Ride of his life: Recovered from brain injury, Christensen cycling to raise awareness
A few months into his recovery, Jerry Christensen realized what he wanted to do for a living.
Christensen was recovering from a near-fatal mountain bike accident in August 1998 that left him paralyzed on his entire left side. He was told he would never ride a bicycle again, but after 10 years of rehabilitation, he is not only riding again, he is riding to raise money for brain injury research.
The 27-year-old native of Rock Springs, Wyo., stopped in Grand Junction Tuesday night in the midst of his 2010 Recovery is Now tour that will take him across the country.
People can donate money for the Brain Shift Foundation through Christensen’s website, http://www.brainguyjerry.com.
Christensen, who was 15 at the time of the accident, crashed on the first lap of a mountain bike race, cracked open his helmet and slid 140 feet, sustaining a brain injury.
“I waved at the paramedics on my left and that’s the last thing I remember,” he said. “My dad was on the lake and my mom was in Maui, so the judge had to approve my flight out of state (to the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City).”
The electrical time sequence measurement showed a flatline twice on the flight, he said. He was in a coma for five days and lost 25 pounds.
“The doctor said I’d never go to college or work longer than six weeks,” Christensen said. “I couldn’t walk in a straight line, I couldn’t add above 10 and I couldn’t read above a second-grade level.”
Physically, Christensen recovered pretty quick, but it took longer to regain his mental acuity.
Tutors came to his parents’ house to help him learn arithmetic, reading and science. His memory and mental skills returned and he was back to his advanced school level by January 1999.
Christensen developed a recovery meditation method to help him get out of his coma and redevelop his mental and neurological skills.
The recovery mediation process is being marketed by Brain Shift Technologies with the help of Christensen. For more on the process, go to http://www.brainshifttechnologies.com.
Christensen is still neurologically disabled, but has fully recovered from his injuries, he said.
“My speech patterns are back to normal, my intellect is extremely fast and my thought process is rapid,” Christensen said. “There is nothing that presents what is considered a permanent severe disability.”
He not only finished high school, he went to college and got a sociology degree in 2005 from UNC in Greeley.
Christensen recently submitted the manuscript to a book, “No Brainer: A path to the perfect life,” to a publisher.
He decided to go on a bike tour to raise money for the foundation after his engagement broke off.
It started as a 42-mile ride and became a goal to ride across the country, but he insisted the ride be funded by donation dollars.
“I didn’t want people to say ‘Jerry did that because he’s got money or connections,’ ” Christensen said. “I want people to say Jerry did that because I can do it. I took action. I started doing. Sitting back at home and complaining doesn’t do anything.
“I started on my GT mountain bike from sixth grade. I rode 1,700 miles on that mountain bike, all the way up to Vancouver and down to Fort Bragg (Calif.).”
A stranger he bumped into in California traded his 1983 vintage Raleigh bicycle to Christensen for his GT mountain bike.
He received four inner tubes Tuesday from Ruby Canyon Bicycles.
Christensen plans on riding to Paonia today and will continue to Denver and Chicago before winter. Then, he plans on flying to Australia and bicycling there through the winter before returning to the States and biking through the end of next year.
Christensen is looking for a sponsor for the international flight.