At the end of 2009, Kevin Pearce was a halfpipe wunderkind whom many predicted would win Olympic gold in Vancouver. However, he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in a nasty accident that ended his pro career and nearly cost him his life. The acclaimed 2013 documentary The Crash Reel told the story of his painful and ongoing recovery, and shined a spotlight on the consequences of TBIs. These days Kevin – along with brother Adam, other members of the Pearce family, and a dedicated team – runs LoveYourBrain, an organisation that aims to encourage people to properly care for their grey matter.
For me, LoveYourBrain is more than just an organisation, movement or foundation – it is a way of life. LoveYourBrain is the holistic approach to brain health – for those like me who have been affected by brain injury, as well as for those who haven’t. It’s about being conscious of every aspect when making choices relating to our brains: nourishing them with healthy food, stimulating them through thoughtful exercise and challenges, and giving them some much needed rest through meditation, mindfulness, and sleep. Everything I do is my own personal embodiment of LoveYourBrain – from my speaking engagements that challenge me intellectually, to practicing yoga and growing my own fruits and vegetables to use in meals I cook at home. It’s about recognising that the brain is the most important organ we have, and we have to make good decisions to support it so that it can support us back.
Recovering from a brain injury is such an extensive process. I have been so lucky to have had love and support, and have worked so damn hard to get to where I am now. I continue to see progress every single day; I just finished my second round of eye exercises, which I have to do three times daily for about 30 minutes at a time. Right now, I’m working hardest on retraining my brain to allow my eyes to see single, as I have had so much trouble with double vision. I’m constantly working to improve my memory as well.
I don’t know if LoveYourBrain would be where it is today without The Crash Reel. It has given us an incredible platform to share my story with the world in a way that is relatable for individuals who have never been touched by brain injury. While I believe that we would be doing great work in the same space without the film, it has enabled us to reach wider audiences around the world and create more conversations around the issues of brain health.
I still love snowboarding so much. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact I’m no longer a professional snowboarder, and that it's no longer my main focus. However, I just recently went to Japan with Jack Mitrani, Danny Davis, Eric Jackson and Terje Haakonsen. It was hands down the most amazing trip I have been on in the five years since my accident. While I don’t follow events like the X Games as closely as I used to, I still keep an eye on what’s going on.
It’s about recognising that the brain is the most important organ we have, and we have to make good decisions to support it so that it can support us back.
I stand 100% behind wearing a helmet, since without mine I wouldn’t have survived my accident. It’s kind of crazy to still see kids out there without helmets on. For me, I never thought about it all that much; I always just wore mine because I knew it was the smart thing to do. It’s so easy to strap a helmet on, and when you truly understand the consequences of damaging your brain, you wouldn't even think twice about trying to protect it. I do think that they’re catching on though, and that it’s becoming much more normal.
You can support LoveYourBrain by following us on social media, signing up for our newsletters, and sharing the information with your friends and family. We have some amazing fundraising support, and every cent counts to support the work we do, including the research and development of our Yoga program. However, the most important thing that anyone can do is to talk about brain injury, and to make smart choices to lead brain-healthy lifestyles. In doing so, you can promote and embody the LoveYourBrain message in your daily lives.