Letter from our Founder, Mark Watson
For over 15 years, I have worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and brain injuries and learned what is possible in transforming lives and outcomes for individuals, families, communities around the world. In that journey, building and leading the Watson Centre Society for Brain Health (“The Watson Centre”) has been one of the most inspiring and challenging milestones in the journey.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Acquired brain injury (ABI) is a major health issue and a major economic issue. In North America, there are over 1.5 million individuals living with a TBI related disability. While some individuals recover within three-months following their injury, roughly 50% continue to suffer with moderate-to-severe disabilities after one year. The current standard and availability of care are not meeting the needs and more community-based resources are urgently needed. This needs to change.
At the Watson Centre, we are proud to say that we have been successfully serving clients with brain injury in our programs and through research since 2015. Our mission is to provide programs, delivered by specialists, for the purpose of helping people with brain injury to improve and reclaim their lives to the fullest.
“Our mission is to provide programs, delivered by specialists for the purpose of helping people with brain injury to improve and reclaim their lives to the fullest.”
Since then we have been a part of two clinical research studies at the University of British Columbia, both of which had positive outcomes which have been presented at national and international conferences. We have served over 50 clients at Watson Centre, with over 77% return to work outcome rate compared to the average 40% return to work reported rates in BC and globally—a game changer for individuals and communities affected by TBI and Acquired Brain Injury. We have served firemen, teachers, mothers, and students and given them a path forward. This is particularly significant that all these individuals had accessed other forms of rehabilitation and were unable to return to work or their habits of daily living without this care. We have illustrated our program’s ability to serve individuals with stroke, concussion, traumatic brain injury, and anoxic brain injury following overdose. Through this program we have seen not only individuals, but families have a path to hope, sustainability, accessing jobs and their aspirations. What sets us apart as a non-profit, is access to a scalable, evidence-based program, that creates sustained long-term impacts in individuals’ lives.
“What sets us apart as a non-profit, is access to a scalable, evidence-based program, that creates sustained long-term impacts in individuals’ lives.”
This means, as a non-profit, we are able to build from donor investments and impact an increasing number of people, in ways that can completely transform their lives. At the Watson Centre we have a bold, ambitious vision for what is possible, given the milestones we have already achieved to date. Core to this vision is to serve those who have no other options, particularly those in need, in BC and beyond.
Who We Are
Since 2017, The Watson Centre Society for Brain Health (“Watson Centre”) has been working in the community with individuals with Traumatic Brain -Injury (TBI) and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)—who haven’t been able to return to an independent, quality life following injury. To date, we have:
· Helped over 50 clients improve their quality of life; allowing them to return to their work, their role as parents, family members and spouses
· Helped almost 80% of our clients return to work following the program – almost twice the average return to work following other programs in BC, and globally
· Served fire service staff, teachers, executives, students, parents, including individuals with stroke, anoxic brain injury, and many other related conditions
Scope of the Problem
Brain Injury is a major health issue in Canada with over 1.5 million Canadians living with a brain injury. While severity of the brain injury can vary, even a ‘mild’ brain injury can have severe implications for years. 100,000 Canadians suffer a brain injury every year and 10 – 20% will have ongoing symptoms. Unfortunately, care is either difficult to access or non-existent to many of these persistent cases leading to 10,000 Canadians living a reduced quality of life.
Beyond the direct impact brain injuries have on individuals, research has shown that brain injury is linked to many other societal concerns, including crime and homelessness. People with TBI were 1.5-3 times more likely to be involved with criminal justice system than those without. For homeless populations, approximately half have suffered a TBI and of those 70% reported to have suffered their first injury prior to becoming homeless.
Access to Care
Awareness around brain injury is improving. However, a lot more is needed. As an ‘invisible’ injury, many individuals continue to face pushback and denial that they have a problem, leading to many additional health issues including anxiety and depression. Furthermore, the current medial system is ill-equipped to help many of these individuals as care is predominately focused on saving lives and recovering physical function, while not addressing the cognitive side.
The 4-Pillar Program
The program consists of 4 key pillars:
- Cognitive Rehabilitation
- Aerobic Exercise
- Mindfulness and Counseling
- Integrated Health Tracking
Our Personal Impact
The Watson Centre has touched a number of individuals’ lives, and the stories our clients have to share are unique, touching, and transformative.
For 26 years post-injury, Dan was functioning with limited mobility, speech impediments, slow processing and limited social interactions. Dan had tried a number of different traditional care programs before he came to the Watson Centre – which beat all expectations by providing an unprecedented change in his functioning, processing, and mobility, even 26 years post-injury!
Dan’s case proves the personal impact of neuroplasticity and the brain’s constant potential to change.
“The best way to sum it up is that I’ve become a better version of myself.” – Dan, TBI survivor, 26 years post-injury”
Our Impact to Date
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