Rep. Markwayne Mullin
Rep. Markwayne Mullin
By U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin

During Brain Awareness Week, I want to shed light on the millions of Americans who suffer traumatic brain injuries and offer encouragement to the patients and families who are currently going through this. In the past, this week came and went for me. In January 2020, however, this changed.

My son Jim was 15 when he suffered a traumatic brain injury during a wrestling accident. In less than one day, Jim went from being an elite athlete at a high school learning level to a third-grade learning level, losing most of his motor skills, and suffering severe short-term memory loss. Many of you followed his journey and supported our family through it. We will never forget the prayers and encouragement we received.

Unfortunately, over two million Americans suffer from traumatic brain injuries every year. It is estimated over five million Americans are living with long-term disabilities because of these injuries. Further, those aged 15-19 are among the highest at risk. The brain is precious and vital for everyone, especially these growing teens.

To the families who are currently walking this road, please know you are not alone. As a parent, there is nothing worse than seeing your child hurt and not being able to do anything about it. Whether it’s finding the right doctor, addressing holes in treatment, or simply being heard – your voice matters. We went to multiple doctors before we finally felt like someone was listening.

By the grace of God, we were the lucky ones. Not all stories of traumatic brain injuries end like Jim’s. While he is not wrestling anymore, he is living a full and productive life. His motto throughout treatment was, “I learned it once, so I can learn it again.” My wife and I could not be more proud of his hard work.

When telling Jim’s story, I cannot go without sharing our immense gratitude for Dr. Mark Ashley and his entire team at the Centre of Neuro Skills in Bakersfield, California. We were very blessed to get Jim the treatment he needed at their facility.

If something is not right, I encourage you to get help and remember to take care of yourself. By taking this week to educate people on the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries, we can make a difference in many people’s lives. There is light at the end of the tunnel.