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Concussion probable cause of terrible symptoms

A community fundraising effort has been started to help a family with expensive medical bills
Braden spends most of every day staying as quiet as possible, so as not to trigger his debilitating headaches.

By Bob Groeneveld/Langley Advance Times


There’s not much Braden VanWoudenberg can do right now.

Movement, sounds, light, interactions with people in ordinary situations… all are too taxing for the 20-year-old, and can bring on massively painful headaches, according to his father, Martin.

Diagnoses have been unclear, so the cause of Braden’s problems aren’t certain.

But his father believes it all goes back to two concussions his son suffered when he was in Grade 11 in school.

The first concussion came during a soccer game: “He was knocked unconscious,” said Martin.

And then, not long after, he was concussed again as a spectator.

There were some indications that the concussions had affected Braden, especially some uncharacteristic cognitive difficulties, as well as dizziness and intense fatigue, said Martin.

He said that, because of Braden’s youthful age, doctors have been reluctant to prescribe heavy painkillers.

The headaches and associated problems reached unprecedented intensities after a car accident earlier this year.

“He was nailed from behind by a big Ram truck,” said Martin.

But Braden’s older car was also quite skookum, so there was little damage, and he thought little of it.

Consequently, the mishap went unreported – which the VanWoudenbergs now regret, because there is no official record of the incident.

The accident occurred in January, but the onset of his severest headaches started in early February, so there’s no obvious connection.

Still, Martin is convinced that it contributed significantly to his son’s debilitating symptoms.

Subsequent MRIs have shown no bleeding or swelling on the brain, but Braden has been receiving treatment at the Advance Concussion Clinic, a private clinic that is not covered by BC Medical.

Braden worked as a warehouse shipper/receiver and was starting as a roofer about six months ago, said Martin, adding, “Clearly he can’t do either now.”

The cost of treatments “nearly bankrupted us,” said Martin. “We found ourselves thousands of dollars in the hole pretty quick.”

He said Braden’s work with a physiotherapist, athletic therapist, occupational therapist, and counselor initially cost $3,000 per month, but the clinic agreed to cut that in half.

“But even $1,500 per month is too much,” said Martin, who left his work as a teacher at Credo Christian School when he had a tumour removed from his pituitary gland a year ago in January.

He said he “never healed properly,” and he, too, suffers from excruciating headaches and an inability to be in public places.

Braden’s mother Nicole, a registered nurse, has also been unable to work for the past year.

The family’s church, the Langley Canadian Reformed Church, has been helping out, but that has not been enough to fill the huge financial gap that the family’s misfortunes have created.

The concussion clinic has estimated, based on similar experiences, that Braden will require three to six more months of treatment.

Martin said there has already been improvement in his son’s cognition and dexterity, but pain relief remains elusive.

A family friend, Jerome Lengkeek, describes the VanWoudenbergs’ situation as “a sad story of bizarre coincidences, but also a great example of hope being brought by a community that rallies around people in their time of need.”

A GoFundMe campaign for Braden has already raised more than $6,000 towards a $10,000 goal.

Martin said the campaign will “only go for Braden’s treatments.”

He is adamant that he will find other ways to deal with his family’s other financial concerns.

Braden’s GoFundMe account is at

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