Brain injuries the most prevalent disability.

Times-Herald Staff
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A bus ride to school changed the life of Emilia Becker.

Leslie Good, a Moose Jaw brain tumor survivor works on a bird house at Brain Injury Survival and Family Camp.

The then 11-year-old sustained a diffuse axonal injury when the school bus ran a yield sign and hit a Canadian railway patrol vehicle.

"It was first diagnosed as a concussion but it was a lot more serious than we first thought," Becker, now 19, told the Times-Herald.

Because of the Diffuse Axonal injury — which Becker explained is a fancy term for a moderate brain injury — she suffered immediate side-effects. As she walked down the hospital hallway she couldn't walk without dragging her feet and couldn't draw a straight line.

"I didn't remember the day of the accident or the summer before. I lost my sense of sweet and I couldn't even sit up on my own for a lot of the time. I had trouble walking to the bathroom and the car. I had to do a lot things with assistance and had physical and intellectual challenges," she said.

It's been a long road for Becker. She has seen major improvement, yet says she still "suffers with symptoms." 

According to the Brain Injury Association of Canada, Becker is one of 1.5 million Canadians living with a brain injury, which surpasses those with multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injuries and breast cancer combined. Each year 100,000 Canadians will suffer a brain injury, which will cost the Canadian economy $3 billion.

Becker is an ambassador for Brain Injury Awareness Month during the Month of June and has four speaking engagements booked across the province. She will be encouraging the audience to be patient with yourself after you have sustained a brain injury.

"You are obviously not going to be the same and it takes determination and it takes practice and you are going to have to work on things or they won't get better," she said. "You just have to keep breathing ... there is a time for work and there is a time to be patient and relax and enjoy the little things."

Glenda James, executive director of the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA) told the Times-Herald that people aren't aware of what a brain injury is and what it means to the person with the injury and their family.

"What we want to do is encourage people to be aware of it because that is the first step in prevention and the second step is to take some measures to protect yourself," said James.

James said one program the SBIA uses to encourage people is Save Your Mellon, which encourages people to wear their helmets during cycling and skateboarding.

"When you could be moving at a fair clip, you might take a fall," she said.

Moose Jaw won't have any awareness programs this month because the SBIA want the focus to be provincial. The primary event will be a survivor and family camp held at Arlington Beach on June 13-15.

"It's a really big event for brain injury survivors and their families. They just love going out to the lake and being with other people, where they can meet some people that they may have something in common with," said James. "What we find is a lot of friendships are formed."

For more information on the camp and other programs offered by the SBIA check out

Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.

Organizations: Times-Herald, Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association, Brain Injury Association of Canada

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Arlington Beach

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