BI’s, or Brain Injuries, aren’t always the ‘hot topic’ conversation around the dinner table. But for one family, it is. Did you know that about 3.5 million BI’s occur each year in the U.S., with 2.8 million being traumatic BI’s or TBI’s? Dane Buschling never being thought twice about being apart of that stat. Brain Buddies is here to share his inspiring story in hopes of not only spreading awareness about BI’s, but also inspiring others to celebrate their accomplishments, no matter how big or small.

Here is his story:

I had just graduated from law school and passed the Missouri bar a year before my accident. I also obtained an MBA while I was getting my law degree. I was working professionally, starting my career and preparing to become engaged when I stepped outside a restaurant to take a phone call. No one knows what happened after that. A passerby found me unconscious on the sidewalk and called an ambulance.

I was immediately taken into surgery, before which my parents were told that I likely would not survive. I had a massive brain bleed. I spent three weeks in a coma at BJC in St. Louis, and then three more weeks awakening from my coma at an LTAC (long-term acute care) hospital in Denver. The next 5 months of my life involved rehab at a hospital in Denver, where I continued outpatient rehab for another seven months, this hospital is Craig Hospital. Since April of 2016 I’ve been in some sort of rehab to continue working towards my goals.

After years of hard work and rehab, I realized BIs or TBIs are more common than people like to talk about. I searched for people who had similar stories to mine, and tried to find the right community to support each other. My parents and I saw a need for a more specific group aimed at young adults who are trying to rebuild their lives after a traumatic or acquired brain injury.

With this thought, my parents and I started the organization Brain Buddies. It began as a grassroot organization in our living room in 2018 where we used networking and referrals to build our membership. We were happily pleased to see it take off and grow from there.

A brain injury can be very isolating, as one’s life is stalled while they’re in rehab trying to regain functions. Even after this, it’s wonderful going out with old friends, but sometimes they don’t understand my challenges. Not only is this group full of wonderful people to be around, but everyone understands every members’ challenges. We accept, move on, and have a wonderful time being together. We have a diversity of socials and get-togethers to accommodate a very diverse group with a wide range of activities.

Brain injuries are often called the hidden epidemic. So often, there are no outward signs of a brain injury even though a person may still struggle with their environment, or living day to day. A brain injury does not mean the end of a productive life, which is the main goal behind Brain Buddies! Sharing stories, successes and awareness of TBIs and ABIs are so important. One can accomplish many things after surviving a brain injury. It just takes a lot of work and a lot of support, and I think Brain Buddies is a great example of this.

In 2020, Dane and his family received the Impact Award from Craig Hospital This award, they believe, belongs to the Brain Buddies members and their families. The award recognizes the perseverance and dedication of a graduate from Craig Hospital who has overcome their injury and used their experience to better others.