Four Winter X-Games medals. Back-to-back Arctic Challenge championships. An unprecedented two Air & Style victories in one season.
It’s 2009: Kevin Pearce ranks among the best professional snowboarders in the world. He’s the rising star, the prodigy, the kid hot on the heels of industry icons like Shaun White. Soon, Pearce will be the top of the mountain, the front of the pack.
Then, tragedy. Loss. During training for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Kevin slams into the halfpipe. The damage is near-fatal, and the traumatic brain injury he sustains ends his career. It takes months just to relearn how to walk. Years of training to see the world come back into focus.
His injury became the focal point of media coverage around the world, including the award-winning HBO documentary The Crash Reel, sparking widespread conversation within the sports industry about high-velocity cranial impacts and the long-lasting, invisible effects of concussion and brain injury.
But that is only the beginning of his story.
This month, now almost ten years removed from his injury, Pearce is sharing his journey and subsequent path to recovery–a walking, talking example of the lifelong growth and improvement individuals with TBI can achieve.
“Weeks, months, years—it’s taken me all of that and more to get where I am now. I’m still getting better each day,” Pearce said during a presentation for the Omaha community, before an audience of over 130 attendees at Omaha’s Stokes Bar and Grill.
Inspired to have an impact on a population without a voice, Pearce created the LoveYourBrain Foundation, an organization dedicated to fostering communities of strength for individuals and families affected by injury. Using Pearce’s high-profile crash as a springboard into nationwide discussion, LoveYourBrain helps promote continued attention and research regarding the body’s most vital and fragile organ.
In many ways, LoveYourBrain leads the nationwide conversation about brain injury awareness, doing so by building powerful alliances with centers of excellence across the country, and by showcasing the transformative upside restorative yoga can have on traumatic brain injury survivors.
This month, QLI and the LoveYourBrain Foundation partnered to host LoveYourBrain’s first-ever clinical training session. With over 40 participating health professionals from institutions and hospitals across the country, the weekend-long training course explored the extensive research behind yoga’s impact on TBI and helped develop a TBI-focused yoga curriculum for use in acute and post-acute care settings.
“We’ve seen tremendous benefit in the application of yoga in community-based settings,” said Kyla Pearce, the senior director of LoveYourBrain’s yoga program, in an address to start the training course, “but the true success is in working with health professionals and primary care centers to use evidence-based yoga and meditation to treat TBI early.”
In Omaha, QLI has represented the vanguard of incorporating yoga into intensive post-acute brain and spinal cord injury treatment, becoming a LoveYourBrain clinical affiliate in 2017. QLI regularly collaborates with Omaha-area yoga experts, including LoveYourBrain studio partner Evolve to Harmony, that specialize in tailoring classes and yoga practice to meet the complex needs brain injuries can require.
To further reinforce LoveYourBrain-friendly yoga within its clinical system, QLI will launch a LoveYourBrain Fundamentals series in February 2019. This accelerated program will familiarize rehabilitation and care clients of all diagnoses–including brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, and more–with the basics of restorative yoga and meditation.
By having access to specialized yoga services as part of their functional therapies, injury survivors can build an easy transition to community-based, LoveYourBrain-partnered yoga studios across the country.
“It’s an honor to host the LoveYourBrain Foundation at QLI, but an even greater pleasure to collaborate with the team as partners,” said Megan Potter, QLI’s Coordinator of Physical and Occupational Therapy Services. “There are mountains of research that showcase the benefit of yoga for individuals with brain injuries, even long after injury. As a rehabilitation center that utilizes yoga as part of regular therapies, we are able to see that benefit up close. We want all our residents to benefit from restorative yoga, no matter their length of stay or the time of year they are at QLI.”
To learn more about LoveYourBrain and the organization’s services across the country, visit www.LoveYourBrain.com
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