Arden McGregor thought it was a joke.

The Huntsville-based psychologist and brain injury specialist is one of 47 people recently appointed to the Order of Ontario.

The province describes McGregor as a "compassionate humanitarian and a recognized leader in the brain injury community."

McGregor says her sister nominated her in secret. McGregor didn't find out until her cell phone rang just before Christmas.

"I don't recognize the name and number. I pick it up, and when I was told, I thought I was being pranked."

McGregor calls the honour "beyond exciting".

She has dedicated the last 30 years to helping survivors of brain injury and trauma to lead better lives.

McGregor and her husband moved to Huntsville in the early aughts and established two "Brainworks" rehabilitation clinics.

She hopes recognition of her work will help break down stigma around brain injury and mental illness, and prove that you don't need to live in a big city to get help.

McGregor will be officially honoured by the Lieutenant Governor when public gatherings are allowed.