Snowboarder Kevin Pearce is in the spotlight these days raising awareness about a condition that impacts more than half of those with a traumatic brain injury like his.
It's been a long five years for Kevin Pearce, a long road to recovery and a return to his snowboard. Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury back in 2009, while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Although he is not affected, doctors say many others with traumatic brain injury symptoms are also impacted by a disorder called PseudoBulbar Affect or PBA.
"So when a person has PBA they have involuntary laughing or crying. This affects people that have a variety of neurologic conditions from TBI, to Alzheimer's disease to multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Andrew Stalker, neurologist.
Stalker and Pearce spoke with WCAX News Reporter Gina Bullard recently about their efforts to raise awareness about PBA. They say it can be socially awkward for patients, when they suddenly and unexpectedly laugh or cry, sometimes in inappropriate settings. With crying PBA can also be mistaken for depression.
Pearce says he has friends with it and he wants people to know they can get help.
"You can treat this disorder that you're having. Whatever it is you're doing, and whatever it is that you're dealing with, no matter how bummed you are how bad things seem, things can get better," said Pearce.
Medications are available, but diagnosis is key. Pearce is no longer competing professionally, but he is using his position to help others with traumatic brain injuries long after he suffered his own while training on a world stage.
A self-assessment for PseudoBulbar Affect is available online at pbainfo.org.
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