When 28-year-old Michael Black was thrown from his SUV in a roll-over accident, his family thought he would live in a permanent vegetative state. Like so many families in California and across the country, Black's relatives were unsure whether he would recover from his catastrophic brain injuries.
"A lot of the information was devastating to us," Black's mother said. "We almost had no hope."
Fortunately, Black came out of his coma, overcame infection and then founded an online community called TryMunity to help support other families in the same situation. TryMunity is now one of many new communities that are helping families navigate the challenges of traumatic brain injury. Prior to TryMunity's founding, there were few forums for families to support one another and ask questions about this particularly devastating type of injury.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1.7 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries every year. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of TBI, although brain injuries can also be sustained in near-drownings, falls, birth accidents and accidents that involve head trauma or airway obstruction.
Many people have used Black's TryMunity community to find support and guidance regarding brain injuries. Black recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the site by reflecting on his rehabilitation progress. Black continues to make strides toward independence, but still has memory and motor skill issues. His family navigates his situation with support from friends and their new online community.
"You can talk to people who have survived and are going through the same problems you have," Black said. "And it helps you out real good to know there are people going through the same things you are."