“The last thing I remember was falling asleep the night before. I don’t recall the event at all,” says Jamie. Just 15 seconds into the competition while attempting a double back flip on the first jump, she crashed. Jamie suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that resulted in microbleeds throughout her brain and brain stem. She was flown to Vancouver General Hospital, where she remained in a coma for eight days.
What Jamie didn’t know was that she was the first patient in BC to undergo autoregulation monitoring, a technique where doctors determine the precise oxygen and blood pressure levels so a patient’s brain can rest.
“Jamie’s incredible recovery is due to the strength of our health system, acting swiftly to save her life,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Credit goes to the quick thinking of the doctors working in critical care medicine at Vancouver Coastal Health, who used innovative treatment that allowed Jamie’s brain the best chance at healing.”
“We were gravely worried that Jamie’s brain wasn’t receiving adequate life-sustaining oxygen levels,” said Dr. Mypinder Sekhon, Critical Care Medicine, Vancouver Coastal Health. “We inserted a catheter into her brain, which was attached to a monitor set, and then manipulated her blood pressure with powerful medications to make her heart pump harder. This allowed Jamie’s blood pressure to increase dramatically. As a result, her brain oxygen levels normalized over the ensuing hours." Jamie was kept in a medically induced coma to allow her brain to recover.
Today, Jamie is back skiing, with no noticeable signs of the injury that nearly claimed her life. “I had to learn everything again; How to walk and talk, and remember who I was and everyone I knew,” she says. “But I stayed strong and I healed. A big portion of my recovery is being happy – and I am so happy to be here to thank the doctors who helped saved my life.”
Since Jamie’s accident, 36 other patients have been treated with autoregulation monitoring at Vancouver General Hospital. “60 per cent of our patients have had favourable outcomes, compared to 37 percent with traditional treatment,” says Dr. Donald Griesdale, Critical Care Medicine, VCH. “This technique is giving severe brain trauma patients a better shot at recovering to the point where they are able to live independently.”
Dr. Griesdale and Dr. Sekhon studied the treatment at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and were instrumental in bringing it to Vancouver. “They deserve the credit,” said Dr. Brian Toyota, Head of Neurosurgery, Vancouver Coastal Health. “Jamie’s case embodies what we can achieve when care teams collaborate so patients have access to the best care possible.”
Initial funding for the computers and software for autoregulation monitoring was provided by VCH and the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation. The operating costs for supplies and capital costs for the equipment (monitors) are funded by Vancouver Coastal Health.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
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Vancouver Coastal Health