The problem with brain injuries are that they are mostly invisible.
Other people can't see the damage done inside the skull but they can see the difference almost immediately - the problems with memory, emotions, depression and fatigue.
Even the person with an acquired brain injury can't see what the matter is, although they can certainly feel the headaches and other physical issues. As a result, they can't help but believe as if their brain has turned against them, refusing to do the work it used to do without conscious effort.
As reporter Peter James has shown in his ongoing series on brain injuries, it's all but impossible for those who have suffered serious brain injuries to get their previous lives back, not just for themselves but for their friends and family.
"Some of my friends don't understand what's actually happening with my depression, my headaches and some of them just say 'get over it' or 'stop feeling like that,' " said Harry Good, who was injured after being hit in the head at a bar 18 months ago. "But you can't just stop."
Worst of all, the harder the victims of brain injuries push themselves, the more they hurt themselves and set back their recovery.
"You want to push through it," Clayton Dyck said. "But when you push through it, it just kicks you in the butt and the next day you're just useless."
Dyck was hurt two years ago in a car crash. One two-hour shift per week at Tim Hortons in the Hart now tires him out. Dyck, a former full-time manager at AimHi, has also had to make awkward adjustments.
"I've gone from being a manager to a client and that can be very humbling," he said.
The Prince George Brain Injured Group celebrated its 25th anniversary in June and its founder and executive director Alison Hagreen is a nominee for Citizen of the Year. While Hagreen and her staff have done so much to help those with acquired brain injuries in Prince George, the lack of education and awareness continues to be a social problem.
As neurologists learn more about the inner workings, the more they find out how amazing the brain is as a machine but how fragile it is as well. Some of this knowledge is coming to light as researchers conduct posthumous studies of both healthy and harmed brains.
That's how Derek Boogaard was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, acquired from a career of hockey fighting that began with the Prince George Cougars and took him all the way to the NHL and an accidental overdose of prescription painkillers and alcohol at just 28 years old.
Human bodies have an amazing healing capacity, both physically and emotionally, but there's an obvious reason why our brains evolved inside a thick helmet of bone. It's the best way nature came up with to protect the human hard drive from potential harm. The noggin can take a fair amount of punishment but its contents cannot. The complexity of our brains makes understanding brain injuries difficult, which is why drugs only address the side effects and the only truly effective treatment to date is plenty of rest and time to heal.
Even then, the brain doesn't operate as it once did, as the long-time sufferers of brain injuries know.
Because we can't see it work, it's easy for us to take for granted what our brains accomplish, until an injury reminds us how everything we do depends on the smooth operation of the mush between our ears.
More work needs to be done to find ways to treat brain injuries but the best form of treatment will always be prevention and that's something everyone can do.