American skier lauds new technique at Vancouver hospital for brain recovery

Skier Jamie Crane-Mauzy injured her brain while competing in Whistler. Photo by The Canadian Press

For weeks after professional skier Jamie Crane-Mauzy injured her brain while competing in Whistler, B.C., the 23-year-old says she experienced the world like the protagonist in the movie "50 First Dates."

She could talk and interact, but would have no idea what she had done the previous day. On one occasion, she performed a fully choreographed dance to a Taylor Swift song in a cafeteria.

Crane-Mauzy said her behaviour was a sign of recovery, and she is attributing her positive prognosis to a newly implemented technique at Vancouver General Hospital.

"I was lucky, my personality didn't change," she said with a huge smile at a news conference on Tuesday.

"I get to travel around the world. I get to go skiing again. I get to live tomorrow."

Crane-Mauzy was choppered off the mountain and hospitalized in Canada for eight days in April 2015 after crashing during a double backflip at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

Doctors decided she would become the first patient in British Columbia to undergo autoregulation monitoring, a technique that determines the precise oxygen and blood pressure levels in the brain.

To employ the technology, a surgeon made a small incision in her skull and inserted two wires.

Confirming the doctor's suspicion, one wire measured a critically low oxygen level. Software was then used to analyze the data in conjunction with information from the other wire about her blood pressure. Crane-Mauzy was given medicine to help her heart pump hard enough to send more oxygen to her brain.

The problem resolved within hours.

"Traditionally, what we've done ... is we've treated people in a one-size-fits-all approach," said Dr. Mypinder Sekhon. "But now with the ability to identify single blood pressures, it allows us to individualize care."

He was one of two critical care doctors from Vancouver General Hospital who studied the technique at Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where it was pioneered, and introduced it to B.C.

Dr. Donald Griesdale, the other doctor, said it was coincidental that Crane-Mauzy was treated first. He said another 36 patients underwent autoregulation monitoring over the following year and 60 per cent of those had favourable outcomes.

There is only about a 37 per cent success rate with traditional treatment, he said.

The technology can help patients leave the intensive care unit sooner and give them a better chance at recovering to the point of living independently, he added.

Crane-Mauzy, who lives with her sister and mother in Utah, said she had to relearn to walk, talk and "absolutely everything" else. But today she no longer experiences headaches or emotional symptoms.

Before her accident she was ranked number two overall on the world tour for slopestyle and halfpipe skiing, but doesn't expect to compete again.

The young woman said she has taught herself some basic tricks and is hoping to make motivational ski videos. She is also training for a potential career in public speaking and planning to start a non-profit organization that supports the families of young people who suffer traumatic brain injuries far from home.

 

Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.