In 2005, Eve Baker was riding her bicycle in Honolulu when a car struck her. She hit the windshield at almost 40 miles an hour. "If I hadn't been wearing a helmet," she said, "I wouldn't be here today."
Baker, a Marine reservist, was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). When she woke up in intensive care, she had retrograde amnesia; she couldn't remember anything that occurred two weeks before the accident. She started on her path to recovery, relying on her fiancé to help with daily tasks. By following the doctor's orders to rest, avoid exercise and stay home from work for nearly two months, Baker made a full recovery. Today, Baker lives in Quantico, Virginia, with her husband and their two young children.
"You definitely can recover from brain injury. I'm living proof," Baker said. "You can go on and live a full life, and not let it hold you back."
Baker's story, as well as the stories of other service members and veterans who sought help for traumatic brain injuries, are part of a video series sponsored by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) initiative, A Head for the Future, and on the YouTube channel of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. The release of the video kicks off a variety of activities sponsored by A Head for the Future to recognize Brain Injury Awareness Month in March and to raise awareness about preventing, recognizing and recovering from TBI.
"Particularly during Brain Injury Awareness Month, we want our military community to know that the first step in recovery from TBI is getting checked out," said Kathy Helmick, deputy director of DVBIC. "Eve's story shows that through treatment and working closely with your doctor, you can get your life back on track."
According to data from the Defense Department, more than 330,000 service members have been diagnosed with TBI since 2000. Surprisingly, most of these injuries were diagnosed in noncombat settings; motor vehicle collisions are a common cause.
A Head for the Future is a multiyear DVBIC initiative to promote TBI awareness, prevention and recovery care and encourage helpseeking response to TBI. The initiative offers educational resources, such as fact sheets with tips about avoiding brain injury in daytoday activities. Its video series highlights a variety of personal experiences with TBI from service members and veterans who went for years overlooking their symptoms to those who sustained more severe injuries and were treated immediately.
Throughout the month of March, A Head for the Future will employ a #ThinkAhead hashtag card campaign to feature photographs submitted by TBI survivors and their supporters on its Facebook and Twitter pages as well as the DVBIC page on Facebook. Anyone can download the #ThinkAhead hashtag card and use it to share a personal message about their experience with TBI or in support of Brain Injury Awareness Month. Anyone taking a photo with the card can either submit the picture to A Head for the Future to post or share it with their own social media networks.
"The ThinkAhead hashtag campaign will unify the military TBI community through images — a service member or veteran with a TBI, a military spouse or child, a TBI advocate or even a service dog — and messages of support," said Dr. Scott Livingston, director of education for DVBIC. "We encourage everyone to take part and raise awareness about preventing, recognizing and getting help for TBI."
Download the #ThinkAhead hashtag card and access more TBI resources through the DVBIC Brain Injury Awareness Month Web page.