Feature Story: A Life Shattered by Brain Injury - Lorraine Truong

May 4, 2018
by Matt Wragg  




Lovely. That's the word that best describes how it is catching up with Lorraine these days. This is my first time speaking to her since her accident, and, if anything, her English is better than before. It has become a terminally endearing blend of Swiss-Yorkshire English that is as unique as Lorraine. With the five hours in the car to get home from where she lives near Verbier, Switzerland, there is plenty of time to reflect and try and wrap my head around the right words. The cliché would be to say it's hard to talk to her, but that's bullshit. Mainly because it's not hard to chat with her. She's still fun, intelligent and full of life. She is still the pocket rocket. When we are finished with the photos she is eager to show off how she can skid her electric wheelchair. After an hour she is too tired to carry on speaking, she needs sleep. I climb into my car, put some good music on and hit the road homewards. Lorraine may never be able to do those things again. My side of things looks pretty easy when you look at it like that.

Imagine being young.

Those years in your early twenties are some of the best in this life. The awkward teenage years are starting to slip behind you and your future rolls out ahead of you like a thundercloud.

Imagine you're talented.

Not just in one direction, but two. Not only are you one of the best up and coming racers in the world, excitedly planning your races at the EWS and the World Cup DH, but you just landed your dream job as an engineer for BMC.

Now imagine crashing.

Not a big one, you can walk away from it, but you hit your head. Nothing seems broken so you keep going. The EWS is just days away and you can barely contain your excitement. You know, if you're honest with yourself, that something is not quite right. But you're too excited to slow down, you can still ride, still race. So you do. It feels so good.

Imagine crashing again.

You're at the EWS this time and again you hit your head and, again, it doesn't seem too bad. You even finish your run. Then the symptoms start...

This is when the nightmare begins.



Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong

Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong
Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong

Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong




"It was really hard to accept what was happening," Lorraine recalls. "I'm not saying that if you get paralyzed in a crash you accept it, but you know straight away. If you listen to the TED Talk by Martyn Ashton, he said he was in the MRI and knew it. I thought I would be back on my bike for the next race. It could have been I recovered very fast. My doctor said, 'Okay, not the next race, but maybe the one after.' He went on like that for a couple of months when we were really hoping I would recover really fast. It didn't happen." That is one of the harshest realities of living with a brain injury, it is a field of medicine where uncertainty is the norm. There is no x-ray, MRI or ultrasound to check how damaged your brain is. Everyone responds differently, so what may have worked for one patient may be completely useless for another. You are thrust into a world where the prognosis is unclear and the future unpromised.

"Because I look ‘normal,’ I feel ashamed of how much I struggle. I never say anything and simply try to deal with it." When Lorraine tells you that, it's hard for your heart not to break for her. Then she goes on to explain the full depth of her symptoms and it is impossible to know what to say. "First there are the physical symptoms. Those are easier to explain, as these are things people can imagine. I have headaches all the time. I have kind of got used to it and with the medication and rest management, it is mostly at a level that I can tolerate. When it gets too much a silent dark room is still the solution. I also am nauseous most of the time. Here, too, it has become ok to just live with it. It just gets hard when I vomit or when the nausea is really strong in the night. Both of those symptoms are very sensitive to outside stimulation and cognitive effort."

"I also have a right side paresis, which is like a ‘soft’ version of a paralysis. It means that the function of my brain that controls my right side is not automatic anymore, so moving can get really difficult. I also don’t feel this side very well. It's as if a chunk of me was missing, or more precisely was not solid anymore. It can be quite tough because I can see that I have a right side, but my brain doesn't know it is there. For example, if I look down I often feel like my right leg is a prosthetic."

"Then there are all the symptoms that are much harder to explain in a way that people without a brain injury can understand. I call them 'scrambled eggs brain'. It's as if it all is mixed in my head. I know it is there, but I don't know how to access it and it can take a tremendous amount of energy to do so. It means that most of the time I feel lost, I am easily distracted and absent. I feel like I am in a fog and things that were natural can become a challenge. For me, this is really hard because it is constant. There is no way out.

"Finally my brain has a really hard time processing stimulation. A noise, a touch, a fast motion of my head or some little thing can be exhausting. It means that even if I still want to do a thousand things it is just not possible because it is always too much and even in a really protected environment my brain's fuel tank empties at an unimaginable rate. All of this is even harder to live with because it is ‘invisible’. If you have a broken shoulder, people will know not to tap on it but no one can see that I cannot stand the lightest of touches on my right side."



Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong



A life that was not long ago full of plans to travel the world, chase dreams and live every single second is now caged. Every night she needs 12-14 hours sleep just to recover from the day before. Reduced to a small radius around her home, constrained by the constant need to rest, rehab and medicate. It has also taken her bikes away from her. "If you injure your leg or something, you find a way to work around it and still follow your dream, you can still do something. With my brain injury, it isn't possible, working around anything isn't possible. Biking is not possible for me just now, because moving on a bike is so difficult. I'm doing a bit on a balance bike, like a kid. We've taken away the pedalling part, but even with that, after a minute or two, I'm just like, 'oof, that's pretty hard.' But just that feeling of the handlebars, just your hand on the grip, that's really good. I can skid a bit, which is quite nice. It's still the dream."

Lorraine doesn't like to dwell on the negatives. She acknowledges that there have been some "really, really, really tough moments," but doesn't linger on the topic. Aside from the physical symptoms of her injury, there is a huge emotional side – it is well-documented that brain trauma can lead to difficulties regulating emotions and depression. Add to that mix the obvious chance of situational depression – the kind of depression triggered by a life event, like a life-changing injury – then it is hard to imagine how she hasn't had to deal with life when it is as dark as it can get.

Asking her if she has any advice for young racers, her reply is the perfect reminder that although she's struggling, the same, smart Lorraine is still there underneath the symptoms. "To a young rider, I think I would say that if you hit your head, even though you can keep riding, you're actually not riding well. Because if you tell a young rider 'you might have problems in the future,' I don't know, I think the will to go riding is bigger than anything that might happen in the future. I think telling them, 'you would ride much better if you stop for a week or two than if you keep trying and pushing through the symptoms.' I think that hopefully is a message that will get through to them.

"I think to any rider who's really serious about competing, I would say, 'before anything happens, find a sports doctor. Just go, present yourself, so you know you've got one if something happens, like a concussion. In the ER they're just going to check that you're not going to die... The ER doctors are just going to send you away. Having a doctor who knows about concussion and brain injuries and that you can feel okay to go to and tell what's happening, I think that's something we should have."



Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong

Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong
Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong

Girl Interrupted Lorraine Truong



Leaving, it is hard not lapse back into bullshit clichés. What you really want to tell her is "it's going to be ok, it's going to get better." But you cannot because no matter how much you may wish things were going to get better for her, the truth is that Lorraine doesn't know what the future holds. Medical science has little to offer. Miracles only happen on TV. The only certainty is hard work and, if she's lucky, a little progress. I admit this to Lorraine. Her reply will stay with me for the rest of my life.

"That's actually a really nice thing to say because for me it's much more touching to have someone saying this to me than someone telling me, 'Oh, you'll be all right,' and then walking away. For them, that's it. They walked away and it's finished. They start their life again. While I'm just stuck like this..."


169 Comments

  • + 381
 I read all of that twice and although it tugged at my heartstrings I still can't find the right words to type without it looking like patronising BS. So I will say - I hope and wish things get better for you Lorraine. Keep doing those skids!
  • + 19
 I like seeing 250 thumbs up here, but if everyone who gives a thumbs up goes and just does a little bit more by donating even 5 British pounds to the justgiving link below, they would crush their modest goal. I think that would be an even bigger sign of support from the bike community here on Pinkbike.... Be good people, give what you would hope a perfect stranger would give to you if the positions were reversed. Be the change you want to see.
  • + 62
 Cheers @kennyken1015. I'll keep skidding as long as I can!
  • + 257
 Me and two friends have just completed the North Coast 500 (a 500 mile road ride around the north coast of Scotland), we are raising money to help Lorraine with her rehab and trying to raise awareness for #myBrainmyRules.
If you would like to help Lorraine out then please check out the Just Giving page:

www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/matt-baggs
  • + 22
 We couldn't think of a more worthy cause to raise money for whilst completing our ride. Please check out the Just Giving page, if you are able to help Lorraine on her journey that would be fantastic!
  • + 10
 cheers for everyone’s generosity.
  • + 14
 ...anybody that donates £5 or more has a chance of winning a set of Brand New 2018 DVO Beryl forks! For more info on this visit www.instagram.com/chloe.rides.bikes
  • + 3
 She have any body positioning needs? I may be able to help. www.bodypoint.com
  • + 3
 @n1ck: Thanks for asking! We will definitely look at this Smile
  • + 96
 This shook me to the core and brought back all of my own experiences with brain injury. In 2015 while riding I went off a cliff on a trail I had never ridden before in South Korea. My helmet was totally shattered and had a hole in it big enough to pass your entire arm through. Strangely enough the rest of my body was only bruised and scraped up, just the brain was hurt. I spent the next week at home asking the same 10-15 questions over and over again with a terrified wife who thought she was going to have to spend the rest of her life caring for a disabled person (we were 28 at the time).

At the end of that week everything "snapped" back together. I know this because there was a clear moment while setting on the couch where I could remember things again. The crash and resulting brain injury cost me at least 3 days of memory before the event plus 7-8 days post crash. The crazy thing was that because I couldn't remember the crash I had no associated fear in my mind to slow me down, so when I got back on the bike I was just as fast as before.

I now purposely slow myself down on rides, I no longer chase any type of KOM, my taste in bikes has changed, and biking overall has moved from an obsession to a simple hobby that I enjoy when time allows instead of rearranging everything to ensure I can ride. I still don't know what the total cost of the crash was or will be; maybe I'm not as smart as I once was, maybe one day I will suffer some new condition that stems from brain injuries suffered in youth, etc...

The whole biking community owes Lorraine a major debt. By sharing her story she is giving each and every person who has never experienced this type of injury the gift of perspective without the direct experience. Often times in life we think that experience is what grants people wisdom, but most often it is the perspective gained through experience or learning from others that benefits us the most when making fateful decisions. Thank you Lorraine for doing this and keep up the fight, you are an inspiration. Thank you Matt for shining a light into the dark corners of our hobby.
  • + 25
 What a great paragraph.

"The whole biking community owes Lorraine a major debt. By sharing her story she is giving each and every person who has never experienced this type of injury the gift of perspective without the direct experience. Often times in life we think that experience is what grants people wisdom, but most often it is the perspective gained through experience or learning from others that benefits us the most when making fateful decisions. Thank you Lorraine for doing this and keep up the fight, you are an inspiration. Thank you Matt for shining a light into the dark corners of our hobby.”
  • + 5
 Wonderfully written.
  • + 2
 @acohoon thanks for writing this thoughtful and personal reply
  • + 6
 Your brain sounds ok to me. Another great perspective.
  • + 1
 Thank you for sharing! This is all certainly eye opening
  • + 10
 Thanks for those words! ❤️
  • + 1
 @acohoon Truly, I hope that you've seen a doctor that has looked into your injury -- yes? I expect you have, but didn't see any mention of it... Be well.
  • + 72
 I think for all of us out there who have had some form of TBI, it's impossible to read this and not get shaken to the core physically and emotionally. There's so much I want to say after reading this but all that keeps coming to mind is reliving past experiences and being reminded how lucky we can be sometimes. Lorraine, I can't tell you how sincere I am when I say that I hope with every ounce of my body that you fully recover and I hope that your story helps to educate and prevent future brain injuries in this sport. If you're reading this and don't own a helmet with some sort of "anti concussion" system, and you're an aggressive rider, please consider investing in one. My wish is that everyone who enjoys riding continues to do so until they decide to stop on their own free will. Lorraine and PinkBike, thx you again for sharing this story with us.
  • + 12
 Well said Bobafett164. As someone who has been through a long battle with a TBI, I think your comments are inspiration to not only Lorraine, but all who have suffered a traumatic injury with longstanding symptoms.
  • + 7
 been there and all I can say is hang in there chick it gets better. but its a long process, its been 18 years + for me but life is good and loving what I have.
There is always someone worse off no matter how tough is is at the moment.
  • + 19
 Thank you @Bobafett164 ❤️
I'll keep doing my best with rehab and I am also trying hard to learn how to live "happy" with my broken brain...
Keep spreading Brain Injury Awareness.. our sport need it!
  • + 1
 Thank you @lorrainetruong: for sharing your story. I went down hard today and instead of my normal behavior of pushing through and continuing the ride, I decided to let my wife and the rest of our group know I was rattled and was going to go back to the car. I couldn’t help but think of your story today as I was pedaling back and I just wanted to say thank you for your courage to share your story with the rest of the world. I hope it helps to know that at least 1 rider took your words and experience to heart.
  • + 1
 @Greenday9261: Thank you for your kind words and for taking care of your brain!!
  • + 30
 Gosh!!! Sitting here nearly is tears, i'm a father of a daughter chasing her dreams who's had mental issues but nowhere as serious as this and it kills me every day and will live with me till the day i die, no words can make things better so all i can say is my love and best wishes for the future go out to lorraine.
  • + 27
 Matt, I think that is a beautifully written article on a very hard, very personal topic. Well done to you and to Lorraine for sharing such a personal struggle. Reading between the lines, I can only imagine her day to day struggle. I sincerely hope that Lorraine has the love and support that she needs, and continues to recover. All the best Matt
  • + 6
 Agreed, this was a great article. It didn't draw things out, it didn't offer BS platitudes, it was short and to the point. That makes it powerful.
  • + 22
 I think what we can take from it is growing up to the point where if we take a hard or weird hit, we'll call it a day. Then if nothing is apparent directly we'll still monitor ourselves for a next few days. If any symptoms arise it's time to go to the hospital, no matter if it's deadline at work, roof to be fixed, our sisters wedding, sons game.

But all I am thinking about is that this is an easy part. The thing is, how to grow up to a situation when someone else takes a hit, how to tell him/ her, it's over for today, maybe weekend, maybe even week man/woman. And what to do with a stranger who just hit their head against a tree? How do we break the stoke, ride and beers, and take a bold stance: "you should call it a day pal". All that and then we put ourselves at risk of becoming an a*shole/bitch. Probably to everyone around. It's a damn hard situation to put yourself into in a sport where "have fun, get rad, be tough" can have a rather unpleasant spin to it where it becomes a grudge.

Any thoughts?
  • + 16
 Waki, its a fair question.

But, any day, I'll take the "risk of becoming an a*shole/bitch" against the risk of someone having a preventable brain injury. To not do call it out is simply a failure of courage, in my opinion.
  • + 18
 @beerhunter: huh, I've seen such failure too many times, whether it is potential brain or muscular injury, so I wouldn't call it "just being a coward" since I know that such courage does not come in abundance. Especially in a climate where a widely recognized courageous thing to do is to keep riding. Often rewarded by applause. Just look up comment section after Rogatkin fell down the cliff on Rampage. How many racers eat prime crap, get up and keep riding while everyone is cheering they did so. Bulldogs crash in Losinj? So no it is not that simple it requires a shift in the collective perception.
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns: Things are definitely shifting though. Every sport has shone a spotlight on the issue in recent years and hopefully the number of people who would be scared to say the "uncool" think is shrinking. The fact that this conversation is happening so often must mean that the collective consciousness is gradually absorbing it.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: I know things are shifting but they do by people taking action, not waiting for X number of videoes with a numerous "insert your coolest riders name". Being tough, showing off to peers is embedded by evolution in monkey parts of our brains whereas "risk vs reward" calculation is handled by frontal cortex Wink
  • + 19
 I crashed last year and knew I bumped my head. A runner help me up but suggested I should call it quits. I rode home and when coming out of the shower I thought to myself that I don't want to end up like Michael Schumacher, and not wake up tomorrow. So to be on the safe side I went to the ER. Turns out, I had a fracture in my neck, but the head was fine. I think there is an element where we have to take responsibility for our selves. I doubt I would have continued even without the runner, but in a group, I might have tried for a bit. I don't think a bystander can always judge the impact you had, so we have to be honest to ourselves. We should not ridicule the person who decides to call it quits, but rather support the person and maybe even take them to the hospital. It's a bit easier for us with universal healthcare, who don't have to weigh up an ER bill, though.
  • + 7
 I think one has to differentiate between professional athletes and casual riders. It is a much more easy decision to call it a day after a hard crash, when the only thing being at stake is a day riding with friends (even though this can be hard enough). It is waaay harder, when a potential career as a professional athlete is at stake. Chances to get into the business are very slim and many young people know that and that’s also often the reason why people keep pushing on, despite taking a breather would be the wiser option. I believe the race teams and race organizer should be responsible here. I believe a rule that prohibits racers to go on after a hard hit should be fine. When you look at skiing, this rule does basically exist already, because it just makes no sense to go on after a crash.

In my private ride groups I am really ok with telling my buddys to stop going on if its necessary. I am old enough for that now.
  • + 22
 @BenPea: when someone comments "these bmx guys should wear a helmet" he still gets negproped or gets a "you must be fun at parties". I'm sure things are changing at the top, but at the bottom it looks like nothing is changing
  • + 9
 @zede: And you know what? A year ago I would have responded negatively too (I once said something about "just appreciating it as art" or some bollocks), but now I reluctantly agree. Getting old and sensible, finally. So I'm an example of the aforementioned shift.
  • + 5
 @BenPea: yeah but the goal is not to make "old"/sensible/wise people wear a helmet, but rather that everyone wears a helmet (including young YOLO rowdy bmxers) and is aware of TBI.
Anyways im sure nothing will change, it's 2018, some people still don't use their belt when driving, people are still driving drunk, smoking, still not using condoms, why would they start wearing helmets?
  • + 0
 @zede: nah, you just pushed yourself into pitiful whining thought trap, judging the whole community based on actions of a couple of idiots. Everything gets better, people are more and more aware of all sorts of issues like with smoking, sugars, TBI, hunan rights, environment, I just think where my parents were with all this at my age and it’s just mind blowing. Cool kids will keep on riding without a helmet, reasonable engineers will keep on riding park in Bell Super Rs. Never forget to appreciate what we all have. I wish I could just go back to the shop and buy some weed now...
  • + 3
 I've had those incidents when I finished my ride/run after a hard hit 'cause I didn't want be the guy holding back the group or buddy...when I should have walked back to the car. Dumbest thing you can do.
  • + 1
 @zede: it's a process and we're all the same species, so there's no reason why others won't respond like I eventually did. I rode mtb without a helmet for years.
After a few months in the Alps, I realised that wasn't the best policy. Everyone has an epiphany at some point. The more you're exposed to the idea of a helmet being mandatory, the more likely you are to get on board. Hopefully, that's before you smash your skull in.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: but the whole point is to get cool kids to wear helmets and ER doctors to tell their patients "you got a concussion, so you don't take any risk for the next month".

I mean, the best freeskiers, bmxers, skateboarders are still not wearing a helmet. Somehow the mountainbike pros made wearing helmet look cool and now everyone under 50 ride mtb with a helmet. I wonder why this happened only in mtb.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I agree, a year or two they gave the “Spirit Award” to a rider who’d got up after a huge crash and competed. I really don’t think this is behaviour that they should be encouraging.
  • + 1
 @zede: Troy Lee Designs made it cool to wear helmets.
  • + 2
 In my riding group we don't let each other keep riding after a significant hit to the head. That's just part of taking care of your friends. Hopefully this attitude is becoming more common in the MTB community.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: i think a lot of that cheering/applauding is just relief to see someone get back up. take the Rogatkin example, I would have cheered just to see him wave to the crowd and wait for a medic to come check him out. I think most people were thinking the same thing; he was crazy to get back on his bike and carry on.
  • + 2
 @imho4ep: Sounds about right. And you're not going to boo the guy. At that point he's running on positive vibes alone. If nobody official is going to stop him, then you may as well yell a prayer at him. You can't ask spectators to step in at a pro event.
  • + 1
 @imho4ep: I didn’t mean the initial cheering, I meant how people were reqcting days after the whole thing.
  • + 1
 From what I've read the absolute worst thing for a head injury, as appears to be evident in the article, is to re-injure it before it heals. If you smack your head hard enough to be concussed, you really do need to take your self out of the game for weeks to month. Hell skip a whole season, it's not worth the risk.
  • + 11
 @WAKIdesigns, @beerhunter: I really think telling your riding buddy he/she could stop riding after a hit to the head is:
1. Very difficult to do
2. Brave
3. Meaning you care
4. Potentially life saving - the second impact syndrome is a potentially deadly form of "light TBI" - suicide rate in people with TBI is high.
5. MEGA IMPORTANT!! - when you get concussed, your decision making process can be impacted (it definitely was/is the case with me), so you don't know you actually aren't ok (I still think I can take my DH bike and go riding and it's been almost 3 years!). You can't process the fact that something is wrong... you need to be protected from that, even against your will.

That's why I want to fight for protocols to be made, so no injured rider can keep riding at races. Even if all riders just want to keep pushing with all their soul.
I was very sad at the 1st DH World cup to see Brook jumping back on his bike after his crash. Sure he was braved and is tough. But what if it means all go wrong??
And I hope that if racing show the example, the whole MTB community will change how it sees concussions..

@sadem: I completely agree. There is a lot of pressure to keep riding, especially if you don't have X-rays to prove you have a broken bone or something...

Cheers everyone for this super constructive discussion Big Grin
  • + 4
 @lorrainetruong: I used to work for a laboratory that had a lot of expensive equipment, and when it was shipped it usually arrived in crates with g-force stickers that would change color if they had exceeded a certain g-force to indicate they had been mis-handled during shipping. I wonder if races should require that or some other force detector technology on your helmet and not allow you to continue without being evaluated by a medic if a certain force is exceeded.
  • + 6
 I remember 20 years ago. We were were pre riding a cross country course back when they would run Dh on the Saturday . We were waiting for a chance to cross the dh course when the rider ate it super hard in front of us. his bike went flying, he got up fast went for his bike but couldnt even walk and was falling all over the place I watched my coach grab this monster of a guy bear hug and gently held him down....telling him he’s done....the guy was screaming “lM IN A RACE....I NEED MY BIKE” And resisting...crashed rider was a big guy.... took strength and courage but He just held him there and we got the paramedics and fetched his bike....never heard what happened which is likely a good thing...the guy was super angry....but it felt like the right thing then....know it was now.
  • + 2
 @lorrainetruong: We should consider though that we all stopped breathing for a second when Brook crashed and only (humanly) showed cheer when we recognised he was what we considered "well" - being back on the bike rolling down the hill. I think there is a line to discuss, to what extend we speak about our cheering as "big balls no pain" action or a pure relief of our fear that something serious did happen to a rider...
  • + 3
 @Mikevdv: Hopefully there will be some device to signal possible brain trauma one day.
But unfortunately what happens to the helmet in term of stress and acceleration doesn’t always predict what happens in the skull or in the brain.. Frown
  • + 3
 @tomonda: Sure! I really don’t criticise the croud or the spectators. It was great to see that he seemed ok. I really agree. Smile
I don’t criticise the rider either. If you feel kind of ok, you sure want to ride down and avoid all the trouble of being helped down the hill. I’ve done that too many times...
And even the medics are not in fault. Because so far there is no protocol to stop a rider saying “I’ll keep riding”. That’s what I wish to change. I wish the race officials had the power to say NO-you don’t ride down..
And the rider can always give a thumb up to the camera Big Grin

It’s not only for brain injuries. What if you have a broken rib and you puncture your lung on the way down?

Again, I’m not criticising anyone! I just thing we should push toward some safety in these situations. Taking risks is part of the sport and I really don’t want to stop that. But when your race is already ruined by a crash, why not be a little protected by the rules? Smile
  • + 16
 Thank you for telling us your story, please don't loose hope. As someone that has suffered a traumatic brain injury with multiple year(s) of significant symptoms, I can say that the body is amazingly resilient and delayed recovery after several years is not unheard of.
  • + 6
 Thank you! I hope I can keep improving. Smile
  • + 13
 Stories like this are a massive reminder on how fragile our lives are, as well how F'ing lucky we are to be able to ride bikes..hell, just stand up, walk, talk..... I began volunteering with foster kids about 3yrs ago teaching them art, I'm now working on getting a mtn bike program organized for them. I also volunteer with a group that takes disabled people surfing...we have autistics, people paralyzed by accidents, many born missing limbs, unable to live outside of a chair, blind, deaf, can't speak and so on...to see the electricity that goes through the body of a person that can barely feed themself when we push them on a board into a tiny wave...it changes you. I'm tearing just typing this. You see the world different, you appreciate what you have, how fortunate you are to be born so healthy and strong. It also helps you appreciate this day...right now, because like Lorraine it could be taken away so easily and quickly. We all take part in incredibly risky activity...because it's fun, it's healthy, it keeps us sane...but there is the risk, but hell...slip in the tub and you can suffer similar fate, so you can't not live. I strongly encourage everyone to volunteer with organizations helping those less fortunate...it's good karma, it's wonderful for your soul, it is one step closer to creating positive change in the world. I've created a business that as it grows I'm going to support more community outreach, even sponsor athletes, but once you get involved with helping others you want to do it more, and you start meeting other people that share the kindness, compassion, empathy that you develop...you hear some of the stories. You grow, you bond. My '17 was the worst year of my life for a few reasons...I went dark, substance abuse to run from what was happening, but I had enough and then once the water warmed up I was taking these people out to catch tiny waves and once again I realized my problems were nothing...absolutely nothing. I can get out of a chair when I want...simple as that! We become spoiled, expect things in life, take for granted what we are...this changes and it's a good change! If you want to truly become human, explore depths of yourself you didn't know, love more than ever...give back, be with those less fortunate. I hope Lorraine can heal and get back on a bike. I know these aren't brain injuries but I now know two people that were paralyzed in an accident from the neck down...one, a friend for years, tried to end his life multiple times by spitting out the feeding tube. Didn't work and now he walks, works..functions. He has a wobble but who cares! The other guy catches waves but can't feel anything from chest down, but with one arm the art he makes is insane!! Talk about an inspiration! So, perhaps Lorraine will make a similar recovery and push beyond what is expected by medical professionals. I wish her all the best!
  • + 14
 Thank you everyone for your nice comment and good wishes ❤️
It will take me some times to read them all and respond to some, as I need help to read so much! But I am already very touched by all your support...
  • + 14
 a grim reminder of how limited our understanding of human brain and the ability to fix things there still are. Hope she gets better and rides again!
  • + 10
 Really powerful article.

I was out with a mate and we looked at a line with a tricky gap - not much of a run in to a tight corner, then a gap immediately after - your standard gap filled with broken TV's, sharp reinforcing bar sticking out of the ground, bear traps, broken bottles and all that good stuff people like to put into the gap (*realistically it's not even particularly big. Not even a problem if you had a decent run in but it's awkward; the takeoff is rock and the front wall of the landing is rock, plus it is hard to get the speed to clear and it looks really intimidating because you just know if you come up short, it's going to be bad). I took a couple of runs at it but wasn't confident I had enough speed so didn't hit it. My mate was happy to say there was no way he would even consider it, but was giving me a hard time about not hitting it - exactly what you want from a mate - to give you the push you need to try something.

I went back the next day by myself and hit it....I cleared it, felt great and decided to hit it again after realising I had a camera in my bag. I set the camera up and gave it another nudge, but inevitably had to tweak the bars a bit, and push the back out a bit... sure enough I landed in a bit of a dip to the edge of the landing, and tweaked a bit quickly became 90 degrees and I was over the bars and hit my head really hard on the ground.

I wear glasses and when I got up I didn't realise they had come off, I had a vague feeling that my vision was bad when I got up but didn't really know why. I went back to the camera and turned it off and put it back in my bag, checked out the broken phone in my pocket, my ripped up shorts, both forearms pouring out blood, torn shirt, scraped up bike, found my shoe which had flown off (pro tip: every time I've OTB'd and my shoe(s) have flown off, it's been a pretty f*cking good crash) etc. and staggered around walking/cursing off the pain for a few minutes before I even noticed that my vision was blurring because my glasses had flown off and were way down the track. I just happened to notice them - if I hadn't seen them I don't think I would have realised they were missing until a lot later.

Embarrassingly I put my glasses back on and once I could see better I thought I was OK and took off down the trail. Unsurprisingly I crashed again not long after, it wasn't too bad in the grand scheme of things, just shouldered a tree but my head glanced it on the way past and I was back on the ground even more blurry and dizzy but this time my glasses were still on. I remember feeling sick after this crash but not much else - thinking back on it I know where the crash was but I remember thinking about it over the next few days and confusing it with a completely different trail.

I rode down the rest of the trail slowly and remember it being difficult to get my bike on the back of the car. Some other riders in the carpark were talking to me about something, and I remember being keen to get away quickly because they were asking about my crash (bleeding arms) but it was hard to focus on the conversation. I felt confused. Drunk.

Even more embarrassingly I drove home.

This was a few months ago and I have (to my knowledge) had no further effects from the two hits to my head (and have hopefully fully recovered) but reading this article really puts these into perspective. The first one was (to my mind) probably serious enough that I should have gotten checked out. The second one I don't think was as bad but due to my state at the time I'm not sure. But I certainly shouldn't have ridden away after a couple of head knocks and driving was really stupid.
  • + 5
 Keep an eye on that. I had an OTB and hit my head (in helmet) and felt kind of sick but finished off. Never went to the doctor, but later that day/evening I had little periods where I'd be confused slightly or have some word slurring. My girlfriend checked my pupils and one was contracting slower than the other.

This was in the winter, so come summer I was riding again. I'd have dizziness every once in a blue moon, and the odd day where I would just feel 'off' on the bike. Almost like my bars weren't centered left-to-right.

Come October, almost a year after my February accident I had 5-7 days the entire month where I didn't experience headaches, light/sound sensitivity, dizziness, vertigo, etc. Got diagnosed as post-concussive syndrome. I thought I was finally recovered this January but just yesterday and today I've had some very minor symptoms. It wasn't even that bad of a concussion based on what I've read from you and others, but it's been troublesome for over a year off an on. I still seem to have some short term memory/maybe attention span effects from it and issues where I have a sentence in my head and halfway through have troubles finding the words I'm trying to say.

Who knows how many concussions I've had between other sports and when I rode without a helmet before I stopped for a few years. It's all pretty darn minor by this point, but it's scary stuff man. Hope you recover or are recovered without any issues.
  • + 2
 @StormLord: the next concussion is always easier to get than the one previous. Unfortunately the damage never fully heals, so even taking a few years off isn’t going to improve your resistance to the next one. The best thing to do is find a good doctor and have yourself evaluated, see what your current situation (baseline if you want for going forward) is and what the likelihood is of the next one. Remember it’s not just a blow to the head, it could be as simple as casing a jump and giving yourself “whiplash”. Then if something happens in the future you can find out what the proper course of action is and if it’s having long term effects that don’t appear obvious unless your being re-evaluated by a professional.

Caveat, I’m a mountain biker married to a pediatric neuropsychologist who trained at a rehab hospital, she was working with the TBI patients.
  • + 3
 I took a spill while commuting on a road bike in March 2017. I came off at ~25km/h only, but my head hit the tarmac first and took all the force of the impact.

My helmet was broken pretty badly, with both the outer shell and inner hard foam significantly cracked in 5 or 6 places. (KASK Protone, so a decent one).

I immediately felt nauseous and had to sit for 15 mins by the side of the road to get my bearings back. I then decided to carry on riding to work. I was more concerned about my bike and the egg size lump on my shin at the time and carried on my day...

I was traveling back home (I work away) the next day and found myself throwing up while on the train, feeling like I had a severe hangover. My wife took one look at me and knew I wasn’t alright. She asked me what happened at work the previous day and I couldn’t really tell her, it’s still all very fuzzy - it was a performance review for the year, of which I have no real memory.

Back at home I managed to slip down the stairs as my depth perception wasn’t quite right, and my kids immediately saw that I really wasn’t myself. I was marched to the doctors in short order... I took 3 months off the bike as the symptoms persisted on and off.

If I’m honest, I’m probably still not completely 100% a year later - I still have some slight concentration issues and dizziness occasionally. I have days on the bike where I am just ‘off form’ with no confidence and give it up. I’ve sold the road, CX and DH bikes (still have the enduro and XC), but I take a lot less risk. I dislocated my shoulder in January this year which forced another 3 months out, which was a blessing in disguise and compounded the recovery.

Please people, if you do have a knock to the head, stop riding and get checked out.

My heart genuinely goes out to Lorraine, hopefully she can stay strong and I really hope she is able to see some further recovery with time.
  • + 3
 Thanks all of you for sharing all this here!

I know how talking about the hard consequences of something as common as a "little concussion" can be hard.
But the more people talk about their experience and how long it can last, the more this will be taken seriously (hopefully)!
  • + 10
 You're welcome guys ! My neighbor is a remarkable woman !

www.mybrainmyrules.com/welcome
www.lorrainetruong.ch
  • + 11
 This is the most important article that’s been on PB and a must-read for everyone. Thank you for this.
  • + 8
 I've struggled with the effects of a concussion for over 10 years. "Hard" is an understatement. I was 22 when it happened, 33 now. I feel for Lorraine in everyway.

I literally have spent thousands of hours researching, looking for something that'll help, talking to hundreds of doctors, going to various therapies. What can be frustrating is the symptoms can feel a background annoyance (if even that) at certain times, and then be full on in your face "you are screwed" feeling at other times.

Out of all my time around this type of injury, this is the first case I've ever seen of a mTBI creating any sort of paralysis. I sincerely hope she gets a good doctor to look at her neck. Many doctors will miss the details of how a neck injury can cause all sorts of problems. (in my case, its where a lot of the dizziness comes from).

There are also pharmacological solutions she may want to seek or, or maybe she already is. (can really help with sleep)

Finally, physical therapy can be huge for someone in her shoes. Hoping she finds her stride again, no pun intended, with stuff like this.

Oh, and in case she is reading this, I'm going through a "hard" blip at the moment, but overall my life is pretty good. I am a financial analyst, I work for the "other" mountain bike site on the side, I race bikes, I ski, I consult for a few companies, I have a cool dog, I ride 150 days a year, ski 150 days a year, I own a house (that I bought with money I earned).

...but yeah, I still deal, like today. Total fog, total out of it, dizzy, blurry vision, and a bit depressed. But I know I'll find something else to help, just a merry-go-round to manage it.

J
  • + 4
 Thanks for sharing!

My neck's been checked. My vertebra's are a little damaged, but that was from a previous crash in 2012 (that also cost me a moderate TBI). But thanks for asking!
I know some other people with mTBI dealing with paresis...

I have a great physical therapist. Big Grin I'm also helped by a great occupational therapist.
It took some time to get the right medication, but I am quite stable now, which is great! I just wish they wouldn't have me taking weight...

Hoping to follow your path!
Cheers
  • + 1
 What did you do for your neck? I'm 1.5 years out from a minor concussion and i just can' shake the dizziness. I can deal with it and get better through vestibular therapy but any small bump brings symptoms back (tripping, jumping, pothole etc). Just now thinking it's my neck and not my brain since i don't really have major cognitive issues.
  • + 1
 @witzode: Ther isn’t much I can do for my neck. My brain is so sensitive it can’t handle much work on such a sensitive part.

This said, you don’t have to have cognitive issue to have brain dizziness.. but a good idea to get your neck checked! Smile
  • + 7
 Yet another person struggling for a response, wonderful article Matt. Lorraine here is to hoping every day gets a little bit brighter for you. The struggles you face are unimaginable to me but the attitude you show towards dealing with it is truly inspirational.
  • + 10
 First-class article. Props to Matt for doing this. Lorraine, all the best.
  • + 6
 Great article! I also want to congratulate PB readers for the comment section : constructive arguments, well wishes, etc. On a side note, I never based my helmet choices on safety. I always looked at style, ventilation, weight, comfort and price thinking the safety is probably equivalent. Reading all the TBI comments, it made me think about going for a helmet from Kali of other brand with safety innovations as a priority. In 20+ years of mtb, I have yet to hit my head in a crash. (knock on wood).
  • + 6
 I too am struggling with expressing my thoughts without sounding condescending or pitiful. I know from a friends' experience with a severe head concussion that's really the last thing one needs. So I try to be brief: Firstly, don't give up the struggle, Lorraine! From what I gather (don't follow EWS that closely), you're actually a fighter, so keep this up!
Secondly, the friend I mentioned hit her unprotected rear of her skull on thick ice while out ice-skating. She was completely out of the (social) picture for at least a year, the symptoms described in the article are very close to hers, too. Exhausted all the time, concentration issues, nausea, scattered brain feelings, etc. She used to be a journalist and can't work in her profession anymore, because it is too demanding on her head. BUT she made great strides in year 2 and 3 and now she's almost back to where she was in terms of day-to-day functioning. How you ask? I didn't believe it myself, but she managed to put herself out that hole a bit by immersing herself fully into learning and teaching Yoga (Kundalini, in her case). Her doctors almost wrote her off for good, but apparently, Yoga helps her a lot to focus on her body again in conjunction with her mind. In the end, so much depends on personal belief and the will to make it happen. If Yoga does that for my friend, I am happy to put all my doubts aside concerning this approach. Like the article said, it's different for everybody, but I wanted to put this out there to let you know there might be an option you didn't try out yet. My friend is Yoga teacher now, she passed the teaching exam post-concussion (alright, it took her almost 3 years in total, but so be it!), and she even can drive a car comfortably for an hour or so. All I am trying to say is, that there might be light at the end of the tunnel for you yet! Best of luck on your recovery!
  • + 2
 Yoga might be hard if half of your body is basically paralyzed.
  • + 2
 @sadem: True, but the most important factor is still willpower, imho. My friend couldn't properly walk the first few months either, even reading or talking wasn't really possible for her. I am totally aware that it's different for everybody and I don't want to give the impression that I dish out generic advice while having no clue what I'm talking about. Finding the right therapist/teacher for this might also be key...
  • + 2
 I am doing adaptive yoga. It means I need 1-1 session because the teacher has to adapt everything to my difficulties.
I don't think it will be a massive life changing thing for me, but as it's adapted, I enjoy it without getting too frustrated with my disability. Smile
  • + 2
 @lorrainetruong: Thanks Lorraine, for taking the time to reply to this. The last part you mentioned is key, I think. Overcoming the psychological mechanisms of frustration is one of the hardest and maybe the most crucial thing. No matter if Yoga or something else helps, keep it up!
  • + 6
 Good article, and a good point from Lorraine that you should make sure you are getting the medical attention you need, and to be aware that's not necessarily covered by what you will get in A+E/ER.

I've taken a pretty hard hit to the head and ended up getting my face stitched up and some dental work, but because I wasn't knocked unconscious there was no consideration of a brain injury and I didn't push it.

It was a very strange experience next time I tried to ride my bike knowing how to do something but with my brain being unable to control my body properly to make it happen.

The headaches, short term memory problems, depression and inability to control my emotions properly were very unpleasant and lasted at least a year. I don't feel that I ever totally recovered to how I was before. Could there have been a medical intervention at the time that could have helped? I'll never know.
  • + 3
 Thanks for sharing!

Yes, concussion/TBI can easily be overlooked by medics, especially when there are other - more urgent - injuries to treat..
I know someone who was sent home.. but got lost on the way because she didn't remember where she lived!

This said, I am not complaining ebout ER.. they save life and that's already pretty awesome!
  • + 6
 Thanks so much for sharing your story, Lorraine! It's a tough thing to talk about.

I'm currently going through a much less serious version of what you're experiencing: I have complete control of my body, but I'm having to retrain my brain to use my eyes properly. For me, the most sobering part is how easily these symptoms can arise. I did not go unconscious during my crash, and my MIPS-equipped helmet didn't even look bad. However, I felt dizzy, so I stopped riding and went home. I took effectively four weeks off because it was the end of the season anyways, but felt better after two days. Yet, about a month and a half after the concussion, I started having vertigo that was the result of damage to the brain cells in charge of making your eyes converge on an object.

Morals of the story, which I've learned a lot about after seeing a specialist on this subject: it doesn't have to be a bad concussion, it doesn't have to be a successive concussion, and you need to go to a specialist knowledgeable of these things if you are experiencing more permanent symptoms, even if they took a while to develop and don't seem directly connected to the concussion. I did find a specialist after a few months, and I'm still in eye-brain rehab four months after finding her. There don't have to be a lot of damaged brain cells for your life to be turned upside down, just the right ones.
  • + 2
 Some truth here.. Smile ❤️
  • + 5
 This is the wisdom everyone needs to learn: “Lorraine is still there underneath the symptoms. "To a young rider, I think I would say that if you hit your head, even though you can keep riding, you're actually not riding well. Because if you tell a young rider 'you might have problems in the future,' I don't know, I think the will to go riding is bigger than anything that might happen in the future. I think telling them, 'you would ride much better if you stop for a week or two than if you keep trying and pushing through the symptoms.' I think that hopefully is a message that will get through to them.”

As a ski patroller I can’t tell you the number of times, some young buck got knocked out and refused to go to the ER. One day all I could do was tell his crying girlfriend what to look for, because this guy had it all figured out. I feel sorry for Lorraine but through her tragedy she is giving the best advice anyone can hear about a head injury. Remember it!
  • + 5
 Damn. For some reason I thought she was recovering more. I knew she wasn't going to ride/race again but I thought she was back to work and living relatively normally.

I"m glad you guys circled back on this story. I really hope she recovers. Sometimes it takes time and the brain figures out how to reroute everything. I'll hold out hope for that.
  • + 5
 Be Strong Lorraine, is a step by step long process to recovery but I'm sure you'll be back on your bike sooner or later. Remember reading about your crash, a young french rider possible the next contender for elite podiums on EWS. And next thing I know I was getting a tshirt with #myBrainmyRules logo, I really believe you will be riding again.
  • + 2
 Cheers @elyari! So nice to hear some people follow me from before I was a broken rider.. ❤️
By the way, I'm Swiss.. but I pardon you for this time Wink
  • + 2
 @lorrainetruong: Ohhh...sorry! damn...
  • + 1
 @elyari: Hihi, that's quite ok! Smile
  • + 7
 Thank you Lorraine, You may have a saved a life or prevented a serious injury by sharing that with us. Make those skids a little longer
  • + 2
 I will! Big Grin
  • + 5
 This is a sad update. I have been following Leanne's story via articles like this. It brings home the very real dangers of this sport and is very close to home for me as my wife crashed and injured her back on Monday this week. Three cracked vertebrae. She is mobile but so sore she can't work/drive/ride etc and must see a specialist. I am hoping for a full recovery for her and all the best to Leanne too, its been a long time but anything is possible.
  • + 4
 I turned 36 this year. The exact age my father had when he got hit by a lightning, got paralyzed and got a braininjury. He was a vivid skier and sailor. I am honoring him (and my family) by stepping down from lines with two much danger if something goes wrong. It was hard the other day. a bunch of us out riding when we hit this section with 25 m of rag dolling
straight down a rockface with trees all over if you crash. The hardest thing is to step away from your own ego. Not being the shit all the time.
  • + 4
 Thank you for sharing Lorraine's story. And most of all....thank you Lorraine for being you.

Many of us that have experienced TMIs or physical trauma can certainly relate. What many people don't understand is it's not just the physical part that is so agonizing. It is the mental part that is the long term hell. The worst thing I would hear is "it's going to be okay". Well, I didn't want it to be okay, you know like going to be okay later, I needed it to be okay now. I totally get her statement.

Play hard....Play safe. A split second can change everything!
  • + 4
 A well written and thoughtful article. It undoubtedly took courage for Lorraine to tell her story, though I think it is important for us all to see the potential consequences when things go wrong. The article portray the sense of helplessness we presumably all felt reading this, wanting to tell Lorraine that it would be ok but knowing that this wouldn't be an entirely accurate reflection.

The older I get, or perhaps the more obvious it becomes that I have a lot to lose, the more I find myself thinking about things like this. "Bones mend press send" and other similar slogans (that I have uttered myself on many occasions) work well for selling bikes and t-shirts but Lorraine's situation highlights the potential real world consequences, no matter how good a rider we are, as undoubtedly Lorraine is from the sounds of it. I think, as some others have said, attitudes to things like safety and head trauma in particular are slowly changing. People are getting things checked out, wearing proper protection...but it still feels like a long way to go, and as the article above suggests sometimes you can do everything right and be an expert in the field and still have awful things happen to you.

As with everyone else, thinking of you Lorraine, keep going and thank you for sharing.
  • + 4
 Stuff like Lorraine's story scare the shit out of me man.... Having had roughly 9 concussions myself I know exactly what scramble brains is like and hearing about stuff like this just makes it scarier. I guess sometimes no matter how badly you want to excel in our sport or be that next big thing making those huge impacts on the sport, you really just need to draw the line because being able to live out the rest of your life healthy and independently sometimes just outweighs what could end up happening to you. Honestly I guess after reading this I finally figured out that I need to think long and hard about this myself. Thanks illuminating that light bulb in my head, prayers healing vibes, and donations every chance I get your way. I hope things get easier mate... but if they don't always remember we got your back. Good luck my friend
  • + 3
 Thank you... ❤️
  • + 3
 are these kind of injuries common in moto too? I don't know much about this particular subject, but what little I know is mostly from bicycle riders (mtb, bmx) or NFL players.. is it related to the helmets we use? are motocross helmets better? I mean if it's related to the helmets, f*ck a downhill full face, just got with a mx helmet , even it's just a little more protective or whatnot, isn't little bit going to help a whole lot?
  • + 3
 Good question about a MX helmet versus a downhill. Traumatic brain injuries are common in moto too. While it might seem like the solution is to wear a bigger helmet to protect yourself, it doesn't necessarily protect you from a TBI because brain injuries aren't always just a result of impact against ground. In some crashes, wearing a stiffer helmet could actually cause you more damage than if you were wearing something with more 'give', but I'll leave the scientists to explain that.

It's important to know that the mechanism for many concussions (which clinicians call "mild traumatic brain injuries") happen because your head hits the ground which makes the soft, squishy brain get rattled around inside the skull.

My understanding is that current helmet technology is focussed on trying to divert the forces from impact (especially rotational forces), so your brain doesn't rattle around as much inside. Engineers develop helmet to meet the demands of mtb, which have different demands than moto, which thus results in different helmets for each sport. Crashes in moto and downhill look a lot different, which is why they have different helmets for each discipline.

There are a few things you can do to help prevent TBIs though. The best thing you can do to prevent a serious TBI, as Lorraine suggests, is to allow minor concussions to heal before putting yourself at risk for more. One single mild concussion is unlikely (although it does happen) to have longterm serious consequences, if you let them heal appropriately and follow evidence-based treatments that a doctor or physio trained in concussion management prescribes for you. Repeated insults to the brain are exponentially worse than single assaults. Other basic preventative strategies are to replace helmets after crashes, riding within your ability, develop appropriate risk-taking strategies (inspecting features before sending them), knowing the limits of your ability, taking conservative risks on trails you don't know, etc.
  • + 3
 yes. Look at JS7 and why he isn't racing anymore...
  • + 2
 Sadly, TBIs occur a lot in MX too..

As @lalalalaura very well said, the helmet can't completely protect the brain, because the latter can move inside the skull. So the helmet can take some of the impact energy, but can't absolutely protect the brain..
I've wrote a little piece on that some times ago:
www.pinkbike.com/u/lorrainetruong/blog/insider-out-words-of-a-brain-injured-rider--1.html

I wish we could do something similar to was woodpecker do: to not get concussed when doing there crazy wood tapping, they stabilize their brain with their tong!!
Just need to work how to adapt this to humans now.. hahaha Big Grin
  • + 6
 I wish you all the best with your recovery. It won't be speedy, so I wish you at least noticeable progression.
  • + 4
 Thank you!
  • + 4
 If you race the helveticup (swiss enduro series) click that little button at the checkout and make your contribution for Lorraine, not once, do it every race! One way to help Lorraine on her long way
  • + 2
 ❤️
  • + 3
 I went down hard at Dirtfrest 2014 at Raystown Lake in central PA, USA. Don't remember the accident really but I went OTB at 20mph+. EMTs said I was out for 10 min. Had a gash around my left orbital and trail rash of course. Woke up in the ambulance with blood all down my left side etc. Took me a bit to answer questions so they flew me trauma 1 to a big hospital 20min by air away.

I got lucky. Major concussion of course and stitches but all scans came back clean and I walked out a few hours later. I still get some headaches and my depth perception is a bit off but no other lasting affects as far as I know.

My helmet saved my life. It took most of the hit and then my face took the rest. I'm 100% sure I'd be dead with out it.

I really do hope Loraine can keep a positive attitude and adapt. I wish her nothing but the best.
  • + 3
 She is a tuff girl, but she also crashed a lot from what I read about her. There's only so many concussions our little brain baskets can take and at her young age the risk becomes amplified. I see that a lot, young riders smacking their heads way too often. I see it with kids learning BMX dirt jumping and often in MMA. Young kids getting concussions at ages like 9 to 14 years old is not cool because there brains are still developing. I hope helmet technologies keep developing at the pace they are now, maybe someday we will never have to worry about head injuries again!
  • + 3
 Thanks for sharing, and remind about this serious injury.

I hope you can find a new and meaningfull path for your life, that can bring hapiness, and some sense to "fight the demons" and live another day... weeks, months, years, decades.
  • + 2
 Thank you for this kind wish ❤️
  • + 2
 Good read today. Besides being a great article, it also seems to inspire a quite thoughtfull and positive side of the pinkbike community, great comments in here too! Best of luck to Lorraine and keep riding safe to everybody.
  • + 2
 The rational time to get a safer helmet is BEFORE you've ever had a concussion. You probably won't. You'll tell yourself it's just marketing, or you don't crash that much, or it doesn't fit quite right, or whatever. But after you get your concussion, and realize how terrifying it is, then spending an extra 100 bucks on a safer helmet will be easy. Except that, once you've had one concussion, subsequent concussions can happen much more easily, and no helmet in the world will be able to stop them. So you'll wonder, what if I'd been wearing a better helmet when I crashed, would I have avoided all this? (My recommendation: Leatt or Kali, not MIPS unless it's the new spherical and not fullface.)
  • + 4
 Thanks for this words! I hope they reach some. Smile

It's often hard to explain to people the difference between face safety (full face) and brain safety (light helmet). I wrote a little piece about that some time ago:
www.pinkbike.com/u/lorrainetruong/blog/insider-out-words-of-a-brain-injured-rider--1.html
  • + 2
 @lorrainetruong: I agree. The dilemma for folks looking for the best helmet to reduce concussion risk is that some of the designs that offer the most promising approaches to impact and rotational forces are somewhat larger and heavier. (I have in mind the dual-shell designs from 6d and the Bell Super DH, in contrast to the single-shell designs of Kali and Leatt.) We don't have data to prove whether those designs are overall more effective for reducing concussion risk or not, so individual consumers have to decide for themselves.
  • + 1
 @lorrainetruong: Hi Lorraine, what are your thoughts regarding full face helmets concussion-wise? On one hand you have the increased coverage, but on another there is increased weight and volume. I admit I'm a bit lost here. ( @Phillyenduro tagging you too Smile )

I very strongly wish that you feel better at some point. I admire your strength, I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. I hope that your perseverance and patience will give some good results Smile
  • + 2
 After reading this, I feel for tremendously. I, like I'm sure many people here, have been through countless injuries, have suffered tolls on our personal and emotional lives, and have had serious doubts about our choice of past-time/profession. But few of us have paid the price that Lorraine has. And as much as we'd like to simply, "lapse back into bullshit clichés" like the author deftly stated, we shouldn't. It's not fair to Lorraine. So, I wondered if there weren't something else we might be able to say to Lorraine or offer Lorraine. It hit me all of a sudden, and I'd like to offer it here for other like minded people to think on and adopt. That is, Lorraine, we're all in this, and we're all here for you. We're together. This is why we're here. You need anything, you need us, you need to talk, we're not going away. We'll stand by you, with you. Let us know.
  • + 3
 Big hugs to Lorraine!!

A Movie with Alec Baldwin and Will Smith (brain game) years ago talk about the scandal of hidden long term brain damage caused by concussion in american football...
  • + 4
 Hard not to tear up. Another person’s hardships can save our own, if we can learn from our mistakes. Lorraine, your a hero for sharing your story.
  • + 2
 Thank you for those kind words...
I wish no one would ever be in my situation anymore... ❤️
  • + 2
 This is a message that needs to get out there! I had a spinal injury and that's clearly visible, but brain injuries are like she said "invisible" most of the time and people need to watch their symptoms closely after a hit to the head. Two weeks, heck two months off the bike is better than a lifetime!
  • + 2
 Thank you Pinkbike and Lorraine for this insight into what a brain injury can look like. We often forget how fragile we are and what it takes to ensure that we stay healthy and continue to ride and care for those around us. Keep up the rehab work Lorraine, you inspire me to be a better human.
  • + 4
 Thank god for socialized medicine. Seeing that Lorraine has the resources she needs to travel through this exhaustive process is encouraging. Best wishes.
  • + 3
 One oddity of Swiss health insurance is that accident cover is often provided by your employer via an organisation like SUVA. They’ve been paying for my care for over two years now following a little “misjudgement” on a bike destroyed my knee and I’m very grateful for the level of care.
  • + 4
 @korev: SUVA actually let me down after 2 years.. I was costing too much and brain injuries are too "invisible" and unpredictable (my case is by fare not unique in this)..
I never thought that being Swiss and paying all my insurances, etc. I could have a rough time financially after an accident. Frown

Luckily I have great friends, an amazing sister and many people have donating towards my rehab! Smile
  • + 2
 This article hit home for me because it was a window to what could have been. When I was 23 I fell 2 stories and landed face first onto concrete. Skull was fractured down the center of my forehead, another fracture at the back from the impact, orbital bone around my right eye was shattered and I had cerebral fluid leaking out my nose and ears for months afterward. 3 days in the hospital, 2 weeks of the worst headaches imaginable and the aforementioned leaks were the worst of it. I've been told that my personality changed to some degree after the accident as well but for the most part I am oblivious to this. I seem to have gotten off easy without any lasting effects compared to some but I have this feeling that some day this injury will catch up with me one way or another. I wish Lorraine the best.
  • + 2
 Lorraine, cheers to you for your fight! It takes sheer guts to do what you do and I applaud you. I work with a local TBI center here doing some volunteer work for fund raising, to hear those stories is both heartbreaking, and inspiring. My wife battles MS, and I know first hand what it takes to endure a life changing injury or diagnosis on a day to day basis. Get after it girl! On a side note, I too, crashed hard in an EWS (amateur) race in Aspen. Hit my head hard. It was YOUR story that kept me off the bike for the rest of that weekend. Lessons learned. All the best to you!
  • + 2
 Thank so much for sharing this. I’m sorry you crashed in Aspen, but I’m glad you took the time needed to recover! All the best to you and your wife!! Smile
  • + 3
 Could have happened to me, and probably most of us. I have kept riding multiple times after a nasty head hit. Never realized how dangerous it actually is. Wish her all the best!
  • + 5
 Excelllent article, Matt and PB. Powerful indeed. Keep up the fight, Lorraine.
  • + 2
 TBI's are bad news

Has EWS now got a concussion protocol pulling riders?

Last time I posted on this i believe the response was they were looking at it

It's very sad. It's poorly understood. It has long term impacts; Mira and CTE

And the one thing that really bugs the s$$t out of me is the continued support of videos on Mondays of athletes banging heads and no helmet.

Kids watch them

Where is the editorial policy on this? Yes adults can choose to knock themselves out. I don't care if they do, but pinkbike has some responsibity for editorial content and recognising kids watch them and they can not make informed decisions leaves them exposed to materials that they think may be really impressive (dropping a flight of stairs and banging their head) but they are not in a position to understand the consequences of it.

This is a sad story. I hope in time Lorraine improves but there is a public health aspect to this that should extend beyond writing an article about someone that has had a serious (perhaps preventable) injury
  • + 1
 I don't think EWS has a concussion protocol yet.. nor that DH world cup. (So far hey say it's up to the teams to do it). Crankworx are doing big efforts tho! Hat off to them Big Grin


And YES! I really agree that people don't wearing helmet should just not get any publication on websites. (you can't control social media unfortunately).
Nowadays helmet are "cool", so I think that there is no reason so support someone not playing the game.
  • + 6
 All the best Lorraine! Don’t give up!
  • + 2
 Hey @lorrainetruong,

I'm truly sorry for your accident, and hope that someday you'll be back shredding two wheels. While reading your story, a few podcasts I had listened to on post concussion brain health had come to mind, and the ways nutrition and supplementation can help. It's from a fitness podcast from New Jersey (as am I) so you'll have to sit through some Jersey Meatheads and associated language, lol. The information is good stuff though, and generally Europe is further ahead of us on this stuff, so this may be old news, but I figure anything that helps you out is worth looking into!

www.defrancostraining.com/operationrebuildjoed
(the info on brain chemistry is a little later, you can reference the show notes at the the bottom if you want to skip ahead)

www.defrancostraining.com/dr-rand-interview
(same story, there's a lot of general nutrition info, but the brain injury stuff is a bit later in the interview)

Hopefully it's something that you can get help for in Europe and helps your recovery! We're all pulling for you! Stay strong!!!
  • + 2
 I remember you in Finale Ligure at the first EWS.
Shocked to read about the brain injury... From that moment I follow you on social supporting #myBrainmyRules campaign...

a big hug!!!
  • + 2
 Makes you think should helmets have a form of damage indicator, post crash the dial turns red due to force? Means seek medical help no riding, may just save 1 person facing similar struggles
  • + 2
 American football is trying this kind of sensor-equipped helmet/mouth guards.
For now it's mostly for studies purpose, to understand better how TBI occures in sport. But who know, maybe in 10years the helmet will be so equipped!
  • + 3
 @lorrainetruong: use tech from power meters using stress sensor, would be able to calculate force and torsion flex. Fingers crossed
  • + 1
 I always think of you Lorraine. I had a crash where I hit my head but it was more the awkward way it happened and I felt my brain kind of hit inside, there was no pain or headache but for a week I couldn’t speak in order, everything was hard to access in my head even though you know it’s there, concentrating on walking down stairs was hard I had to sleep again when I got downstairs, I got lost in my own town, had to move very slowly everywhere or I’d get disoriented. It make me so sad to know that this is not just gone after a week for you. You are so brave to share this with everyone, I’m so glad your part of the Mtb community because it’s much more close knit than other sports. I really hope you can enjoy your small moments of joy, so wonderful how everyone describes your personality and whit x
  • + 1
 Thank you ❤️
  • + 3
 Really appreciate this article and Lorraines story. Life is too short and we are so lucky to just ride, walk or do anything. Keep fighting Lorraine.
  • + 1
 Thank you, so much of this hits home for me. I took 2 "not too bad" head hits that I biked away from...then weeks later, the symptoms started. Recovery is ongoing and does not feel linear.
I love Lorraine's advice to find a great sports med doc early. I think that would help any athlete through the long process of recovery that has NO clear path or timeline. Education is key, because this is not a mind over matter condition. It is debilitating.
I hope the more this article and others, are shared and discussed, that people become aware of the cost and risk of continuing to ride after the first head hit. This is especially important for parents of little rippers!
I wish you continued progress Lorraine!!
  • + 1
 I hope things will ease for you too!! ❤️
  • + 5
 Great article, Lorraine is an amazing gal.
  • + 4
 Be strong Lorraine! Good things happen to good people sooner or later. Be strong!
  • + 4
 Thank you for telling us your story! I wish you all the best and I’ll be much more careful next time.
  • + 6
 Sobering....
  • + 2
 Certainly is.
  • + 5
 Very moving and really well written. Thanks for sharing.
  • + 5
 C'est vraiment très beau
  • + 3
 All the best Lorraine.
It will take time, but you'll get there :-)
In the meantime keep it up and going and thanks for the awareness to others.
  • + 1
 Amazing story. Keep your head up, and keep pushing with your recovery! Things like this are always a welcome reminder of life and reality in lieu of stories with people bitching about bikes without a bottle cage. I had a crash a few years ago involving an OTB. It was at a local skate park just messing around on my day off. I don't remember driving there, or what I did there. I just remember waking up in the grass, bike next to me, and a cut up chin and cheek bone. I started walking around and felt super dizzy, with people telling me to sit back down. I was told I had been out for 3-4 minutes. People had to drag me out of the park. Couldn't drive home, couldn't get my bike on my rack, and didn't remember some peoples phone numbers. Finally got a ride to a family members house after everything, and was off the bike for a little over a month. That was all with a helmet on. I still remember that day as the day I don't remember. Pretty scary to think about these days. Glad I am still able to ride.
  • + 2
 Sure I'll keep pushing with the rehab Big Grin I am quite good at that... maybe a little too good sometimes, my brain doesn't like to be much pushed anymore. Hahaha.

I have to admit that keeping my head up it the hard bit in this..
I wish I was remembered for my style on a bike.. not for being brain injured..

This said, I am super glad your experience still let you ride. Thanks for sharing and Enjoy Big Grin
  • + 1
 Great article and thank you. I'm a weak rider without the necessary guts but my 6yo is not and is clearing tables and drops and stair jumps and anything else dangerous on a black diamond trail ride. Having more info described in this article is really helpful to help him make better decisions. (he's covered in Demon Armor and Bell Super 2r and shin/angle pads etc fwiw)
  • + 2
 Wow, can't see what kind of rider your 6yo is going to become! Big Grin

I think as a parent, just knowing that concussion are serious (and even more in kids) is a first good step toward a safer behaviour.
If I can give you a piece of advice, it would be to get your kid pass baseline concussion assessment (some googling can help here, hahaha). Having these test done before any concussion is important so you have something to compare to in case of crash (otherwise you are just compared to the general population). It really helps monitoring the brain safety of athletes!
I really wished I had done that in my youth..
  • + 3
 @lorrainetruong:

Thank you for saying it! Everyone: go get a baseline test.

I found a place in Minneapolis that will do this for $20.

tria.com/programs/sport-concussion/baseline-impact-testing

In the USA, given the current recognition of the potential for TBI in the game which should be called "Hand Egg", there are similar facilities elsewhere.
  • + 4
 Keep being that positive Lorraine! Never surrender!
  • + 3
 I liked that there was no reference to TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury. All brain injuries are traumatic.
  • + 4
 You are awesome. Thank you for sharing.
  • + 4
 Such a strong, beautiful soul. Don't ever give up, Lorraine.
  • + 1
 I know how much it sucks to limit or be limited in what you can do when what you love has taken you out. Leaves a big hole to fill. The best piece of advice I was given was to diversify your interests. New hobbies.
  • + 3
 Thanks for this!
I totally agree. New interest makes comparing with the "old me" less obvious.
In my case the hard bit is to find occupations that are adapted to my disabilities..
  • + 3
 And still so many people are riding without a helmet.. Thats something i really can not unterstand
  • + 1
 "In the ER they're just going to check that you're not going to die"

You should flag up that ER so people don't go to it. Its certainly not the experience I've had going to an A&E department
  • + 1
 That's great to hear Big Grin

I am not criticizing what ER do. Making sure people don't die is actually quite a success already!! Big Grin

But sometimes, when you look kind of ok, they don't always give you the good advice and follow up.
A friend of mine who got badly concussed asked the ER if she could race the next week and they just told her that it was up to her..
  • + 4
 That’s poor doctoring. Like so many things medical you get bad and good ones. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. @lorrainetruong:
  • + 4
 Thank you for sharing your story.
  • + 2
 And hats off to Pinkbike for running this. Easy to duck a story like this, worrying how advertisers will react. I appreciate that you're putting riders first.
  • + 3
 Dont know what to say, but thanks for the wise words and wish you all the best!
  • + 2
 Well that makes my PB price whining seem a little more petty than usual. And it's usually pretty petty.
  • + 2
 Thank you for sharing your story. Best wishes for the recovery process.

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