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Your Healthy Family: TBI survivor to climb Pikes Peak for 16th t - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: TBI survivor to climb Pikes Peak for 16th time

On Saturday September 9th, 2017 a special group of people will hike America’s Mountain.  The Pikes Peak Challenge is described by organizers as a life changing event that creates understanding of the everyday challenges people live with who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Heather Mazzola is an acute care nurse practitioner with UCHealth Memorial.  Heather says Colorado is the 9th leading state for traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI.  Chances are unless you, or someone you know has suffered a TBI, you likely don’t know how dramatic of an effect they can have on someone’s life.

Heather says, "When you look at a person who's had a traumatic brain injury you may not know they have had one.  They may have problems remembering things or other problems that you really can't see that they have to live with every day, and their lives are changed forever because of a traumatic brain injury."

Heather knows this first hand because in the summer of 2000 she suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly claimed her life.

She clearly recalls, “I was driving home from work and my car was hit by a train.  I was in an intensive care unit, sedated.  I had a breathing tube and did not remember anything, until a month after my accident.  My family was initially told I was not going to survive, and for whatever reason I survived and fought back.  I had to learn to walk, talk, eat, everything, all over again.  It was a hard feat but I'm proud of where I am today.”

Registration for Saturday's Pikes Peak Challenge is closed but you can still donate to the Brain Injury Association of Colorado, an organization Heather is a strong advocate for.

“The Brain Injury Association of Colorado helps to give people who have had  brain injuries support, they have resources that they help people with.  They also have education programs that they're doing for schools to help kids wear helmets.  The most common cause a traumatic brain injury is a fall.  I’m so fortunate and I know people who have had traumatic brain injuries that are not doing as well as I am and that is why in my heart is really dedicated to this cause."

This will be Heather's 16th year taking part in conquering America's Mountain which like her rehab is no small feat, but it’s something she looks forward to.  She says with a grin, “Bring it on.”

In the coming months in Your Healthy Family we'll be highlighting the work at Rocky Mountain Health Care Services Brain Care here in Colorado Springs and their efforts to assist people living with the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury here in our community.

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