Traumatic brain injury: 'The person you were dies in the ER'

EUGENE, Ore. - A car ran a red light in December 1986 and hit Trudy Maloney on her bike.

She didn't get back on her feet for 3 years.

It was another 3 years before she had recovered enough to enroll in college.

She earned a degree in psychology and went to work helping people with brain injuries.

"I always had a plan to work with survivors of traumatic brain injuries," she said, "because I decided that I knew something about it."

Oregon has more than 155,000 people living with a brain injury, thee result of car vs. bike or pedestrian accidents, industrial accidents or farm accidents.

"The person you were dies in the emergency room or dies before they get you," Maloney said. "You're no longer the same person; you become a different person."

Maloney recently retired after 17 years with ShelterCare's Uhlhorn program in Eugene.

The program helps low-income people with brain injuries with the skills and help to live independently.

"A very rewarding life," she said. "I didn't realize how precious it is to be alive until I almost lost it."