HBO Documentary Chronicles Recovery of Pro-Snowboarder and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Survivor Kevin Pearce

April 19, 2013

Kevin Pearce had been a snowboarder all his life, and reached the top rungs of the sport at a young age. Then in 2009, while training to compete against his rival Shaun White in the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics, he suffered a traumatic brain injury when he crashed at a practice in Park City, Utah. Filmmaker Lucy Walker has produced a documentary detailing Kevin's recovery and the struggles he and his family have gone through in the healing process. The film, called The Crash Reel, uses years of footage to show the excitement and appeal, as well as the high stakes, of participating in extreme-action sports. It gives an accurate portrayal of the total impact that a traumatic brain injury has on the entire family, in addition to the survivor.

Kevin says he felt compelled to do the documentary to educate young people in the sports arena and to spread awareness of TBI. "I had 8 or 9 concussions before this and I had never heard of a TBI - now we see it every day in football, extreme sports, it's everywhere," he said in an interview in January of this year.

Walker and Pearce have also teamed up to launch the "Love Your Brain Campaign", which is a social media campaign to raise awareness of TBIs, incentivize and inspire safety, and distribute information to those who are already living with TBI, to ease the process of recovery as much as possible. For more information go to loveyourbraincampaign.org.

A year or so after his accident, Kevin insisted that he would be returning to competitive snowboarding, over his family's strenuous objections. Even though he knew that in his now permanently debilitated state, just a small blow to the head could be fatal to him, he still missed the excitement and the thrill of competition. Now, however, four years later, he has accepted the fact that he won't be returning to competitive snowboarding, though he does still snowboard for relaxation and enjoyment.

The HBO documentary shows footage of many of Kevin's brutal ski and snowboard crashes over the years, then his final devastating crash resulting in the traumatic brain injury in 2009, and then documents his recovery, all the way from his stay in the neurocritical care unit of the hospital to present day. While the film is more inspiring than depressing, it does an excellent job of illustrating the huge physical toll on the body of participating in extreme action sports.


Kevin had lots of eye trouble after his accident, and at first had to wear inch thick glasses since his vision was unaligned both vertically and horizontally due to the impact of the crash. He eventually had eye surgery, which did help, but he still has vision problems to this day. He also has a lot of trouble with his memory on a daily basis, unable to remember little things such as where he put his cellphone or his wallet. He is not able to live alone, as he needs assistance with everyday tasks. But his sense of humor and his competitive nature have helped him greatly. He says he continues to work hard on his recovery with frequent therapy, and he's reminded of his injury every day.

In an interview earlier this year, Lucy Walker said "There is pressure to show the glamour of the sport and not the downside. It's definitely a concern, I think, for some of the people in the sport not to show the horror of what Kevin has been through. Kevin is not the poster boy of the sport. Kevin's injury points out the problems of the sport."

The movie premiered on January 18 of this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Look for it soon on HBO.

As a Traumatic Brain Injury attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, I am very familiar with the devastating consequences that result from a TBI. The brain injury survivor's family is affected drastically as well as the patient. Major changes are required in almost every area of life.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of someone else's negligence, call us for help. We will talk to you and review your case for free. The Tyrone Law Firm specializes in representing those who have suffered a devastating injury, such as traumatic brain injury resulting from the negligence of another. We will present your case to the jury in terms of the human story - the total impact on you and your family, and the story of what your family has lost as a direct result of the injury. It is this presentation of the client's story to the jury that compels them to bring back a verdict for significant money damages on your behalf.

Nelson Tyrone handles Brain Injury, Spine Injury and RSD/CRPS cases throughout the United States. He recently obtained the largest medical malpractice verdict in the history of Gwinnett County in a birth injury TBI case. He involves only the top medical, rehabilitation and life-care plan experts in the field. His results on behalf of clients include several of the largest settlements and verdicts on record.

You can reach us at 404-377-0017 or via email at admin@tyronelaw.com. If we can't help you, we will do our best to put you into the hands of lawyers who can.