BY PAMELA FAYERMAN

In 2015, Jamie MoCrazy (formerly Crane-Mauzy before she changed her last name) was an international freestyle skiing sensation.

Then, during a horrific crash at a major competition at Whistler, her path in life would instantly change.

After being airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital, intensive care physicians Donald Griesdale and Mypinder Sekhon determined she was a suitable first patient for a new brain bolt technique that involves drilling a hole into the comatose patient’s skull to take real-time measurements of neurological functioning so that medications and other interventions can be continually tailored to their conditions.

She was the first patient in North America to have intracranial brain monitoring. Since MoCrazy’s case, it’s been used at least 150 times at Vancouver’s biggest hospital. Read my Vancouver Sun/Postmedia story about her accident, treatment and recovery here. 

You can also read more about it here.

Jamie in the ICU at Vancouver General Hospital after her Whistler accident in April 2015. The Utah competitor suffered a traumatic brain injury during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

On the seventh anniversary of her skiing accident, Jamie got engaged. Her wedding will take place in Whistler next month. And even though the mountaintop location was the scene of her career-altering accident, she now regards it as a place and event that propelled her to find more strength, stability, courage and resistance than she ever imagined she’d have to muster.

“I had the choice to turn my accident into my biggest tragedy or my biggest triumph,” she says.

Jamie’s non-profit organization is called McCrazy Strong. It exists to raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries.

I asked Jamie, a motivational speaker, to submit a guest post about her life’s mission.

You can read it below.

 

GUEST POST BY JAMIE MOCRAZY

My traumatic brain injury (TBI) turned out to be one of the luckiest events in my life.

It occurred on my second competition run in slopestyle skiing at World Tour Finals, during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler, B.C.

As an ambitious young lady, I knew that sitting in fourth place, and off the podium, just wouldn’t cut it. Also, two years prior, I had become the first woman in the world to double flip in a competition run at X-Games. I upgraded my off-axis backflip to an off-axis double backflip and upon landing I caught my edge and whipped my head into the snow, resulting in the traumatic injury.

My sister, Jeanee, was watching my run because she was in Whistler competing in her first World Tour Finals competition. She saw my takeoff but couldn’t see my landing. She didn’t see me hit the next jump but moments later, she heard the radio crackle with this ominous message: “We need all hands on deck.”

That is when my luck started; the ski patrol arrived with a ski patrol doctor. Since I was bleeding profusely, and convulsing, my eyes were rolled back, and I couldn’t breathe on my own. The doctor thought it would take a miracle for my survival.  I was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and they actually started to write my fatality report.

My next bit of luck happened when I arrived at VGH. Dr. Mypinder Sekhon and Dr. Donald Griesdale learned about an intracranial brain monitoring procedure to measure oxygen and pressure levels in the brain with a device drilled through the skull. Drs. Sekhon and Griesdale learned about this procedure in Cambridge, England one month prior to my arrival at VGH. My dad gave permission so that they could try out this new procedure for the first time in North America.

Jamie MoCrazy. Photo by Gillian Hunter.

Another aspect of my luck was the arrival at the hospital of my older sister – Amy. She’s a medical doctor and my parents consented to her being my primary care physician. Amy was present for all my rounds and she had the medical terminology and understanding to discuss procedures done on me.

My mom, Grace Mauzy, lovingly called Fruit, began leading my family caretaking team the moment she arrived in Vancouver. With a master’s in psychology and study of early childhood brain development as well as the concepts behind neuroplasticity for 30+ years at the time of my crash, my mom arrived with science backing her belief.

She asked health professionals to provide fish oil and probiotics in my feeding tube. As soon as she heard I didn’t have broken bones or torn ligaments, she started moving my body in bed which helped avoid spasticity in my muscles.

She helped me rebuild the habits that led my brain to create the pathways that allowed for a complete recovery. After daily recovery for the first two years, my recovery slowed down and I began to realize the platform I had to raise awareness on TBI healing following the principles of neuroplasticity. When my sister Amy was at medical school (Georgetown Medical School) she was taught that if an individual is over 25, they have just two years to heal after a brain injury and the deficits that endure are permanent.

That was the medical belief 15-20 years ago. We now know that is not true. I’ve met individuals who, two years post-TBI, could not talk, but now easily articulate complete sentences.

 MoCrazy Strong has become an official nonprofit that uses my trauma experience to raise awareness about TBI. We help educate family caretakers and survivors on strategies they can try to create better outcomes. I am chair-elect of the Utah Brain Injury Council. I’m also a speaker who delivers motivational and educational keynote addresses. My passions are all about changing protocols, laws, mindsets, and recovery opportunities for millions of individuals affected by TBI.

Read more about the brain bolt technique here.