Sunday, July 7, 2013

Traumatic Brain Injury

I recently read Bob Greene's book, "When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams."

Greene, the noted author and journalist, spent several years with Jan and Dean, touring with their band as he worked on the book.  

Jan Berry, if you don't know, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1966 in a horrific car accident. Ironically, two years earlier the duo had recorded, "Dead Man's Curve."

Doctors didn't think Jan would live. In fact, police thought he was dead when they arrived at the scene of the accident. But Jan survived, miraculously, and returned to performing.

But it wasn't easy. From the book I learned that on the morning of each performance, Jan would be holed up in his motel room relearning the lyrics to the songs he would sing, some that he had written.

Jan was left with partial paralysis, but through personal dedication and countless hours in rehab, he was able to move on both legs. But it wasn't easy. One leg dragged when he walked. Greene relates in the book an occasion when some callous person hollered "Igor" at Jan while band members were walking back to their motel after a concert. I'm amazed people can be so cruel.

Another time, in Kansas City, Jan fell off the stage and had to be taken to a hospital. Through sheer determination, Jan bounced back and performed at the next concert. He was truly an inspiration, right up until he died in 2004 at the age of 62.

I'm writing this post because I hope people will be more understanding and caring of those who have suffered TBI. 

According to the Brain Injury Association:

  • 1.7 million people, including 475,000 children are diagnosed with TBI each year; and 3.1 million people live with a life-long disability.
  • 52,000 people die each year from TBI.
  • About 75 percent of TBIs each year are from concussions or other forms of mild traumatic brain injury.
  • TBI is a contributing factor to 30.5 percent of all injury-related deaths in the United States.
We know TBI can happen in many ways -- car accidents, falls, sports injuries, assaults, etc. -- to anyone.

And we've seen our military men and women return from foreign countries with TBI. From 2000-2012, according to data from the Defense Medical Surveillance System, there have been 194,561 mild, 42,063 moderate, and 6,476 severe cases of TBI.

I sincerely hope people will show more compassion to those who have suffered from TBI.

Until the next time...

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