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Brain injury is often a traumatic and life changing experience. It can impact your family life, your mood and memory, and even your career. But once in a great while, there is a silver lining to that cloud, like what happened to a Texas attorney turned artist.
A former Texas attorney got his 15 minutes of fame last month, not because of his ability in the courtroom, but on the canvas. Patrick Fagerberg reports that after a 30-foot-tall camera boom fell on him causing a traumatic brain injury, he suddenly discovered a new talent as a painter.
Fagerberg may have chosen to skip the 2011 concert, had he known that an unpredictable accident there would change his life forever. After the camera boom fell on his head, Fagerberg was rushed to an emergency room where he had trouble putting sentences together to respond to the medical professionals’ questions. He had suffered a traumatic brain injury on his left side.
The injury impacted Fagerberg’s memory and speech pattern recognition. It put a sudden halt on to his promising career as a “hotshot attorney” who had never lost a trial. Like many brain injury survivors, Fagerberg turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with his sudden disability, and he was eventually arrested for drug use.
But then Fagerberg tried art therapy. He said:
“A little trigger went off and I became hooked. . . . It became a compulsion. I see everything sort of in composition, so everywhere I look it’s a painting.”
The sudden onset of a talent after a brain injury isn’t an entirely new concept in the medical world. “Acquired savant syndrome” is a rare effect of traumatic brain injury that can cause survivors to develop mathematical, musical, or in this case artistic ability they did not have prior to the accident.
For Fagerberg, the art provided an outlet and a new way to cope with his injury. He began painting full time for the next four years. Last month, he put on his first exhibit at Gremillion in Houston, Texas.
Brain injury affects each patient differently. Some are able to return to their everyday lives with little or no consequence. Others have to relearn everything from walking and balance to speech. Memory and emotional problems are common. But once in a while, brain injury presents a silver lining through acquired savant syndrome and gives survivors a new option for life.
David Christensen is a brain injury expert at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team specialize in helping brain injury survivors get the compensation they need to pay for their injuries and treatments. If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.