Second chances after brain injury
Glenn Ford keeps a list of famous people who have found success after a brain injury — here is a short sampling of his list.
“Star Wars” creator, writer and director George Lucas had a brain injury along with several other life-threatening injuries after a car accident in 1962.
Actress Victoria Principal’s 1969 car crash caused a brain injury and memory loss so severe that she had to retake her first year of college classes.
Director, comedian and author Thomas Peter Shadyac was diagnosed with a brain injury after a series of sports injuries. Shadyac went on to become a philanthropist, giving away his fortune to many charities and lives quietly in a small trailer as a writer and documentarian.
In 1979, actress Della Reese suffered from a near-fatal brain aneurysm and massive hemorrhagic stroke while performing on the “Tonight Show.”
Jazz singer Melody Gardot was struck by a car while riding her bike in 2003. Gardot continues to perform in the U.S. and U.K., she also works with universities around the world in the study of brain injuries.
After fracturing his skull in a 2000 ice-skating accident, Olympic figure skater Dick Button became the national spokesman for the Brain Injury Association of America.
Entertainer Dick Clark’s 2004 stroke caused speech impairment and an extreme loss of energy.
NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury after crashing on the Michigan International Speedway in 1997. Irvan retired from NASCAR and founded Race2Safety, a nonprofit organization which educates the public on brain injuries.
Actor Gary Busey was riding his motorcycle without a helmet in 1988 when the bike slide on a patch of gravel, throwing Busey over the handlebars and into the curb. He has since continued working regularly as an actor and is a vocal advocate for brain injury treatment and prevention.
Actress Sharon Stone suffered from a brain bleed in 2001, cause by a rare occurrence where the artery at the base of the skull is torn. Stone has continued to work steadily since her recovery.
While filming the 2005 thriller “Syriana”, George Clooney tore his dura — the membrane around the brain and spine that protects spinal fluid. He continues acting, but suffers from severe headaches and needs special ongoing treatments to plug the holes in the dura.