A new documentary is shining a light on the hidden world of brain injuries, in hopes more services will be made available to the hundreds of people who go undiagnosed.
A Change of Mind is a TV documentary narrated by Derrick Forsyth, a brain injury survivor. It follows a handful of survivors and tells the story that most people with brain injuries look fine, yet they’re severely altered mentally. The documentary also includes experts from Victoria.
Forsyth was originally injured in 2009 when a five-ton truck smashed into the passenger side of his vehicle. It was two days after that Forsyth knew something was wrong.
He was hearing voices and went to the hospital, but was turned away because of his history, which included substance abuse and criminal activity.
Shortly after, he lost his job, girlfriend, home and ended up spending three years in jail for robbing a jewelry store, where he was eventually diagnosed with a brain injury. After being released, Forsyth was transferred to William Head Institution and was eventually accepted into the Cridge Centre for the Family’s Brain Injury Services supportive housing and rehabilitation program in Victoria.
Forsyth’s story, to go undiagnosed and then spiral into substance abuse and criminal activity, is not uncommon among survivors, said Geoff Sing, manager of the Cridge Brain Injury Services, which focuses on helping survivors move on and allowing them to live independently.
“They forget what time they have to be at work, that they have an appointment or that they’re meeting people and these could lead to negative outcomes. If you’re late for work, it could lead to unemployment,” Sing said. “The challenge with brain injury is that it’s like a snowflake, no two injuries are the same. There’s no straight path of recovery.”
According to the B.C. Brain Injury Association, there are 22,000 new brain injuries a year in the province, roughly 60 a day, ranging from a bump on the head or a minor concussion to major brain injury. Of that, roughly 1,650 new brain injuries occur in Greater Victoria annually, noted Sing.
It’s a number that could be much higher said Sing, adding a number of minor concussions are not reported and it is increasingly difficult to diagnose brain injuries.
The documentary, along with Sing, are calling for a greater understanding and increased services for those with brain injuries.
“Brain injury has no filter. It can happen to anybody at any time, rich, poor. It impacts anybody and everybody in our community,” Sing said.
“It’s important to get an understanding of brain injury and the prevalence. It’s important to understand that even though people have suffered a brain injury, we know, with proper supports, they can live successfully in community.”
B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon recently hosted a special screening of the film at Government House to educate people in government, health care and police judicial and social work committees.
A Change of Mind airs Saturday, Nov. 19 on Chek TV at 9 p.m.