On Finding a New Normal With a Brain Injury

03/30/2015 03:35 pm ET | Updated May 19, 2015

Just two weeks after her wedding, Nicole was in a 2015-03-19-1426777321-5640398-TBITextBox.png serious motor vehicle crash. Even though she walked away from her totaled vehicle with almost no visible cuts or bruises, she had sustained a traumatic brain injury.


At the time of her injury, she was a doctor, finishing up her training, but due to her headaches, fatigue, and forgetfulness, her medical career has been on hold since the crash five years ago. Nicole has been receiving therapy and rehabilitation, and she continues to make progress. She is a TBI survivor, and she is one of millions of Americans who live with TBI and its effects.

Photo credit: Dr. Nicole Eastman

More efforts are needed to improve the overall quality of life for persons living with TBI as well as prevent TBI.

CDC participated in Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill on March 18, 2015. The theme this year was "Finding a 'New Normal': Post-Injury Supports and Services That Make a Difference." This theme fits well with the release of our Report to Congress, Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Epidemiology and Rehabilitation, which describes how many people are affected by TBI, how their lives are impacted, and what is known about the effectiveness of TBI rehabilitation. CDC is working to better understand the long-term health effects of TBI, and the Report to Congress highlights the benefits of post-injury supports and services. These rehabilitation interventions can help those living with TBI by improving their ability to do daily tasks independently, engage with friends and family, and participate in their community.

As described in the Report, filling critical research gaps, increasing access to care, and improving the effectiveness of rehabilitation services can help lead the way to improve the overall quality of life for people, like Nicole, who are living with TBI, as well as their loved ones.

If you or a loved one has experienced a TBI, you can learn more about TBI recovery:
• Contact your local Brain Injury Association or Brain Injury Alliance to learn about support programs in your area.
• Read more about Dr. Nicole Eastman's story and other survivor stories.
• Share your story and learn more about TBI at:

In recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month, spread the word about ways to prevent TBI to help safeguard the health of all Americans.

CDC Injury Center encourages you to spread the word (send a Tweet, post on Facebook, or just talk with family and friends) about ways to prevent TBI.

You can help keep yourself and loved ones safe by:
• Using the right car seat or booster seat for your child's age, height, and weight.
• Wearing a seat belt each and every time you ride in a car.
• Taking steps to prevent falls--especially among young children and older adults.
• Wearing the right helmet, that fits well, during sports and recreation activities.

CDC works every day with researchers, states, and communities to prevent TBI. We do this by capturing information about who is most at risk, identifying better ways to diagnose and manage this injury, and developing and promoting effective prevention and health education programs.