Pirate Press recently sat down with Kerry McCann '09/M.P.A. '11 to
discuss her work to educate the public about traumatic brain injuries. A
survivor of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) herself, McCann volunteers
with a number of organizations that seek to bring attention to this
serious, and often misunderstood, medical issue.
While at home, just two months after starting her college classes,
McCann was the victim of a gunshot wound. A 9mm bullet had ripped
through her right frontal, parietal and occipital lobes of her brain.
Her life had been changed forever.
How old were you when you suffered your traumatic brain injury?
I was 18. It was 20 years ago. I was working and going to school.
How has your healing process been?
I recovered with only a fraction or the long-term effects that the
doctors originally thought I would have. I still suffer from hemi
paresis, which limits my use of my left side.
It’s obvious to see why you're passionate about the issue of
traumatic brain injuries. Can you share why you think it's important for
the public to receive more education about them?
First of all, people do not understand how many people suffer brain
injuries every year. It's more than you can even imagine. Also, most
people don't realize what's involved in the treatment of a TBI.
Most people don't understand how delicate our heads really are. For
years we would see people suffer brain injuries that went untreated.
These people have suffered real long-term consequences.
We need to teach people how to protect themselves. We also need more
research into how to correct the subsequent problems associated with
brain injuries. There are just so many.
So how are you personally trying to make a difference?
I've been active as a volunteer with a number of groups since about a
year after I suffered my TBI. The traumatic Brain Injury Fund and the
Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey are two groups that I've worked
One experience that taught me a lot was working with Veterans at the
V.A. Hospital in East Orange as an internship. I spent time working with
all of them and helping them deal with the injuries that they had
suffered. It was a great experience.
I try to stay very active. I also speak about my experiences to try
to motivate others and share my philosophy that there are no
limitations. I don't believe in limitations.
What's your ultimate goal?
My dream is to start a major nonprofit organization that focuses on
education and research, also on support for those affected. There is so
much work to be done and there is no major, centralized organization
doing it. We need to talk to people about raising money for this cause,
we need to talk to children about helmet safety and do a better job
educating adults. There is so much that we could be doing.
After hearing your story, other alumni may be moved to support your efforts. How can they do that?
I try to raise money in small ways. Everything helps. On September
28, 2013 I'll be participating in the Brain Injury Alliance of New
Jersey's Walk for Thought. My fellow Pirates can sponsor me or join the
walk and participate themselves. If that's not something that interests
them, they can always make a direct donation to NJBIA. Every bit helps.
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