30th October 2017


Speech, Topic brain injuries

Endurance is a relatable fact to each and everyone of us sitting in this room. It occurs in our everyday lives and consists in many contrasts. These events can range between school work, poverty, disease, extreme accidents and so on. Each testing our will to go on. This is endurance.

Brain Injuries. They are one of the biggest leading factors to loss of participation or even death in most high level sports. An estimated 1.7 million people in the Us sustain a traumatic brain injury each year. Of them: 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and nearly 80%, are treated and luckily released from the emergency department. Some of you may know what one is, some of you may have experienced one but i hope not. A brain injury usually results from hitting your head, hence the brain part and is caused by a violent jolt, forcing your brain to collide with your skull damaging cell tissue.

Your brain is very important, it is the control centre for everything. When these nerve pathways in the brain are damaged, they can no longer send information to each other in the normal way. This can cause changes in a person’s behavior and in some cases to become a bit “monged”.

A near 91% of NFL have had a brain injury and near 20% of those have been traumatic. So you may wonder why they carry on and why people still play this sport. It is because of either personnel compassion or pressure from others to succeed in the sport. This is seen in many cases in sports. Where people have been driven to compete by family, sponsors or organisations, even after falling victim to a head injury. Possibly resulting in another deadly knock. Many are suspended or deemed medically unfit to play their sports after these injuries.  A devastating ideal for the athlete, leading to the loss of ability to compete in their beloved sport.                    
Here are some facts

  • A brain injury occurs every 15 seconds
  • Traumatic brain injury is the number one cause of death in children and young adults
  • Traumatic brain injuries cause 1.5 times more deaths than AIDS

Kevin Pearce

Kevin Pearce was one of the world’s best snowboarders, you may not of heard of him but he was even for a time better than shaun white. He is an excellent example of endurance. He started his professional snowboarding  career in 2007 but was short lived after falling victim to a near fatal brain injury. This injury occurred in 2010, whilst training for the Vancouver, olympics. In Kevin’s professional career he won near to 5 world titles and gained 4 X games medals.

Kevin’s traumatic brain injury put him in intensive care for near to 2 months and while 52,000 of the 1.7 million Americans who sustain brain injuries annually die, Pearce channeled his athletic passion into his recovery, and was back home in five months.

When Kevin first endured his injury, he was told by many doctors he would never be the same, never be able to ride a skateboard, snowboard or doing any sports again etc. He could not speak and was claimed to be perpetually retarded. A common effect after such a severe injury.

But after near too 2 years of rehab, he was back on a snowboard 712 days after his injury. Soon after this, Kevin realised he wasn’t the same. It was still his dream to compete at the olympics but what he began to notice was that his cognitive and balance functions had deteriorated, a common result from brain injuries or concussions.

Kevin struggled to grasp his situation, the reality of not competitively snowboarding again was incomprehensible. He stated in an interview that “confronting and accepting his former and current abilities has been the hardest part of my four-year recovery”.

This story of endurance inspired many, but was only a rare occurrence against the excessive history of extreme sport deaths due to brain injuries. Such as international sensation freeskier sarah burke, who died in 2012 and dave mirra who had over 100 concussions and died in 2016 after suicide. Many go unnoticed but these head traumas are a protruding issue in high level sports at the moment and are causing major repercussions. Many that experience these traumatic injuries are left with  lifelong symptoms.

Just imagine one day, you’re fine. Living your life like normal and you decide to go skiing. In the easiest instance you could catch an edge and hit your head just at the right point. Too give yourself  a traumatic brain injury. The next day you wake up in hospital and cannot think, read, write, remember anyone’s name or you may even suffer from paralysis. You then find out that these symptoms are not going to resolve. This may seem like too much but even after this, you are struck by the anxiety and depression. Leaving you struggling to push on. Such devastating news is delivered too many around the world everyday. A hardship to be endured. But people do, they accept their new realities and lives and move on. This is one of the many great examples of endurance we witness in our modern world. Stay safe people and keep enduring whatever comes at you.

As once a buddha said –

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes”



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About Ronan

I was born a gangster, ya know.