Retired Navy Commander Shares Her Story of Brain Injury

Bernadette Semple was on her way to a mission when someone on her flight hit her hard on the temple. It wasn't until months later that she realized the extent of her symptoms.

I was on a flight going on a mission, [Bernadette Semple, retired Navy Commander] and this passenger, an unidentified passenger, got out of control and hit me in the temple. And once I got to see the doctor there, they diagnosed me as having a concussion and post concussive syndrome. And so I think it just progressively-- my memory progressively got worse. And I think at that time people knew that something was wrong, and so eventually in September they sent me to Germany, Landstuhl, for this checkup. And when I got to Landstuhl, they put me through some basic TBI tests and told me that I had a traumatic brain injury. I had no idea the severity of my injury, and of course, I said, suck it up, I want to go back to my job, and she said, okay. I don't know how well I did my job, but the things I was able to do, I knew I wasn't able to do anymore. I finished my tour, and then in February we deployed here back to the United States. The doctor said that she wanted me to go to the Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Bethesda when I deployed back, so when I got back, I think we got back here on the 8th of February, 11th of February, somewhere like that, and then I reported on the 27th of February to the TBI Center at Bethesda and was there for like 2 years.
Posted on BrainLine October 5, 2012.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Ashley Gilleland, and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine.