Lessons I have learned from having a brain injury…

March-2015-National

Did you know March is National Brain Injury Month?

Why is this important?

FACTS about TBI in the USA from BrainTrauma.org

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability in children and adults from ages 1 to 44.

Brain injuries are most often caused by motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, or simple falls on the playground, at work or in the home.

Every year, approximately 52,000 deaths occur from traumatic brain injury.

An estimated 1.5 million head injuries occur every year in the United States emergency rooms. a

An estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related TBIs occur each year.

At least 5.3 million Americans, 2% of the U.S. population, currently live with disabilities resulting from TBI.

Moderate & severe head injury (respectively) is associated with a 2.3 and 4.5 times increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Males are about twice as likely as females to experience a TBI.

The leading causes of TBI are falls, motor vehicle crashes, struck by or against events, and assaults, respectively.

TBI hospitalization rates have increased from 79% per 100,000 in 2002 to 87.9% per 100,000 in 2003.

Exposures to blasts are a leading cause of TBI among active duty military personnel in war zones.

Veterans’ advocates believe that between 10 and 20% of Iraq veterans, or 150,000 and 300,000 service members have some level of TBI.

30% of soldiers admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center have been diagnosed as having had a TBI.

The problem with brain injuries is that you can’t see them. No one walks around with a cast on their head and a sign that says, “Handle with care – stroke, car accident, sports injury, shaken baby syndrome…”

You may or may not be aware that I have a brain injury. Years ago I was in a car accident. The result of that car accident was a head injury that damaged what doctors estimated was 15% my brain tissue and added the words seizure disorder to my medical records. But, hey, don’t worry about the 15%, most people only use 7% of their brains so I have a lot left to work with.

Every brain injury is different. I have been fortunate that mine is limited to short-term memory. I have an exuberant ability to learn but not to remember. This explains why after successfully completely my bachelors degree with a 3.98 GPA (15 years after my accident) I still tested at the 7th grade educational level as far as memory function goes during a 5 year neurological check-up. This also explains why I probably won’t remember your name if we meet (but it doesn’t mean I won’t remember your story), I am the worse partner to have on your team when it comes to board games, and right now I have no idea what I have planned today without looking at a calendar. The positives, I forgive easily because I won’t remember what upset me ten minutes ago and my accident left me with a passion to live life to its fullest and help others do the same.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from having a brain injury:

1. Don’t judge others. There is a 99% chance you really have no idea what is going on in their lives. Love and acceptance is a much better path to follow.

2. God has a purpose for every human being. Each person you meet has worth and value beyond measure. It is important to recognize it, acknowledge it and champion it to shine from within them.

3. Not all of us have physical disabilities but all of us are called to be overcomers of the obstacles and road blocks in our lives.

4. With God’s help nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).

I want to leave you with these words of encouragement from 2 Corinthians 12:9 and invite you to tell your story. It is important that people understand who you are.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

If you would like to hear more of my story, listen here.

 

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