By the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
SILVER SPRING, Md., Sept. 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — After paddle boarding helped retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Josh Collins recover from multiple traumatic brain injuries (TBI), he embarked on a record-breaking 3,500-mile paddle boarding journey to raise awareness of TBI. Former Navy Lt. Amanda Burrill and former Army Sgt. 1st Class Elana Duffy are friends who both sustained TBIs, sought help and got better through a healthy lifestyle. All three veterans are featured in new video profiles released by A Head for the Future, a TBI awareness initiative by the Department of Defense (DoD) that shares stories of TBI recovery and hope. The videos are available at dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture and on the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury’s YouTube channel.
“The videos highlight how important it is for our military community to prevent, recognize and recover from a TBI. We want those who sustained a brain injury to know that there are resources available to help get on the path to recovery,” said Scott Livingston, director of education at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). “These new videos from A Head for the Future can inspire others to seek help for TBI.”
After Collins sustained multiple TBIs through combat and military training, he experienced several symptoms common to TBI, including irritability and memory loss. While getting treatment at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida, he began paddle boarding as a form of recreational therapy. In March 2016, Collins set out on an epic journey from Corpus Christi, Texas to New York City on a paddle board to raise awareness of TBI and veteran issues.
“You’ve got to get help, whether that’s seeking medical attention or therapy,” said Collins. “This is not like two steps forward one step back. I think when it comes to your brain, this is 10 steps forward, nine steps back, but you are taking a step forward.”
According to recent DoD data, since 2000 more than 361,000 service members have been diagnosed with TBI — most diagnosed in noncombat settings. Falls, motor vehicle collisions, sports-related incidents and training accidents are the most common causes of noncombat-related brain injuries among service members.
During her first deployment, Burrill sustained a TBI after a fall in which she was knocked unconscious. She suffered memory loss and diminished concentration — common symptoms of brain injuries. Getting diagnosed and treatment gave her confidence to move forward and get better. Now, Burrill focuses on recovery through a healthy lifestyle and uses her role as a fitness model and culinary blogger to raise awareness about TBI.
“There are extra things that need to happen when you have a brain injury,” said Burrill. “You need to get enough sleep; you need to be well nourished. And, there are other people out there that want to help. There are programs out there that can help. This is something you can recover from.”
In 2005, Duffy sustained a TBI from a roadside bomb while deployed in Iraq. At the time, not much was known about TBI, and for two years she experienced symptoms such as migraines, vertigo, vision impairment and loss of memory and concentration — without a diagnosis. It was a relief when she was finally diagnosed with a TBI and could start getting treatment. Duffy, who had been an avid rock climber since she was 14 years old, had stopped climbing due to her symptoms. After therapy, she began climbing again. Now, she continues to recover by staying active.
“If I could give one piece of advice to someone who thinks that they’ve got TBI or anything even remotely related, it’s don’t stop fighting,” Duffy said.
To learn more about TBI and the A Head for the Future initiative, and to find additional videos and educational resources on preventing brain injury, visit dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture and follow A Head for the Future on Twitter and Facebook.
SOURCE Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
CONTACT: Angelita Colón-Francia, Chief of Media Relations, Public Affairs, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, firstname.lastname@example.org