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The life-changing consequences of traumatic brain injury

A few weeks ago, we reminded readers that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. By now, most of us have heard the facts and statistics about brain injury, especially its association with contact sports and veterans returning from war.

But facts and statistics cannot fully convey the difficulties of living with and recovering from a traumatic brain injury. In a recent online opinion piece, one woman who survived a severe traumatic brain injury explains how it changed her entire life.

The woman does not say how she suffered the injury beyond falling and hitting her head on the pavement. She was just 27 at the time, and was pursuing a career in the information technology industry.

The first year after her injury was spent undergoing multiple surgeries, receiving around-the-clock care from her family and relearning how to do even basic things like walking and feeding herself. The promise of her career was over, and she knew she would likely live the rest of her life with chronic pain and certain disabilities.

The woman says the brain injury’s consequences were even more devastating to her cognitive skills and her social life. She has difficultly remembering things. All of her emotions are amplified to extreme levels. When she gets overloaded by too much noise and light, her brain “shuts itself off.”

The woman who wrote the article is now in her late 40s and seems to have achieved quite a bit since her injury. But nearly 20 years after the fact, she felt compelled to share her story and a simple message: protect your head, especially by wearing a helmet.

West Virginia requires that all motorcyclists wear a helmet when riding. Unfortunately, not everyone does this. And many bicyclists also choose to ride without the protection of a helmet. Even if you are a careful rider, you can’t predict or control the actions of others. Because your brain is so very important, please choose to wear a helmet whenever (and whatever) you ride.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, “Before riding without a helmet, know what a brain injury is like,” Amy Morosini, March 3, 2015

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