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Traumatic Brain Injury: The Hidden Epidemic Nobody Wants to Talk About

“Right after the hit I was in the back of the ambulance feeling really good, letting go of all my problems… the world seemed so far away,” Keith explains of his near-death experience.

“I could hear the EMT screaming — he said he thought he lost me — but it sounded like I was in a bubble. The feeling reached an amazing point where if I already had done the things that I wanted with my life, I would have let go.”

Traumatic Brain Injury: The Hidden Epidemic Nobody Wants to Talk About

He points out the injuries on his face, including an eye patch that he wears since his motorcycle crash last summer. An outgoing and successful 30-year-old software engineer, the traumatic brain injury (TBI) from his accident caused brain swelling that left him with cranial nerve damage and other life-altering symptoms. His ambulance experience may have been part of the hallucinations that occur as your brain and body are failing, but Keith looks back at that moment as much more.

“The day before the accident my thoughts were around needing more money, getting a bigger place, getting more girls – things that don’t matter. I was in typical young, single guy mode,” he says openly.

“It sucks to be in this position, but I’m a better person because of my accident. It made me see that my life can end at any moment and I have more self-respect now.” Since then, he has tried to learn more about his TBI following a surprising hospital experience. “I was disappointed by the fact that they couldn’t fix me at the hospital. Even though I have a really good doctor, they don’t even fully know what’s going on in my brain now.”

This dramatic tale may seem like something from fiction, but it’s actually more common than most realize, especially considering that every twelve seconds a person in America sustains brain damage. You didn’t misread — count to twelve and someone, somewhere in the U.S. has experienced a traumatic brain injury.

The math is quite simple. There are 31.5 million seconds in a year. When you divide this by the 2.5 million civilians and military members who are diagnosed with a new TBI annually, your result is the same as the number of cranial nerves in the human brain – twelve. [1], [2]

A traumatic brain injury occurs when an external force impacts the brain and impairs certain functions. In a fraction of a second after a car collision, the driver and passenger’s heads can smash into the windshield at the same speed that the vehicle was moving, even as the car frame is buckling. It’s no surprise that the majority of reported TBIs are results of motor vehicle crashes, with almost half of those hospitalized experiencing long-term disability. [3], [4] Accidental falls, rough play, and contact sports may also lead to TBI, and research has shown that 50 percent of all injuries killing children in the U.S. and Canada include a brain injury.

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