WHEN Vanessa Liston's Toyota Corolla crashed into a fully loaded log truck, the trajectory of the 18-year-old's life completely changed.
She would not ride horses again, nor would she follow her friends to university.
Instead, she would spend four months unresponsive in intensive care units in Melbourne and Hobart, before waking to the realities of life with a severe brain injury.
Now 24, the Launceston woman has learnt to walk and move every part of her body again, though she still has trouble concentrating, remembering and moving around.
``Mobility is my biggest frustration now, and not being able to find a job. I can keep good focus for a little bit, but I can't really work more than four hours,'' Ms Liston said.
``But I'm going to the gym, and I volunteer at St Vinnies, and I'm about to start volunteering at a nursing home a few hours a week.''
Ms Liston said yesterday she wanted to speak about her experiences to promote brain injury awareness week, which starts tomorrow.
She said like many brain injury sufferers, she was often misunderstood, with people often speaking to her like she was deaf or intellectually impaired.
``A lot of people confuse it with intellectual disability . . . and some people will treat me differently, won't talk to me and will avoid me, and I think that's because they don't know how to deal with it,'' Ms Liston said.
``I want to make people aware of the impact of brain injury, because I am often underestimated - even just for the fact I use walking sticks, and it's irritating that people will just think I'm useless because of that.''
For information on TABIS, visit www.tabis.org.au.
What's on ...
TASMANIAN Acquired Brain Injury Services will hold several events this week, including a carers morning tea tomorrow, an acquired brain injury awareness evening at its Invermay building at 6pm on Tuesday, a barbecue in Launceston for clients on Wednesday from 12.30pm, and an art exhibition opening at Launceston's Fresh Cafe on Thursday from 6pm.
At St Helens on Thursday, there will be an art program opening from 11am to 1pm, a celebratory lunch at the Bayside Inn at 1pm, and an acquired brain injury awareness meeting at 5.30pm at the Bayside Inn.
RSVP is essential for all events. Call 6326 2022.