• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Vanessa Zita Vanderidder

Hello my name is Marti McGrenere and my Survivor is Vanessa Vanderidder.

On June 7th, 2006 Vanessa sustained a TBI in a freak accident when she was on her lunch break from work. While she was waiting at a stoplight, an overloaded dump truck from a construction site sped by her car. Boulders were falling and breaking apart when they hit the ground. A 20-pound rock fragment bounced off the pavement, flew in her open car window and struck her in the head. Her skull was shattered leaving her frontal temporal lobe exposed. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Vanessa underwent several emergency surgeries as well as further planned surgeries.  She required years of therapy and rehabilitation to re-learn how to walk and talk again.  Her right side had a mild paralysis but it particularly impaired her right hand. Ironically, prior to her injury, Vanessa worked as a special needs teacher, assisting individuals with physical and cognitive injuries including those with a TBI. She decided to employ a strategy on herself that she used with clients: finger painting as a therapeutic means to strengthen fine motor skills.  Despite the great accomplishments made in therapy, Vanessa was unable to return to her former career following her accident.  She continued painting because she found the texture of the paint between her fingers to be soothing and she could get lost in the colors.  Rather than focus on her chronic pain she could redirect her thoughts to artful expression. Over the years Vanessa broadened her art form from oil finger painting to using a mixed and varied medium. She started creating paintings for her family and friends and was recently connected to an interior designer, who has paired Vanessa's paintings with her home designs.  Currently, with the assistance of her partner, Vanessa has a website and is on Instagram.  Her art has been shown in local galleries as well as being rented out for commercials and films.  Always an advocate for education and therapy, a portion of sales is donated to the London Ontario Brain Injury Association. Ten years’ post injury, Vanessa has a career again.  She is an artist, She is a survivor!

Please visit her website at or check out her Instagram @vzitaart.

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