SILVER SPRING, Md., June 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- After their son plunged 50 feet while rock climbing without a helmet, Petty Officer 3rd Class Colin Woodside's parents thought he may never walk or talk again. Through extensive treatment, Woodside eventually recovered from a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). He also returned to rock climbing; only now he always does it with protective gear. Woodside shares his story in a new video for A Head for the Future, a U.S. Department of Defense TBI awareness initiative. The video is featured on dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture and the YouTube channel of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Released in recognition of National Safety Month, A Head for the Future's newest video brings attention to the importance of being safe during recreational activities.
"Our military community is fit, active and on the go, especially in the summer. It's important to know that whatever your activity is — rock climbing, biking, pickup basketball or football — there are simple ways to protect your head," said Scott Livingston, director of education at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). "Colin's experience underscores the significance of safety when you're out there, and his story shows that you can recover from a brain injury."
Woodside said the support of his family and fellow Coast Guardsmen was crucial in his recovery. When his parents learned of the climbing accident, they rushed to the military hospital in Seattle. Over the next few days, as Woodside slowly regained consciousness and started to communicate, his mother made flash cards to remind him daily where he was and why he was there. Through therapy and the continuous support from his family and friends, Woodside started to recover. A year later, he returned to service and began rock climbing again — now, making sure that he is always protected.
"To get back on the rock, knowing that it almost took my life, is a unique experience," Woodside said. "I treasure the safety aspect. … I enjoy it a lot more because I know how dangerous it can be, but I also know the safety that's involved and how critical it is."
According to Defense Department data, more than 344,000 service members have been diagnosed with TBI since 2000. Most of these injuries were diagnosed in noncombat settings. Sports-related incidents, motor vehicle collisions, falls and training accidents are the most common causes of noncombat brain injury among service members.
The A Head for the Future video series features service members and veterans who, like Woodside, recovered from brain injury with medical treatment and support. The DVBIC initiative promotes TBI awareness, prevention and recovery, and it offers educational resources, such as the Heads Up fact sheet with tips about avoiding brain injury while participating in sports.
"Ways you can protect your head include being aware of your surroundings, wearing proper footwear with good traction and always wearing equipment to protect your head. Break out that helmet for street hockey, biking, rock climbing and other recreational activities; wear headgear for boxing and wrestling," said Livingston.
Congress established the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) in 1992 after the first Gulf War in response to the need to treat service members with TBI. DVBIC's staff serves as the Defense Department's primary TBI subject matter experts. DVBIC is part of the U.S. Military Health System and is the TBI operational component of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). Learn more about DVBIC at dvbic.dcoe.mil.
The mission of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) is to improve the lives of our nation's service members, veterans and their families by advancing excellence in psychological health and traumatic brain injury prevention and care. DCoE comprises three centers: Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) and National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2). Learn more about DCoE at dcoe.mil.
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SOURCE Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center