Every year, millions of people experience brain injuries. Some of these injuries are strokes, others are traumatic brain injuries (for example, from a car or bicycle accident) and still others come from diseases such as cancer. The Pentagon estimates that up to 360,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have brain injuries.
In 2005, soon after he returned home from a year-long stay in the hospital, Jason’s family (his daughter, wife and father) take him for a walk in the woods.
Yet the brain — its construction, its mechanisms, its ability to heal — remains largely a mystery. Fortunately, modern medicine is changing its approach to brain injury. In the past, doctors viewed brain injuries as fixed, final and hopeless. New research, technology and treatments are revealing the brain to be remarkably resilient and adaptable — what neurologists term “plastic.”
No one plans for a stroke. It comes out of the blue. In Jason’s case, he was playing guitar onstage in New York when a blood vessel in his head ruptured. Like many people in similar situations, we found ourselves enrolled in a crash course on neuroanatomy, neurosurgery, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy — not to mention health insurance management. We might have accepted the doctors’ opinions that Jason would have poor neurological functioning forever; we might have followed their advice to put him in a nursing home. Instead, we stayed with Jason day and night and caught enough glimpses of his personality — his humor, his taste, his intelligence — to know that the man we loved was alive inside. We vowed to do everything in our power to help him. Every day, Jason progressed in tiny but significant steps toward a full recovery. Not only his medical team and his family, but also his friends and colleagues in the New York and Boston music scenes helped Jason return to living, working and playing. His success was never a sure thing. But in order for it to happen, Jason had to be given a chance.
During this ordeal, we often talked about ways to share our crazy, improbable story. Once Jason was back on his feet, the idea of a documentary came up. Jason and Monica knew Eric Metzgar from the New York music world. Not only was Eric a smart and talented filmmaker, but he was also a friend. The project came together as easily as that.
We have traveled to numerous film festivals with Life.Support.Music., and the response has been overwhelming. So many people have suffered brain injuries or know someone who has. So many people meet resistance from the medical community. So many people have defied expectations and recovered from devastating injuries. We hope that Life.Support.Music. inspires people who are facing brain injuries. We hope it informs the medical community. We hope it helps people consider what is possible.
Monica, Lynn, Carol and Marjorie