While training for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Kevin Pearce sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that put an end to his professional snowboarding career but it launched him on a new mission.

During his lengthy recovery period, he noticed that many people with similar afflictions were not getting the ongoing help they needed. “I had just gone through it myself and saw a huge need for a community to be built,” Pearce says. That’s why he started the Love Your Brain foundation. It’s an outreach organization that takes a positive approach to brain injury prevention and healing for those who’ve experienced a TBI.

“People need to love their brain,” says Pearce’s brother Adam, the foundation’s co-founder. “They need to cultivate a relationship with it. Until you do, you can’t really love it and understand how important and fragile it is.”

One way they help foster this connection is through yoga. Love Your Brain is preparing to launch yoga classes for TBI survivors in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.
We spoke with Kevin to learn more about his lifestyle has changed since his injury.

Mediaplanet: What is one of the biggest challenges of experiencing a TBI?

Kevin Pearce: What’s most difficult is that it’s not one person going through the experience. Everyone the injured person is related to or is friends with is affected. Anytime I had a broken bone, it never affected Adam. He never had to do anything for me. It’s a much different result when the brain is injured.

MP: How has your passion for snowboarding changed for you since your injury?

KP: It’s more black and white now. Before it was about doing the biggest and baddest tricks. Now it’s simple and straightforward. I’m just able to have fun and enjoy myself and I’m no longer worrying about pushing myself to the next level.

MP: Love Your Brain focuses on yoga as an empowerment tool. How did it help you?

KP: I did all the standard TBI therapies but none of them were like yoga. When I do yoga, I have more awareness and I focus on one breath at a time. It’s incredibly healing. I didn’t do yoga before my injury, but I think I was introduced to it at the perfect time.

MP: What advice do you have for those recovering and dealing with a brain injury?

KP: There are positive ways and negative ways to deal with it. You need to prepare to deal with the fact that a traumatic brain injury brings lifelong change.