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Can J Occup Ther. 2011 Oct;78(4):237-45.

Brain injury from a first nations' perspective: teachings from elders and traditional healers.

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  • 1Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, 160-500 University Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada, M5G 1V7.



There is a lack of knowledge about how cultural ideas affect First Nations peoples' perception of rehabilitation needs and the ability to access services.


The study explored the perceptions of treating and healing brain injury from First Nations elders and traditional healers in the communities served by Wassay-Gezhig-Na-Nahn-Dah-We-lgamig (Kenora Area Health Access Centre).


A participatory action approach was used, leading to a focus group with elders and traditional healers. Findings, established through a framework analysis method, were member checked prior to dissemination.


Four themes arose from the data: pervasiveness of spirituality, "fixing" illness or injury versus living with wellness, working together in treating brain injury, and financial support needed for traditional healing.


Funding is required for traditional healing services to provide culturallysafe and responsive occupational therapy services to First Nations individuals with brain injury.

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