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  • Writer's pictureSurvivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Brad Fewson

Hello, my name is Brad Fewson. I'm a 20 Year Australian Army military veteran of East Timor (two Tours OP INTERFET and Astute), US Private Contractor – U.S Marines DOD (IRAQ) Operation enduring freedom and NSW Police Tactical Operative and GD.

• 20-year Military Army Veteran (East Timor), State Police Officer (NSW), U.S Private Military Contractor (Iraq).

• Qualified Fitness Professional (PT), Coach in CrossFit (LV2), Olympic Lifting (State), Kids and many more. Former teacher in fitness for TAFE NSW.

• Director of Mil-Fit PTY LTD (Fitness Company) and Adaptive Athlete Australia (Charity: external service organisation ESO)

• Fully classed as disabled TPD 2014 from my service, diagnosed now with Chronic repetitive Brain trauma (150 + Mild to Moderate traumas).

Now neurodegenerative resulting in Idiopathic Parkinson disease (early onset), Pituitary Dysfunction, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Sleep Apnoea, Major Depression and PTSD. Also chuck in a cheeky lumbar spondylolysis L5,L4,S1.  So, on my return from America in 2015, I had great success in the determination of TBI but mostly in the identification of the affected areas on the Brain.

My timeline for trauma and accounted for over 150+ repetitive mild – moderate TBIs sustained over the last 15 or so years. From military parachuting, police force incidents, combat operations, and contact sport. The major damage has been identified by blast force trauma, 13 + IEDs (roadside bombs) involved in combat and a 100m ravine fall (moderate TBI - nil treatment). 

This then allowed me to seek and receive further treatment in specialized areas in Australia. I commenced rehabilitation over the months with various specialist and teams, all coming together.

* The South West Brain Injury Cnt in Albury - Neuropsychologist, professors and counsellors (neuro cognitive rehab and assessment - cognitive functioning).

* Endocrinologist - Hormone replacement therapy for Pituitary damage,

* Psychiatry for Major depression

* Sleep Specialist for Sleep apnoea

* Occupational therapist for home modifications * Physiotherapist - Movement rehab

* GP to tie it all in.

Over the first 6 months of 2016, my medical team worked tireless (included my awesome advocate team for DVA - Bob and Gladys) to continue rehab, learn about repetitive trauma and promote awareness. Regardless of the excellent work and controlling of some issue, I continued to deteriorate quickly with ability and action of movement. By June 2016, I had lost the ability to walk nearly independently.

I required two canes (especially on an auditory sensory perspective) and a wheel chair for long distances and full assistance in all areas of life. It was towards the end of this time that I had found a neurologist in Sydney, Professor Roy Beran, that was versed (to a certain extent) in the long terms effects of repetitive trauma.

Also at the same time, my physiotherapist (from American and well versed in TBI) was seeing massive Parkinsonism. All testing conducted put me at mid-range (stage 3/5) to severe Parkinson.

I also received communication from the Steve Tisch Brain Centre in UCLA Los Angeles. The neurologists that worked there from UCLA, were part of Muhammad Alis (Famous Boxer)          treatment for Parkinson/dementia pugilistic and they were focused on repetitive trauma and CTE in sports players and veterans. I was recommended to come over and see them for an assessment.

Due to the Parkinsonism and two days, before I flew out to Los Angeles, my neurologist tried me on Parkinson medication, and the results were amazing. Levodopa and Carbidopa, Parkinson's medications, increases the production of dopamine in the brain. I took the medication and in a space of 30minutes, I could freely move again. Jump spin and kick... It was it's, it was like I was totally back to normal.

So, I went to America with my wife and my various medications and went to UCLA. It was just a consulate but they determined Chronic TBI that has resulted in Pituitary dysfunction (Autonomic distress) and Idiopathic Parkinson. Effectively two conditions caused by the trauma but each was overlapping one another, thereby making it very difficult to identify.

So now with clear identification, medication, treatment, and rehabilitation after 2 years of major decline, I have stabilized very well. The doctors say that if we didn't fight and look for answers and accept the original decline, I would be in a nursing home by now or dead.

Whilst Parkinson is a neurodegenerative condition, it still means the quality of life with my family. It has taken a while to accept what is happening and change my focus with life but I think I have. Time and again I was getting contacted by other veterans for advice and direction, and like me, there was nil or little support, especially in regionals areas.

I need to do something, so I have teamed up with other contemporary veterans as part of the Wagga RSL sub branch and created the Contemporary Veterans Committee Wagga, and as a result, we are making changes in the services and awareness for veterans. We have support groups, TAFE NSW skill courses, fitness programs and medical services, all getting on board and we continue to grow and expand.

We are also linking external service organizations together and creating awareness for all ESO for veterans so they are aware of what support is out there. We have all the major military bases in Wagga on board and will be getting to speak to every recruit that joins the military.

My life has changed, the community, and everyone from around the world, all came together and made sure I continued the fight with TBI and awareness for others and in particular veterans over the years.

The fight with DVA and insurance companies is never ending. I have three insurance areas, DVA, United states government and private TPD insurance. All are fighting hard against it as its part of a precedent. A good example is the latest Will Smith movie "concussion". About CTE and law suits in American football.

This process has changed my life, but i am now promoting it for the veteran charity Adaptive Athlete Australia. I would love to help  change your life does not matter if have ABI, CTE, TBI,PTSD or Parkinson.. you will own it!

Feel free to contact me on information or advice with repetitive trauma, blast trauma and CTE in sport and military. Very happy to assist in any avenue or support, awareness and education!

Go research, read up and educate yourself. Find what works for you and never accept NO. Adapt and overcome!

Thank you, for letting me join this helpful Family!

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