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Kevin Pearce was living the dream until he suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. An international snowboarding sensation, Pearce was training for the 2010 Olympic trials when he did a trick and crashed. His Olympic dreams were dashed but not his fighting spirit.
Pearce and his brother founded Love Your Brain, an organization which supports brain injury survivors and their caregivers. He also helps by sharing his story, which is proof positive that it's possible to recover from a traumatic brain injury. That is good news because they seem to be increasingly common.
Brain Injury Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control, looking at data between 2001 and 2010, In general, combined rates for traumatic brain injury-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths have increased over the past decade. Every year, there are over 1.5 million traumatic brain injuries that result in hospitalization, emergency care, or death.
Although the results may be dramatic, not all brain injuries are caused by extreme activities. Any kind of trauma to the head or neck can cause the brain to bruise, bleed, swell or tear, and these injuries are caused by falls, accidents, playing sports, physical labor, and more. However a brain injury happens, it is a very serious matter and must be addressed immediately.
Open or Closed?
There are different types of brain injuries: open and closed. An open injury refers to a fractured skull whereas a closed brain injury indicates internal trauma, such as swelling or formation of dangerous blood clots inside the skull. A closed injury is no less severe than an open brain injury and may even be more dangerous.
How Do You Know?
Some brain injuries are obvious. Kevin Pearce crashed doing a double flip on a half-pipe that's considered highly risky in the snowboarding business. "There's a couple different versions of Double Cork," Pearce told The Telegraph in 2014. "A Double Cork is when you do two flips and while you're flipping you're spinning as well, so you have both of these motions going on and you have to land correctly in the half-pipe wall."
He did not land correctly and smashed his head on the ice. Pearce's injury could have killed him, but it did not. His recovery from that injury is documented in a film aptly called "The Crash Reel."
But not every brain injury is that obvious. In fact, evidence of trauma may not manifest immediately after an accident or activity. Warning signs include confusion and dizziness, difficulty remembering, unusual sluggishness, and severe headaches. If you experience these, see a physician.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, sporting activity, or otherwise, consult with an attorney about options for recovery. Not every injury is compensable but you may have a basis for a lawsuit. Speak to a lawyer.