By Melissa Myers
“I’m never discouraged. I just keep going and keep moving. I’m never down or sad”
Taylor Corstorphine: graphic design artist; brain injury survivor.
Taylor Corstorphine is in his last year of a three-year Graphic Design program at George Brown, and earned his way into the program by achieving a grade higher than 3.0 on a photography portfolio he created in his first year. He created the portfolio in a course called Art Fundamentals.
He volunteered with the Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST) to create the poster for BIST’s 5km Run, Walk and Roll in September. Corstorphine says it is difficult to balance school and volunteer work, but he looks forward to more volunteer opportunities with BIST.
His interests at school and ambitions in graphic design include packaging and corporate design, which involves designing brand logos and product packages. Working out, reading, golfing and watching movies are some of his hobbies. Corstorphine loves to laugh and comedy is his favourite genre of movie.
In 2006, Corstorphine was hit by car while training for a Sporting Life 10 kilometre run with his high school gym class. He was knocked unconscious from the impact and was then put on life support and put ino a drug-induced coma once an ambulance delivered him to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He says that doctors at St. Michael’s said he had a one per cent chance to live.
After two and a half weeks in a coma, Corstorphine was finally pulled out of it and found himself in the intensive care unit of the hospital. Two months later he was transferred to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, where he stayed for six months.
Corstorphine had to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat properly. At rehab, he partook in physiotherapy, speech language pathology and began attempting simple math, English and art practices. He had to learn how to read and write again and, interestingly, he found himself more interested in art where he had preferred history and science beforehand. In this way, Corstorphine said he had experienced a sort of revival and had become a new person.
He said he remembers his mom being there for him and spending a lot of time with him while he was in rehab.
“My mom dropped everything and went to the hospital,” said Corstorphine. He said that his dad and sisters had a more difficult time accepting what had happened to him, but that his mom was and is really aware.
He said that a lot of friends came to visit him while he was in rehab, but that not all of them still visit with him. It seems some people have moved on with their careers, but Corstorphine says a couple of friends stuck around and still accompany him to events around the city.
Although he has a great family supporting him and has been able to live a goal-oriented life, Corstorphine still copes with many challenges due his acquired brain injury. For example, to stay successful at school he has to pace himself.
Corstorphine has made it through his program by taking four classes per semester instead of the usual six-course curriculum, making up the remaining classes in summer semesters. Another way he paces himself at school is by strategizing his coffee intake and taking after-school naps.
“I drink coffee in the morning, and one in the afternoon,” he said.
At school, Corstorphine uses a smartpen to record classes and has help taking notes. He utilizes several memory aid devices and also has a rehab support worker (RSW) who helps him to get off to a good start at the beginning of each semester. He said that he has been writing a lot of things down lately to help him remember what is going on at school.
Corstorphine said that although his short-term memory has been affected, his long-term memory still remains intact. He recalled his role on his soccer team before his accident.
“I was a ‘stopper’ (midfield/defensive player),” he said, mentioning that his head was his biggest asset as he used to stop the ball from entering his team’s defensive zone. He said he still enjoys playing soccer with friends whenever he has the opportunity.
Corstorphine also mentioned he had taught younger students English as a Second Language, or ESL, to fulfill his mandatory high school volunteer hours before his accident. He said he taught the students how to read and speak English at an elementary school downtown and that this volunteer position had been very rewarding for him.
Corstorphine seemed to have a very unique and positive outlook on life and didn’t want to focus on the way his daily life has been altered. Instead, he pointed to his successes and the way he will use the skills he has learned.
“I’m always moving forward,” he said, “that’s my motto.”
Melissa Myers is a BIST Communications Commitee member and is working toward her Bachelor of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto.