. She is now attending the University of Victoria.

Becker has also been very involved in raising brain injury awareness in the past few years. Instead of sitting idly by, she has been sharing her story at conferences and communities around Saskatchewan.

For more information about brain injuries visit


A potential helmet bylaw up for debate

- Tyler Clarke, Daily Herald

Drawing inspiration from the mayor’s proclamation of June as Brain Injury Awareness Month, Coun. Martin Ring wants council to have another look at helmets.

A mandatory helmet bylaw for people on bicycles was considered by the previous city council, who instead opted to bring the idea to the province as a whole.

With nothing coming of that, Ring wants to see city council have another look at the issue.

Although he wants the entirety of the city looked at under the bylaw’s umbrella, he wants special attention brought to the Kinsmen Skateboarding and BMX Park, where he’s noted injuries to have taken place in the past.

The city’s elected officials will consider two separate bylaws in future rounds of council meetings.

One will look at a citywide helmet bylaw and the other will look at a Kinsmen Skateboard and BMX Park-specific bylaw. 

Organizations: Canadian Pacific Railway, University of Victoria

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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