Mother Raising Awareness About Brain Injuries

April 12, 2022

A mother of a school student who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash spent the month of March promoting its status as Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Helen Cart used the month, recognised annually by the Brain Injury Association of America, to raise awareness of on-island services and therapies, encourage brain injury prevention and set up a support group for survivors to share their experiences.

In March last year, her son David Goonewardene, who is now 17, suffered a brain injury after a car he was a passenger in struck a wall on Knapton Hill Road in Smith’s.

Ms Cart said she considers every day as brain injury awareness month and is determined to continue increasing awareness and offering support for survivors and caregivers.

Helen and David Bermuda April 5 2022

“As a starting point, I think our first Brain Injury Awareness Month went really well,” Ms Cart told Bernews.

“I know the month is over, but we continue to try and do as much as we can.

“The leading cause of brain injury in Bermuda, to the best of my knowledge, is road traffic accidents.

“It’s people not wearing seat belts whether in the front seat or the back seat, stupid driving, or not fastening helmets properly.

“We’ve been trying to raise awareness about the injury itself. Physical scars can be minimal or not visible, but survivors often struggle because the naked eye can’t see what they are going through.”

There are ten types of brain injury, traumatic or non-traumatic, ranging from mild to severe and often caused by brain tumours, strokes, or road accidents.

Ms Cart said that some survivors struggle with social communication skills and completing day-to-day activities, leaving them isolated and feeling a loss of identity.

She added that support groups could be beneficial for survivors to share their experiences.

“We’ve held several virtual meetings, but we had our first in-person meeting at the Hamilton Princess last month,” she said.

“It was mainly for survivors to chat because they can feel pretty isolated.

“Emotional and social support is so important, and it was good to get them talking and sharing their experiences so they can share a bond. They really need that support.

“To have people on that same page as them is so important.”

Ms Cart’s son spent a month in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital intensive care unit before being airlifted to Boston Children’s Hospital where he stayed for a fortnight.

He also spent several months receiving care at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston and the Sargent Rehabilitation Centre in Rhode Island.

Ms Cart admits it was overwhelming trying to find therapeutic services which best suited her son in Bermuda compared with the US.

However, she stressed there was no shortage of resources on the island.

“We were in a position where we could get out of Bermuda and access facilities overseas, but we recognise that not everybody has that,” said Ms Cart, who launched the Bermuda TBI Survivors and Parents/Caregivers Support Group last year.

“We do have some good resources in Bermuda. Do we need more? Yes. We have some hidden gems across the spectrum: vision therapists, cognitive behavioural therapists, psychologists, neuropsychologists, physical therapists with neuro specification training, and speech therapists.

“It is a massive coordination to get to the right people who have the right expertise.”

Ms Cart believes it is equally important to create a support network for caregivers and help them navigate their traumatic brain injury journey.

“I recently posted on our Facebook page something that I read, that survivors are trapped in there, and caregivers are trapped out here,” she said.

“We don’t see and feel what they see and feel, and they don’t see and feel what we see and feel.

“It’s also about support for caregivers who may feel isolated.

“You don’t know what you’re doing, and it can be an incredibly isolating thing to go through.”

Ms Cart said anyone who had suffered a brain injury and their caregivers could contact her through the Facebook page here, by e-mail at or by phone on 704-2504.

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