TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Brain Injury Resources: Movies & Documentaries

About Sports and Brain Injury

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

The following are in alphabetical order.

Brain th-2

 

Concussion

Concussion

ConcussionThis drama is based on the discovery of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in the brains of deceased former NFL (National Football League) players by forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu. CTE is a serious disease of the brain, found mostly in football players. It is caused by concussions and repeated sub-concussive hits. CTE has been found to cause several neurological problems, including early memory loss, impulsive behavior, and dementia. The movie details Dr. Omalu’s life, especially after his discovery, and the walls that he had to tear down to make this discovery known.

The movie, currently in theaters, stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu.

Movie details and trailer are at http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/concussion/.

 

Gridiron Gladiators

Gridiron Gladiators

Gridiron Gladiators This movie documents the history of football since the late 1800s. It depicts how football has evolved through the years and shows the extreme violence of the game. This documentary shows that, though football is one of America’s favorite sports, it is in dire need of reformation to reduce greatly or cease the possibility of getting a brain injury.

A stream of this documentary can be rented for $7 at http://gridirongladiatorsmovie.com/. Click “Stream Movie” to see the trailer.

 

Head Games

Head Games

Head Games This documentary is not just about American football, but about any sport that can readily cause brain injury, including soccer and hockey. George Visger, a former NFL (National Football League) player for the San Francisco 49ers, states in the documentary, “It’s been known for a long time that banging your head over and over and over again can be a bad thing.” This documentary also addresses the risks of children playing sports that can cause brain injury.

See it free online at http://www.hulu.com/watch/446640.

 

League of Denial

League of Denial

League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion CrisisThis Frontline documentary shows the role of the NFL (National Football League) in the serious problem of getting concussions on the playing field. It unveils the stories of several NFL players who were diagnosed posthumously with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a disease of the brain discovered by forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu. The story of Dr. Omalu and his discovery of CTE in American football players is the basis for the movie “Concussion.”

See it free online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/league-of-denial/.

Read about it on my blog at

http://survivingtraumaticbraininjury.com/2016/01/06/so-whaddya-think-football-puts-childrens-brains-at-risk/.

 

The Crash Reel

The Crash Reel

The Crash Reel” This documentary is a gripping 4+ star movie about Kevin Pearce, a champion snowboarder who was expected to win a gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. While training on the half-pipe, Kevin missed his mark and severely slammed his head. His dream of an Olympic gold medal disappeared as he was faced with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). You will see breathtaking footage of Kevin snowboarding before his TBI.

See it free online at https://vid.me/x2HU/the-crash-reel. See the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KkFZ-QC53Q.

 

The United States of Football

The United States of Football

The United States of Football This documentary is yet another look at the dangers of concussions in American football. It features 40-year-old Kyle Turley, former player for the New Orleans Saints, the St. Louis Rams, and the Kansas City Chiefs, as he talks about his fears and concerns about his own possible impending memory loss and dementia. It features other former NFL (National Football League) players who are in the throes of brain damage and shows how their lives have collapsed after repeated concussions. It delves into the harm that football can cause youngsters, whose brains are still developing.

A stream of this documentary can be rented for $3.99 at http://theusof.com/store.

The trailer can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8JMSMvWsBE.

Read about it on my blog at http://survivingtraumaticbraininjury.com/2015/10/19/4643/.

 

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So, Whaddya Think?

My Opinion: Sports Benefits Outweigh the Risks

by

 Charles Ross

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4I was eighteen when I had my traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a car accident in 1985. I was brought back to life once. I was in a coma for fifty days. I was in a wheelchair for one and a half years. I have memory problems. My body drew up into a fetal position. It took seven years of painful surgery and therapy and close to thirty procedures to straighten my legs, feet, arms, and hands. Thirty years later, my claw-shaped right hand looks like it has rheumatoid arthritis, but I use it. I write with that hand and walk with a cane in it. Three years after my accident, I went back to college. It took three years of difficult work to get my first Associate Degree and two years for a second in Mechanical Drafting, AutoCAD. I worked fifteen difficult years doing AutoCAD. Not one day since my accident has been easy for me. I am proud of what I accomplished, and I hope my story will be an inspiration to others.

Ross Jr., Charles Survivor 112415 copy

Charles Ross Jr. TBI Survivor

I know personally how tragic it is if a person gets hurt or killed accidentally, but that’s life. I don’t want to seem like life does not matter to me – because it does. (My life now is precious to me. I cherish each moment I have with family or friends. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, whom I never would have met otherwise, have blessed my life.) I am not heartless; I am very compassionate. I cry when I hear a tragic story of any kind. I know what life is. I know what death is. And I know what pain and suffering are.

I played three years of high-school football. Many guys were much bigger than I was, and I was fortunate not to get hurt. It was my third year of driving when I had my accident. Throughout my recovery, I looked back at the grueling football practices, and they football-player-tackling-cartoon-football-playersinspired me to go forward. What a sport does is teach sportsmanship, pride, respect, and loyalty, and it inspires one to do better.

Should I never ride in a car or even drive again because somebody has gotten hurt in a car accident? A baseball player may get hit in the head by a pitch, but now players have helmets to protect them. (There isn’t protective headwear in basketball, volleyball, tennis, or soccer, but maybe there should be.) Thousands of people end up in Emergency football_-_helmet_5Rooms or even in morgues because they fall while walking and hit their head. Should every man, woman, and child wear a helmet simply to walk? It seems just as foolish to end all athletics.

 

So, Whaddya Think?

Let’s get a dialogue going. Post your comments in the Comment Section. Directions are below.

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this Brain Injury (BI) world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

Simply send me your opinion, and I will format it for publication. Posts may be short, but please send no more than 500 words. Send to Neelyf@aol.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

If you REALLY like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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(Photos compliments of contributor)

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jonathan Swiatocha

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Swiatocha, Jonathan 2

Jonathan Swiatocha – TBI Survivor – Olympic Hopeful

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Jonathan Swiatocha

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Keller, Texas, USA     swiatochaj@gmail.com

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

December 6, 2002

10 years old

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Jonathan Swiatocha 7 Accident

Jonathan Swiatocha – accident

My family and I were hit by a drunk underage driver. The drunk driver was driving up to 80 mph. When the collision occurred, my brain hit the right side of my skull.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

When I was ten, the neurosurgeon and physicians told my parents that I had a high chance of recovering very quickly but the more severe effects of my traumatic brain injury (TBI) may appear in my twenties. In my early twenties, I was diagnosed as being clinically depressed, and I started to have vision problems. I’ve always known that I had problems from my TBI, but it wasn’t until my mom had me get evaluated by a psychologist that I was officially diagnosed with permanent brain damage. That’s when I knew for sure that something wasn’t right.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I had surgery, was given a shunt, and was on a ventilator.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

Yes. I was in an induced coma for about three days.

Swiatocha, Jonathan 7 Therapy

Jonathan Swiatocha – age 10

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

Yes. I was in inpatient care for eighteen days and in outpatient care for six months. I had occupational, physical, and speech therapies.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I have problems with cognitive functioning, perception, memory, depression, isolation, and vision. My personality has been affected. I have mood swings.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

My life is definitely not worse than before my TBI because I don’t remember what my life was like anyway. I am truly blessed for my life today, and I give thanks every single day for just being alive!

JS 1

Jonathan Swiatocha Speaker

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I don’t miss anything from my pre-TBI life. I may not be the person I was before my TBI, but honestly, I have never missed the old me – not even for a second.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I enjoy being able to share my story with people an

d being an inspiration for the TBI community.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I dislike the daily pain and suffering that resulted from my TBI.

14.Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

More than anything, my faith has helped me accept my TBI. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so, instead of dwelling on the past, I fight the good fight every day and keep moving forward.

15.Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. My family has been affected more than anyone because they see the two sides of me. My mom and younger siblings have been especially emotionally affected over the years because of the severe emotional and behavioral effects from my TBI.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

I was not the most social person in the world before my TBI. Throughout middle school, high school, and college, I struggled to interact with and engage people my age. That forced me to isolate myself, which left me in a severely depressed state. Once I became a speaker and started to stand and talk in front of audiences, I started to slowly heal. I became more social and interactive with people, young and old. I still struggle at times with forming relationships and making new friends, but I have definitely come a long way from where I once was.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

My main caregiver is my mother. Yes, I understand what it takes – you have to be both mentally and emotionally strong to be a caregiver.

Swiatocha, Jonathan Survivor 092915 jpg

Jonathan Swiatocha – Speaker

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

My future plans include being an international speaker, writing a book, and becoming the first Olympic runner with a traumatic brain injury. In ten years, I hope to have a family and a successful career and to have moved one step closer to achieving all my goals.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Even when all hope seems lost, you can always be raised up out of the ashes and into the light! I know it’s a fight every day, but the healing from TBI starts by staying faithful, staying humble, and living with a purpose.

Swiatocha, Jonathan 4 Survivor 092915

Jonathan Swiatocha – Runner

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

My advice to all survivors is – never lose hope! I know what it is to be depressed. I know what PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is. Giving up or taking your own life is never the answer. I was very close to ending my own life a couple of years ago because I was tired of all of the pain and suffering. Please hear me – your life has meaning. You’re alive today for a reason! Keep fighting the good fight, and never give up!

 

Follow my journey to the Olympics.

Facebook: Run To Victory

Twitter: @JS_Victory

Instagram: @runtovictory

website: linkedin.com/in/runtovictory

blog: jsvictory.blogspot.com

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Mental Decline Causes a Hero of Super Bowl XL to

Regret Playing Professional Football

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Newsboy thAmerican football wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is fondly remembered for doing a reverse and then throwing a touchdown pass to ice the National Football League’s Super Bowl XL, played February 2006 against the Seattle Seahawks. The final score was 21-10.

th-1

Antwaan Randle El #82 former Pittsburgh Steeler

Randle El retired early in 2010. Now 36, he has trouble with his memory and has difficulty on stairs. He fears what the violence of football has done to his brain and regrets playing professionally. An all-around athlete, Randle El had been drafted by the Chicago Cubs, a U.S. professional team in Major League Baseball, but his life-path brought him to football. He said in an interview by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “If I could go back, I wouldn’t (play football.) I would play baseball.”

 

antwaan-randle-el-0071-002

Antwaan Randle El – former Pittsburgh Steeler

Randle El wants to see his kids grow up and to know his grandkids. He is aware of recent brain research and the problems associated with playing football, so he is worried about his own neurological health. He said, “It’s a tough pill to swallow because I love the game of football. … It just comes down to it’s a physically violent game. … I wouldn’t be surprised if football isn’t around in 20, 25 years.” (Full story)

 

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As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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So, Whaddya Think?

My Opinion: Football Is Safer With Kevlar Helmet Inserts

by

Mike Doherty

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell FigurskiSo Whaddya Think Brain th-4

As a youth football coach, I am infuriated that more isn’t being done to spread the word about a great product out there that would greatly reduce the number of concussions. I came across it two years ago. It’s cheap, and you’d think the powers-that-be would jump all over it. Nope!

Southern Methodist University (SMU) did a study when their football players used this inexpensive piece of equipment in their helmets. The concussion rate dropped impressively.

American football is really a safe sport, considering the amount of contact involved. It’s just garnering the most attention because of the National Football League (NFL), where you have much bigger, stronger, and MUCH faster athletic men trying to hit each other. It’s controlled violence.

Mike doherty

Mike Doherty – TBI Survivor

Coaches now go through a lot of training on how to teach kids the proper way of tackling and how to recognize the possibility of a concussion. Trust me, it is probably the most important issue that’s been addressed on the field in the last few years. I’m glad concussions are finally being addressed. All in all, at the youth level, football is still pretty safe as compared with other sports. High school, college, and the pros are where you see concussions pick up. (The non-helmeted sports, like soccer and girls’ lacrosse, don’t get nearly the attention they should. For the life of me, I can’t understand why helmets are not worn in girls’ lacrosse.)

What’s the flip side of removing some of these sports for youths? The kids may then get into trouble doing crazy stuff. As kids, we did crazy stuff just being boys, and I played football.

Unequal Gyro

Inside of helmet with Unequal Gyro

That equipment I mentioned above is a helmet insert from Unequal Technologies. It’s a pad lined with Kevlar, the same material used in military helmets. It inserts into each helmet and disperses the energy from an

Kevlar for Football

The Unequal Gyro

impact throughout the pad, reducing greatly the severity of the impact itself. Unequal Technologies also promotes a headband for helmetless sports.

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the contributor.)

So, Whaddya Think?

Let’s get a dialogue going. Post your comments in the Comment Section. Directions are below.

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this Brain Injury (BI) world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

Simply send me your opinion, and I will format it for publication. Posts may be short, but please send no more than 500 words. Send to Neelyf@aol.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

If you REALLY like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. That works for me too!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor)

 

 

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” 

with

Guest: Ann Boriskie, Director of Brain Injury Peer Visitor Assn.

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Boriskie, Ann Training in Florida Survivor 011116Ann Boriskie, a TBI survivor of more than 17-years says, “Get involved. Volunteer.” “By helping others with a brain injury, you truly help yourself in so many ways.” Ann is the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association Director and her motto is “YOU CAN!”Peer Visitation BannerBoriskie, Ann Survivor 011116

 If you missed this show with Ann Boriskie on “Another Fork in the Road” on January 17th, 2016 don’t fret. You can listen to the archived show here. Click the link below.

See you “On the Air!”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” with Ann Boriskie, Director of Brain Injury Peer Visitor Assn.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.
Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.
 If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.
 If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. I don’t care!
 Feel free to “Like” my post.

 

Jonathan Swiatocha – TBI Survivor Training for Olympic Marathon

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Newsboy thIn 2002, the vehicle Jonathan Swiotocha was driving was broadsided by a drunk driver. One of Jonathan’s injuries was a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which put him into a coma and left him paralyzed from the waist down. He maintains that his “greatest athletic achievement” was taking his first step. Now he is a marathon runner and is training for the 2020 Olympics.Swaitosha, Jonathan Survivor 092915 12071738_1188221344525066_1019010021_n Jonathan hopes to be the first TBI survivor to participate in the Olympics. He is bringing awareness to brain injury, and he is an inspiration to survivors. In addition to his rigorous training, Jonathan gave a TED Talk Thursday night, January 14, 2016. Jonathan’s SPEAK OUT! interview for this blog will be published shortly. (Video and story)

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Jonathan Swiatocha.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it (intact) with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it (intact) with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

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