Snowboarder’s Return Marks the Cost of Sports Traumatic Brain Injuries

Kevin Pierce’s long journey back to snowboarding is an object lesson for everyone here in Oregon concerned about traumatic brain injuries in sports. Once one of the world’s top riders and a likely member of the 2010 US Olympic team, the snowboarding star was severely injured “when he fell and hit his head on the icy wall” of a halfpipe where he was training.

A few weeks short of the second anniversary of that accident, Pierce got back on a snowboard, last week according to the New York Times. The paper reports that his road to recovery has been long and slow. That first run, at a ski resort in Colorado, was a slow cruise down an easy slope: “No tricks. No big air,” the newspaper reported.

Even now, Pierce’s life remains marked by “an unsteady walk, blurry vision and a diminished memory.”
And this, remember, is the portrait of an elite athlete coping with the after-effects of a traumatic brain injury. For almost anyone else it is safe to say that the road to recovery could well be longer and more difficult.

Pierce’s story is also a reminder to the rest of us that even the most talented athletes can suffer horrendous injuries – a fact that, in turn, places a special burden on equipment manufacturers and those who run athletic facilities: to offer the safest gear and the safest environment possible. From an Oregon product liability attorney’s perspective, it is unfortunate to ever see a person suffer because of someone else’s negligence. Particularly when the injury involves a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury. The law can be an important force in helping ensure that justice is done after tragedy strikes, but any Portland brain injury lawyer will affirm that it is better when things function smoothly in the first place, ensuring that lawyers and courts need not get involved.

New York Times: Pearce to ride for first time since 2009 accident