Winston-Salem woman uses own experiences to raise awareness of traumatic brain injury

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Kelly Bouldin Darmofal poses for a portrait in her home Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. She has written a book about her recovery after traumatic brain injury.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Kelly Bouldin Darmofal never imagined that a single moment could rob her of everything — her past, her present and her future. Until Sept. 17, 1992, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

It was a mere five days after her 15th birthday and Kelly Bouldin — as the freshman at Reynolds High School was known then — was headed to Burger King for a celebratory chicken sandwich after cheerleading at her first high school football game.

While on a winding road, the driver turned his head away for just a moment. The car crumpled against a telephone pole, propelling Darmofal headfirst into the dashboard — despite the hug of her seatbelt — and causing a severe closed-head brain injury. The driver of the car and one other passenger sustained only minor injuries.

After weeks in a medically induced coma, Darmofal became one of the 5.3 million survivors who would suffer a disability or other consequences of a traumatic brain injury.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a blow to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Injuries can range from mild — in which a brief change in consciousness occurs — to severe, such as Darmofal’s injury, where an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia is experienced.

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal