Cape Town, South Africa (PressExposure) July 13, 2011 -- In the year 2000 he was known as Mr. Adventure Racing and stood at the front of the new Ultra Endurance Adventure Sport that was taking South Africa by storm. He was a Founding member of the Adventure Racing World Series and a Race Official at the inaugural Adventure Racing World Championships in Switzerland in 2001.
By the end of 2002, Zirk Botha had disappeared from the Adventure Racing scene. Few people knew that in December 2002, Zirk had suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury whilst setting up a route for a short course adventure race.
Whilst marking out the route late at night, his 4X4 truck got stuck in a mud hole and in the process of trying to pull it out, he was struck in the face by a metal bar. It was a miracle that he was not killed out-right, but it took 6 hours of reconstructive surgery to repair his face. It would take 8 years to repair his brain.
Zirk says that the toughest part of his 8 year recovery process was that he had no motivation and thought that he was to blame for his inability to deliver on his daily responsibilities and objectives.
There is a big misconception about Brain Trauma. People think that you must be in a coma or at least have lost consciousness to suffer a brain Trauma. This is completely wrong.
In South Africa an estimated 220 000 people will suffer a Brain Trauma annually. That is an average 602 instances per day - But because there is no way to measure the exact level of trauma, patients are discharged from hospital and sent home without having any idea of their condition. The doctors are not fully to blame as the technology for diagnosing brain trauma is horrendously expensive. MRI's and CAT Scans do not show neurological damage on a micro-scopic level and a PET Scan is beyond the economical ability of 95% of patients. Often people will suffer from Sports related Brain Trauma and will never even see a doctor or hospital.
The symptoms of Brain trauma are very similar to those of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It can lead to severe emotional mood swings, impaired cognitive abilities, alcohol and drug abuse, an inability to focus and study; and a myriad of other anti-social behaviors.
"Knowledge is power and if I had known what was happening to my brain I would've been equipped to deal with my daily challenges. I lost 8 years in the prime of my life, which could have been avoided, if only I had the knowledge."
Zirk has set a goal to educate 5 000 000 people about Brain Trauma and what they can do to cope with the consequences of a Brain Trauma on a day to day basis. He says that 5 million is a drop in the bucket, but hopefully the knowledge will get passed on.