Brainstorming: Life after Acquired Brain Injury

As a result of stroke, aneurysm, brain tumor, auto accidents, common falls, and military combat, more than two million people suffer brain injuries each year, making acquired brain injury (ABI) a leading cause of disability.

While bicycling, my husband Dr. Norm Camp, suffered a massive heart attack. By the time paramedics arrived, Norm's oxygen-deprived brain had been severely damaged. In minutes, the vice president of a research and development company, and active skier, golfer, and tennis player, had lost the most basic skills. Norm could no longer speak, eat, walk, read, or bathe.

Determined to help Norm recover as full and productive a life as possible, I changed from wife to full-time nurse, and began a challenging journey through a well-intentioned healthcare system that was insufficiently prepared to deal with this specialized condition.

After playing a central role in my husband's recovery for seven years, I wrote this unique account of a caregiver's odyssey to inspire high-functioning brain injured people and their loved ones, and to inform medical students and healthcare professionals about the difficult problems they must be prepared to help solve.

We must develop a better support system for brain injury survivors and their caregivers.