Last June, 11-year old Raegan Gilroy suffered a concussion while playing soccer at school. Although the impact appeared minor, Raegan started displaying signs of a more severe head injury. She was taken to her local emergency department where she received a CT scan of her brain to look for any potential bleeding which could be causing her memory loss and impeding her motor skills.
As a pediatric patient, Raegan could have benefitted from an MRI but due to lack of availability, a CT scan was chosen instead, which wouldn’t give enough information to tell the full story. A follow up with the family doctor led to an urgent visit to Sick Kids as her symptoms persisted and progressed.
Raegan didn’t know who she was and had reverted to the behaviour of a 4-year old. The pitch of her voice changed to be higher and child-like. Her tastes and interests reflected that of a 4-year old (she responded and loved Elmo again). Her headaches would cause such dizziness that she was unable to walk without someone holding her. Raegan developed tunnel vision and was unable to focus her eyes, leading to glasses and extensive therapy to retrain her mind and body to connect to the sights around her. For a long time, she couldn’t go into any overly-stimulating environments. “You couldn’t take her into a grocery store, it would be debilitating”, says her mother, Jamey Gilroy. “Raegan couldn’t remember her own name for 4 weeks. She couldn’t hold objects, couldn’t hold her own toothbrush.”
As part of her extensive recovery, Raegan’s physicians have requested an MRI to be performed. Raegan will have to wait 5 months before she gets an MRI, a wait time with which her mother is all too familiar. Gilroy is the Manager of Diagnostic Imaging and Echocardiography for the Collingwood G&M Hospital. She believes that having an MRI here locally will be of tremendous value. Not only for her daughter, but for both CGMH in-patients and visitors to the emergency department. “To not have to ship patients out of town or send nurses with patients will not only ensure our hospital can operate more efficiently, it will ensure our patients are examined in a timely fashion”, says Gilroy.
If in-patients need an MRI at the CGMH, a nurse must travel with that patient to another hospital, an hour’s drive away (in either Barrie or Owen Sound), taking them off the floor for up to 4 hours. Out-patients must find their own way there and often tests are done in the middle of the night. Coordinating with family members, driving in poor weather conditions or when physically unwell; all factors that increase anxiety and risk for the patient.
And one of the biggest factors? Long wait times. Jamey knows firsthand the agony of having to wait for an answer. Until the MRI is done, and the doctors can fully understand why Raegan has responded to the concussion this way, Raegan cannot return to sport, or any activity that may risk another head injury. There is a high chance if she sustains another head injury-and she has an underlying condition-she risks permanent damage to her brain; never to be able to return to sport. Raegan continues to suffer from PTSD from the impact of the ball and tends to stay away from anything that may seem like a direct threat or risk of another concussion.
Raegan is on the road to recovery, but her concussion care plan is a complex path forward with multiple steps along the way. For now, they wait for further understanding as to why her symptoms were so severe, and they are taking it a day at a time.
MRI service will help CGMH to advance safety, quality of care, and efficiency while improving access to care closer to home. This will be a tremendous benefit to inpatients and Emergency Department patients as well as those with significant cancer, stroke, orthopaedic, and emergency medical conditions. A significant portion of the hospital’s outpatients will experience far shorter wait times and will effectively end the requirement to travel for essential imaging care. The images produced from an MRI scanner could be the pictures that save your life, or the life of your loved ones. Please consider how you might help equip the Diagnostic Imaging Department at CGMH with state-of-the-art technology that will help reduce wait times and ensure quality care close to home.