After Marine veteran Chris Lawrence sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from an improvised explosive device (IED) detonation while on tour in Iraq, he was told he probably wouldn’t walk again. Now he’s running and boxing and has graduated from the police academy. In fact, Lawrence relies on being active to cope with his TBI symptoms.
“We are highlighting this veteran’s compelling story to show others that treatment is available and recovery from TBI is possible,” said Scott Livingston, director of education at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. “Our hope is that our nation’s heroes can connect with Lawrence—or others who have shared stories with A Head for the Future—and begin their own path to recovery.”
Following the incident in 2007, Lawrence lost part of his leg due to medical complications. He also found himself struggling with memory, sleep and irritability issues—common symptoms of TBI. Since his diagnosis, he has taken up boxing as an adaptive sports therapy. He says it’s helped improve his balance, concentration and memory, all of which are essential to his recovery.
“Boxing has been the best thing for me, because it didn’t allow me to use my disabilities as a reason to hold back,” said Lawrence. “I could say that I’m better now than I was 10 years ago. I’ve been humbled, and I’ve been strengthened at the same time.”
As a police officer, Lawrence said, “I figured I can’t go back to the Marine Corps. I am missing pieces now, but I can still serve the community, just the same.”
Lawrence also attributes the power of family to helping him continue to recover and cope with TBI.
“My daughter, Dahlia, when I’m having a bad day, she makes it better, no matter what,” Lawrence said. “My girlfriend, Michelle, she helps me identify a lot of issues that I still have. She’s helped me do things I don’t want to do that have made me better.”
Department of Defense data shows that since 2000, more than 375,000 service members have been diagnosed with a TBI—most sustained in noncombat settings. Falls, motor vehicle collisions, sports-related incidents and training accidents are the most common causes of noncombat-related brain injury among service members.
To learn more about TBI and the A Head for the Future initiative, and to find additional videos and educational resources on preventing brain injury, visit dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture and follow A Head for the Future on Twitter and Facebook.