A new program in the works at Parkwood Hospital is aiming to help brain injury patients who are struggling with mental health issues due to their injuries.

And it’s a significant number.

“People with a brain injury can be four times more likely to suffer from mental health issues than the general population,” says the Lawson Health Research Institute's Dr. Eldon Loh.

The types of mental health issues patients with brain injuries experience can include, “Depression, anxiety - and another common mental health issue they can have after is behavioral issues so agitation, aggression and changes in personality,” the scientist says.

And, according to Loh, what adds to the problem is the lack of access and available mental health care for this population.

“There can be challenges in people who have brain injuries because sometimes they need quite a bit of help getting to those appointments and that has to be arranged.”

That’s why a team of Lawson scientists at Parkwood have been developing an online program that would deliver cognitive behavior therapy for these patients.

“It’s more about learning skills than just talking about your feelings, so we wanted to teach individuals skills that they can use to implement into their daily lives to help them manage their symptoms,” says Lawson scientist Dr. Swati Mehta.

It’s a 10-week program and Mehta says the team is hoping to recruit approximately 20 brain injury patients to study the effectiveness of this online approach.

“Then we will be asking the individuals who have gone through the program what we can do to make it better before we give it to a larger population to make sure it’s the best program we can bring forward.”

More information about this study can be found at: https://www.onlinetherapyuser.ca/neuro