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What surviving a traumatic brain injury looks like

Over two years, Balaster, 30, had to learn how to write, speak, and walk all over again. Here’s his journey.


Fernando Alfonso III


They were talking about the benefits of sex while drowning when their van pulled up outside a dilapidated building in Brooklyn. 

“With beers in our hands, and smokes dangling between our lips, we stomped upwards towards the rooftop,” blogged Cavin Balaster, a musician. “We knew and craved the incredible atmosphere of a rooftop party, with our kind of people, on a summer night in New York City.”

The rooftop was a picturesque party scene featuring a water tower jutting up into the night sky. That’s where Balaster wanted to be and where, on this day, May 8, 2011, his life would change. He climbed up.

Somehow—he doesn’t recall exactly—while Balaster was admiring the view on top of the water tower, he fell and hit the front of his head on some steel scaffolding, then the back of his head on the concrete rooftop floor.

He suffered a diffuse axonal injury, which is when the nerves in a person’s brain are damaged. He spent 12 days in a coma. Over the next two years, Balaster, 30, had to learn how to write, speak, and walk all over again. 

Today Balaster is back playing music and working to educate people about brain health and spread awareness about traumatic brain Injuries. 

Thursday afternoon Balaster shared his journey toward recovery on Reddit through a 25-image slideshow featuring images of him in the hospital and at physical therapy.

“I am in awe of your determination and strength,” pajama-sloth commented. “Seriously, when seeing all you were up against, it would have been easy to fall into despair, or not have the will to fight.”

Balaster has also started a Kickstarter project to raise money for his book, Lights, Coma, Action. He has raised $17,685 toward his $15,000 goal, with 26 days to go. 


Three years ago, Balaster was starting a business and living in NYC. After falling from the water tower in May 2011, Balaster was rushed to the hospital and placed in the intensive care unit.


When Balaster woke from his coma, he had no recollection of what happened.


He had lost most of his motor functions.


As he learned how to write and type again, Balaster began telling his story on WordPress.


Today Balaster is back playing music and raising awareness about traumatic brain injuries.

Photos via Cavin Balaster

The Daily Dot