TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jonathan Swiatocha



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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Comments on: "Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jonathan Swiatocha" (6)

  1. lee staniland said:

    WOW I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! Alot of your thinking is just as mine. God speed in your running. I spoke to a group of police yesterday for their CIT training.It stands for Crisis Intervention Training. They are so appreciative of us taking the time to explain US!


    • Lee, I am sure Jonathan appreciates your comment.

      You, too, are doing a wonderful job promoting awareness. I like to hear of your accomplishments.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  2. I’m Brian Dropkin, I suffered a TBI and a stroke because of a football injury on August 23rd 1989. That day my life changed forever. I was at a high school football practice and was hit helmet on helmet. After the helmet on helmet hit I was told I was complain of a headache. 10 minutes later I went into seizures on the field and was taken by helicopter to the hospital. When I arrived to the hospital I was taken into surgery because I suffered a subdural hematoma. The next 5 weeks I was in a coma. I suffered a stroke while I was in my coma. I can’t imagine my family having to deal with their son being in a coma. I did loose half of my vision and was paralyzed on my right side.The next 6 years I was in intense therapies to relearn everything over again. Although, I was very popular in high school,after about 2 months after I woke up from my coma my friends all vanished except one friend. Greg is my best friend to this day. It’s been an emotional roller coaster and very frustrating getting used to the new me and that was 26 years ago. I’m always tired and suffer from depression. I now live with two other disabled adults in an independent living house. I never gained my vision back and I walk with a limp and my speech is slurred when I talk. Before my injury I was an amazing athlete and wanted to play professional baseball. I was an amazing athlete. I do play sports through special Olympics and I’ve won many medals which I’m very proud of. Football is an extremely dangerous sport and I wouldn’t have played it if I knew that brain injuries existed. Thanks for letting me share my traumatic story, Brian


    • Hi Brian, thanks so much for sharing your story and your opinion on my blog.

      I’m sorry about your injury, which resulted in a brain injury that compromised your life. I appreciate your sharing your story and hope that by doing so another young life may be spared from brain injury because of this dangerous sport.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  3. WOW, awesome story. Inspiring!



    • Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting, Brian. I am sure that Jonathan will be pleased with your response. I know, I am.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


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