cte

A Personal Story

Author: Billy Hao

About a year ago, I lived in an orange and blue apartment building near the University of Washington Seattle campus. It was a warm, spring afternoon as I walked back to my room after class. As soon as I entered the room, I put my backpack on the floor and lay down on my bed. Bored, I opened the YouTube app on my iPhone and started watching some videos. After a few minutes, I became aware that closing the blinds would help keep the room cool. I immediately got up and started adjusting them. The next thing I remember is waking up next to a pool of blood. Confused, I started to clean up the mess. I wasn’t sure where the blood was coming from, but eventually discovered that there was a cut on the back of my head. I called a friend over to examine the severity of the wound and he convinced me to call my parents. They made the 30-minute drive from my childhood home to my apartment building and sent me to the emergency room. After asking a few questions to test my memory and cognition, the doctor stapled the cut together. It turns out that I had gotten up too fast and blacked out as I was adjusting the blinds. I fell backward and hit my head against the edge of a wall. It’s been about a year since the incident, but the scar is still visible today.

In the immediate aftermath of the injury, I had no problems with memory and no decrease in cognitive ability. As far as I know, my brain is working fine. However, there was a brief period of time when the fear of permanent brain damage kept me up at night. Watching the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith as doctor Omalu (IMDb, 2015) convinced me that I may suffer from CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Of course, this is far from the truth. After a few days of paranoia, I did some research and found that “CTE is not caused by any single injury, but rather it is caused by years of regular, repetitive brain trauma” (Concussion Legacy Foundation). Still, my injury taught me the importance of good health and the fragility of life. Life is dependent on being able to move and think clearly, and one head injury can take that all away.

My experience with a mild traumatic brain injury has inspired me to help others who have not been as lucky. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), neurological disorders affect up to one billion people worldwide (Bertolote & Medialine, 2007). Others in the world suffer from concussions and neurological disorders that are far more severe than my own. Reading the testimonials of recipients of Plus One grants compelled me to intern here at this company and share my story. Throughout my life, I plan to support non-profit organizations like this one in order to help the victims of such unfortunate circumstances.

 

Sources:

"Neurological Disorders Affect Millions Globally: WHO Report." World Health Organization. World Health Organization, 08 Dec. 2010. Web. 25 July 2018.

"What Is CTE?" Concussion Legacy Foundation. N.p., 20 June 2018. Web. 25 July 2018.

"Concussion (2015)." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 25 July 2018.