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Jamie MoCrazy: Take a Second to Look at the View

“Take a second to look at the view”

A metaphor that would prove to be a critical perspective for former professional skier, Jamie MoCrazy. 

In 2015, Jamie suffered an accident while skiing that put her into a natural coma, with her brain bleeding in eight spots and paralysis of her right side. On her way to the hospital, the doctors announced her time of death, saying that she had a 0 percent chance of survival.

Ten days after the accident, Jamie woke up from the coma but with extensive physical and brain injuries. She experienced a loss of memory, motor skills, and while needing to relearn how to walk, also was relearning how to talk and eat. 

Her recovery was a long and rigorous process, but during the process, Jamie’s mom, Grace, developed a tool for intentional language that would help alter Jamie’s perspective on recovery. During the process, Jamie would need to take breaks, especially as she was rebuilding her strength and cognitive abilities. Instead of saying she needed a break, she would say ‘Let’s stop and look at the view’. 

And that intentional change in word choice taught Jamie to stop and take in her surroundings at unconventional times throughout her recovery journey, which led her to see and recognize some amazing views (or milestones) that she would not have noticed if she hadn’t stopped to admire the “view”. 

That metaphor helped Jamie through her recovery, physically, allowing her to not rush her physical recovery, but also mentally, providing her the perspective to accept the process. 

“Something about my physical recovery was that it was all visible. People could see when I relearned how to ride a bike, when I walked, or when I went skiing. I got a lot of attention and praise for those visible physical recoveries,” she said. “The emotional recoveries were invisible, so nobody else knew that I was climbing an alternative peak when I was going through my recovery process.”

Having previously recovered from ACL surgery and other physical injuries, the concept of setting attainable physical goals for recovery wasn't new to her. However, the psychological impacts of her traumatic brain injury (TBI) would prove to be a much more difficult obstacle for her. 

“Having so much emotional instability, getting triggered, and just feeling out of control and not knowing why. Not being able to articulate the words that I wanted to be pronouncing and feeling like I was speaking a foreign language, even though it was my native language of English, all of that stuff is invisible. The invisible challenges were way harder for me,” said Jamie. 

To cope with her emotions throughout the recovery process, with the guidance of her family, Jamie utilized meditation and yoga. As her mom studied early childhood brain development, Grace knew being able to control the brain by intentionally settling it down and stimulating it was key. With any form of brain injury, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, resulting in a ‘fight or flight” response. Being able to calm the mind down through yoga and meditation was crucial for both Jamie’s emotional and physical recovery. 

“Yoga helped to combine my physical and mental recovery,” said Jamie. “We would do simplified five minute yoga sessions and three minutes of Shavasana (a resting and restorative pose, typically used at the end of a yoga session) to help calm my mind. Working to have my mind control my body movements to work through the yoga session helped to work through my physical and cognitive recovery.”

Jamie’s TBI experience inspired her family to take action, to help other TBI survivors and caregivers. Even before Jamie was officially released from the hospital, her sister, Jeanee, and mother had already begun working on education methods to assist other families dealing with TBI.

“My mom worked in collaboration with my doctor to do things like add fish oil to my feeding tube, which is a scientifically proven method to increase the rehabilitation of brain injury and increase your brain's function,” she said . “My mom was aware of this because of her background, but that information is not accessible for many people.”

MoCrazy Strong started as a question and answer platform, where Grace would provide families with TBI information and would eventually grow into what it is now, a national 501(c)3 that provides more opportunities for brain injury survivors and family caregivers. Their mission is achieved through education and research. Grace is a PhD candidate in Mind and Body Medicine, with a focus on TBI to bring the science behind Jamie’s recovery to other individuals the organization works with. 

The organization also does bipartisan policy work, especially in the state of Utah but also on a federal level. In March, MoCrazy Strong administration had 14 meetings with the House and Senate representatives on the reauthorization of the TBI Act, which is in the process of being reauthorized, and is the only form of federal funding that is geared towards traumatic brain injury. 

Jamie and her family hope the MoCrazy Strong Foundation, and their advocacy work can eliminate the stigmas associated with TBI. 

“The stigma tied to having a brain injury is so big that many individuals who have a stereotypically successful recovery, do not stay connected to brain injury and people don't know that they had a brain injury,” said Jamie. “Many individuals don’t disclose their injury because they're terrified that people will assume that because they had a brain injury, especially a critical brain injury that they will perform at a lesser level and they won't be able to execute so highly.”

And with eliminating the stigma and increasing awareness, the MoCrazy family hopes to increase preventive measures for TBIs such as wearing helmets, seatbelts, and taking action in the acute stages of brain injuries instead of prolonging recovery until more critical brain injuries. 

“The biggest advice I would give to fellow TBI survivors, you can climb an alternative peak. You can create a life you love to be living and do things that make you happy,” she said. “Any injury, TBI related or not, is traumatic and hard, especially when it takes your sport away. But you can always climb an alternative peak, just be open to looking at the opportunities in your current life and how you can take those opportunities to climb the alternative peak.”

Jamie’s story reminds us all to take a second to look at the view. 



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