World champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce was a strong contender to win gold in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when an accident during a training session changed his life forever. A botched trick attempt left Pearce in a week-long coma and in critical care for 27 days. He shared the story of his recovery on HuffPost Live.
"It was crazy how I just kind of had to relearn everything," he told host Nancy Redd. "I had to learn how to talk and walk and swallow and eat and do everything all over again."
He continued, "I was one of the best in the world at competitive snowboarding, and to be one of the best in the world and then be dropped down and you know, not even to be able to walk anymore -- it was so crazy how quickly this happened. And how such a huge shift in my life had to happen so drastically, so quickly."
"It's just been kind of amazing having gone from being so good and such a top-level athlete at something to being so low and, you know, at the very bottom."
Pearce has worked to raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries and Pseudobulbar affect (PBA), which affects a large number of brain injury survivors. "It's this condition where you have uncontrollable laughing and crying. That's awkward. If you try and go out with your friends, and you just start laughing when they tell a joke and you can't stop, it gets really awkward and really weird," he explained to Redd.
"It's been cool to be brought up on these new things now, having gone through this, and given the opportunity to help. And there [are] ways to get help from this."
Pearce's journey from Olympic dreams to recovering from a traumatic brain injury was documented in the HBO film 'The Crash Reel.' The movies features footage of Pearce's crash, as well as the aftermath.
He admitted that he will likely never compete again. "It's been hard because I'm not going to be able to compete again because of some of the effects that this injury had on me, but mainly because of how fragile my brain is now. That's something that I'm really passionate about teaching people is, once your brain is severely injured, that it's--my brain is much different than yours now, in the sense that it doesn't have the same ability to take the hard hits that it once did. So I have to be very careful now."
But he does still get on a snowboard from time to time. "I still do get out there, and I still have so much fun snowboarding. I'm just so lucky that I can be out on the mountain. So I want to make sure that I can continue to do that and be as safe as I possibly can."