The 15 Best Documentaries on Brain Injury

I sifted the Web to find the best documentaries on Brain Injury and TBI.

Here they are (in order). Please ping me if you know of other useful ones.

1) The Crash Reel

I know that “The Crash Reel”, a searing documentary by Lucy Walker, isn’t focused completely on brain injury.

But Walker is a master storyteller and captures Kevin Pearce’s story – his meteoric rise, tragic fall during a practice run in Park City, Utah, and the grueling road to recovery.

There’s the rivalry between Pearce and Shaun White, the X Games glory, the breathtaking footage of death-defying stunts.

And Pearce’s struggle with traumatic brain injury shows the family’s agony and support.

The big question: When, if ever, is the risk too great?

Watch it on Prime Video at . There are other streaming options including Freevee here:

2) Head Games

“Head Games: The Global Concussion Crisis,” an expanded take on the 2012 documentary “Head Games,” hits with the impact of a linebacker – and it’s aiming at more than just shock value.

Directed by Steve James, known for the acclaimed “Hoop Dreams,” this film is a deep-dive exploration into the unsettling world of sports-related brain injuries.

James doesn’t just stick to the usual suspects like football and hockey. He broadens the lens to include boxing, soccer, lacrosse, and even professional wrestling, highlighting how widespread this issue is.

Based on Christopher Nowinski’s book, also titled “Head Games,” the film does more than just narrate the crisis.

It brings in heavyweights like Nowinski himself, founder of the Sports Legacy Institute, and Dr. Robert Cantu, a professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine.

These experts, along with Dr. Ann McKee and Robert Stern, provide a chillingly clear picture of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and its implications.

But “Head Games” isn’t just a parade of experts. It’s the personal stories, the interviews with athletes, their families, and journalists that drive the message home.

What stands out is the film’s additional focus on chronic traumatic brain injury in female sports ( a much-needed spotlight in an often male-dominated discussion).

In true Steve James fashion, the film is more than just an expose; it’s a call to action.

It challenges viewers to rethink their relationship with contact sports and the price of glory.

It’s a critical conversation about the safety, ethics, and future of sports.

Watch Head Games for free on YouTube at

It’s also on Fubo, Hoopla, PlutoTV and others (see for streaming details.

3) Going the Distance: Journeys of Recovery

In “Going the Distance: Journeys of Recovery,” four resilient survivors give us an intimate look into the world of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Their stories are a tapestry of tragedy, courage, and newfound hope.

Jason Poole, a U.S. Marine Corporal, endured critical head injuries from a roadside bomb in Iraq.

College student Kristen Collins’s life changed dramatically after a severe motorcycle accident.

Jay Waller, a pre-med student, faced brutal injuries from a road-rage assault during a vacation.

Tragically, six-year-old Ian McFarland became an orphan and a survivor of a horrific car crash.

Throughout the film, these individuals confront the harrowing moments of their accidents and embark on challenging journeys to recovery.

They learn to navigate the world anew, grappling with walking, talking, and reshaping their identities, often using humor and heartfelt determination.

Despite the lifelong cognitive and emotional challenges they face, each survivor finds a way to forge a new, fulfilling path.

Watch Going the Distance for free on Kanopy (with library card or student ID) at

4) Prodigal Sons

“Prodigal Sons,” a captivating and deeply personal documentary, takes you on an unexpected journey through family, identity, and the complexities of the human psyche.

Directed by Kimberly Reed, this film transcends the typical narrative to explore themes of reconciliation, transformation, and the enduring bonds of family.

Reed, returning to her Montana hometown for her high school reunion, offers an intimate glimpse into her life. As a transgender woman, her journey back home is layered with nuance and emotion, but it’s her relationship with her brother, Marc, that stands at the heart of this story.

Marc, adopted, struggles with his own identity and the shadows of a past that includes a severe head injury, leading to unpredictable behavior.

The film takes a dramatic turn as Marc discovers his biological relatives include Hollywood royalty. This revelation spirals into a quest for connection and belonging, intertwining with Kimberly’s own story of self-discovery and acceptance.

What makes “Prodigal Sons” so compelling is its unscripted authenticity. The interactions, conflicts, and reconciliations are raw and real.

Reed’s brave exposition of her life and her family’s struggles with identity, mental health, and acceptance offers a unique perspective that’s both heart-wrenching and hopeful.

The doc also delves into the complexities of memory, legacy, and the nature of self. It challenges viewers to think about the essence of identity and the deep, often turbulent waters of familial love.

Reed’s journey, coupled with Marc’s search for his past, provides a poignant reflection on the lengths we go to understand ourselves and our place in the world.

“Prodigal Sons” is more than a documentary; it’s a powerful narrative about the human condition. It’s a story of coming home, not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional and psychological journey of embracing one’s true self amidst the tides of family dynamics and past traumas.

Reed’s film is a brave, honest, and ultimately hopeful exploration of what it means to be family, in all its messy and beautiful forms.

You can rent Prodigal Sons on Vimeo at Check to see if any additional streamers add it.

5) Caris’ Peace

“Caris’ Peace,” a profoundly moving documentary, captures the remarkable journey of actress Caris Corfman.

Corfman, a Yale School of Drama graduate, was a rising star in the theater world. Her career, sparkling with promise, was abruptly interrupted by a brain tumor.

The surgery to remove the tumor saved her life but at a great cost: she lost her ability to form new memories.

The doc, crafted with sensitivity and insight, delves deep into Caris’ world post-surgery.

It’s a world where the scripts she once memorized with ease now slip through her fingers like sand. But here’s where the film turns from a tale of loss to one of incredible courage.

Caris, refusing to fade into the shadows of her condition, stages a comeback. Not in the usual sense, but in a way that’s uniquely hers.

It doesn’t shy away from the challenges Caris faces daily, nor does it gloss over the frustrations and heartaches. Yet, amidst this raw reality, there’s a thread of hope, of relentless spirit.

The doc is a testament to the power of art and determination. It showcases how Caris, with the support of her friends and community, adapts her craft to her new reality.

Her journey back to the stage, albeit different from before, is nothing short of inspiring.

Caris’ Peace is not streaming anywhere right now.

But here’s a 12 minute excerpt for free on YouTube:

6) Put Me Together Again

In 2006, Anna Hall gifted us “Put Me Together Again,” a poignant study in human resilience. Over 10 months, Hall’s lens intimately captures the staggering impact of brain injuries on two lives. Kay, a mother, tragically loses her memory-making ability after a mugging.

Her world freezes, unable to recognize her daughter’s growth from child to teen. Contrastingly, Robert, once an aeronautical engineer, now finds solace in arranging feathers and toilet rolls, a stark divergence from his past precision.

Hall’s work, broadcast on Channel 4, delves deep into the brain rehab unit where Kay and Robert reside. Here, small victories mark monumental strides in retraining their brains, a process both painstaking and profound.

The film doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable – it highlights the humor and horror in equal measure, painting a portrait of lives in limbo.

As noted by The Daily Telegraph, Hall’s lens is unflinching yet empathetic, capturing the raw, often unseen, struggles of those living with such conditions and the ripple effects on their loved ones.

A story of loss, love, and the relentless pursuit of recovery, “Put Me Together Again” is a haunting reminder of the fragility and resilience of the human spirit.

I don’t see it streaming right now. out for rebroadcasts on it on Channel 4 in England.

7) My Beautiful Broken Brain

“My Beautiful Broken Brain” is a stunning and deeply personal exploration of life after a brain injury. Directed by Lotje Sodderland and Sophie Robinson, this doc invites viewers into Sodderland’s world following a life-altering hemorrhagic stroke at age 34.

The film begins as Sodderland awakens in a hospital, her world forever changed. Her stroke has left her struggling with language, memory, and perception.

What unfolds is a mesmerizing journey of self-discovery and adaptation. Sodderland’s perspective, both fractured and vibrant, offers a rare window into the complexities of the human brain.

The visual storytelling in this doc is remarkable. It artfully captures the disorienting and sometimes beautiful ways Sodderland sees the world post-stroke.

The filmmakers blend this altered reality with a raw emotional narrative, making the viewer feel deeply connected to Sodderland’s experience.

What sets “My Beautiful Broken Brain” apart is its exploration of identity and resilience. It’s not just about recovery; it’s about redefining oneself in the face of unimaginable change.

The doc shows the challenges Sodderland faces, from simple tasks to relearning language, always highlighting her courage and determination.

This film is a testament to the power of the human spirit. It’s a poignant reminder of our brain’s incredible capacity and vulnerability.

“My Beautiful Broken Brain” is more than a story of injury and recovery; it’s a celebration of life, a journey of acceptance, and an intimate portrait of a woman rediscovering her world.

Watch it on Netflix at

8) Quiet Explosions: Healing the Brain

“Quiet Explosions: Healing the Brain”, covering innovative TBI treatments, directed by Jerri Sher. Both Psychology Today and Amen Clinics recommend this doc.

It showcases the struggles and triumphs of individuals, including veterans, athletes, and accident survivors, all united in their battle against the effects of TBIs.

The doc’s strength lies in its diverse narratives, interwoven to offer a compassionate insight into these challenges. What sets it apart is its focus on cutting-edge treatments and therapies, providing hope and possibility.

A notable aspect of “Quiet Explosions” is the inclusion of Joe Rogan. He discusses the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a treatment he has personally experienced.

Rogan’s presence adds depth to the exploration of brain injury treatments, emphasizing their relevance across various lifestyles.

This film is a blend of personal stories and medical science, educating and humanizing the issue. It’s a story of resilience, hope, and the human spirit, highlighting paths forward even in great challenges.

Rogan’s contribution enriches the doc, making it a must-watch for those interested in brain health and recovery.

You can rent Quiet Explosions on Apple, Amazon, YouTube et al. See for details. You can also buy it here:

9) Brain Injury and Concussions (PBS)

“Brain Injury and Concussions,” Season 15, Episode 1510, is a 59-minute episode from PBS.

It delves into the critical and often misunderstood world of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussions.

This episode, which aired on June 21, 2018, is an essential watch for anyone seeking to understand the impact and treatment of brain injuries.

The episode starts by laying out the startling statistics: millions suffer from brain injuries yearly, with a significant number requiring hospitalization.

This introduction sets the stage for a deep exploration into TBIs, half of which result from car accidents.

The discussion on TBIs is thorough, informative, and timely, considering the prevalence of these injuries.

The focus then shifts to concussions, described as the most common and least serious type of brain injury. The episode excels in breaking down the medical complexities associated with concussions, making it accessible to a broad audience.

Expert insights are provided by Craig Panos, MD; RaMona Pinto, MS; Keith D’Souza, MD; and Amitoz Manhas, MD.

Their contributions offer a multi-faceted view of the topic, blending medical expertise with practical advice. The inclusion of various medical perspectives enriches the episode, ensuring a well-rounded discussion.

With closed captioning, the episode is accessible, enhancing its educational value.

Watch it on PBS for free here:

10) A Mother’s Traumatic Head Injury Has a Devastating Effect on Her Family

“A Mother’s Traumatic Head Injury,” crafted by Kieran Nolan Jones, is a personal documentary that explores the profound impact of his mother, Debra Jones’s, brain injury.

Echoing the gripping realism of Scorsese and the emotional depth of Spielberg, this doc navigates the turbulent aftermath of a life-changing event.

The film opens with a festive night gone awry, leading to Debra’s tragic accident. What follows is a journey laden with pain, personality shifts, and the family’s struggle for normalcy.

It’s a narrative turn reminiscent of the poignant unpredictability in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Kieran’s storytelling unveils the often invisible struggles of brain injury. Debra’s experience, marked by pain and societal misunderstanding, sheds light on the broader issue of brain injury awareness.

His documentary mission is akin to a Herculean effort, demanding yet vital.

The doc goes beyond mere narration. Kieran, stepping in front of the camera, adds a raw, unfiltered dimension to “A Mother’s Traumatic Head Injury.”

Kieran’s transformation from observer to participant, caregiver, and storyteller makes the film a deeply authentic piece.

Watch it for free on YouTube at

11) Keep Moving Forward: Children with Brain Injuries

“Keep Moving Forward” explores the lives of three children and their families as they navigate the daily challenges of living with brain injury.

Viewer comments add another layer to the documentary’s impact. Stories of personal struggles with TBI, shared triumphs, and unyielding perseverance offer a communal sense of hope and solidarity.

These reflections from viewers who have faced similar battles underscore the documentary’s resonating message of never giving up.

Watch it for free on YouTube at

12) Hi I’m Blake

“Hi I’m Blake,” directed by Jon Michael Simpson, is a deeply moving documentary that tells the story of Blake Hyland, a young gymnast whose life was forever altered by a traumatic brain injury.

The 2022 doc (spanning 1 hour and 17 minutes) begins with Blake’s life-changing accident in 2014, depicting the harrowing moment when a gymnastics move went tragically wrong, resulting in severe brain damage.

Simpson, a family friend and sophomore film student at the University of Texas, initially captures this journey for a short film competition, which he wins, but realizes that Blake’s story is far from over.

Over six years, Simpson, alongside filmmaker Jeff McQuitty, documents Blake’s remarkable recovery, showcasing not only his physical progress but also his undying spirit and infectious positivity.

The feature-length version, which caught the attention of media moguls Chip and Joanna Gaines, premiered on their Magnolia Network as part of the inspiring series “Hi, I’m.”

Blake’s journey, from a medically-induced coma with a 50% chance of survival to graduating Magna Cum Laude from Texas Tech University, is nothing short of miraculous.

His aspirations to become a motivational speaker and his impact on others are profoundly captured in this documentary.

Simpson’s film is a heartfelt tribute to Blake and an inspiring watch for anyone facing adversity.

You can rent Hi I’m Blake on Apple and Amazon. See for more details.

13) In memory of Julissa Gomez

A sweet documentary in honor of Julissa Gomez who had a horrible gymnastics accident.

During the final warmups on May 5, 1988, Gomez continued practicing her Yurchenko vault. Tragically, on one of her runs, she slipped off the springboard, causing her to collide headfirst into the vaulting horse at high velocity.

This catastrophic accident instantly left her paralyzed from the neck down. Later, while in a Japanese hospital, a critical incident where she was disconnected from her ventilator led to severe brain damage and a coma.

Gomez was lovingly cared for by her family for three years until her passing in August 1991 in Houston due to an infection.

The aftermath of Gomez’s accident marked a turning point in artistic gymnastics, highlighting the need for increased safety measures. In response, in 1989, the International Gymnastics Federation implemented the use of U-shaped springboard mats during competitions.

These mats, typically used in practice, offer gymnasts a higher margin of error. By 2006, not using this safety mat for Yurchenko-style vaults resulted in an automatic zero score, as per the Code of Points.

Additionally, in a move towards greater safety, the traditional vaulting horse was replaced in 2001 by a larger and more stable vaulting table.

This change was aimed at providing gymnasts with a safer environment, significantly reducing the risk of similar accidents.

14) TBI & My Longest Ride

In 2010, Karl Kajomo Moritz’s life took a dramatic turn when a car struck him head-on during his bicycle commute home, resulting in a five-week coma.

In the face of this life-altering event, Kajomo crafted a unique recovery strategy combining healthy eating, acupuncture, speech therapy, neurofeedback, and high-intensity cycling on a velodrome track.

This journey, which Kajomo refers to as “spinning for neurogenesis,” wasn’t just about physical recovery; it was a holistic approach to enhancing cognitive function and overall brain health.

Along this path, he also focused on rebuilding connections with his sons and re-engaging with his community, marking a remarkable journey of resilience and reconnection.

Watch TBI & My Longest Ride for free on YouTube at

15) Me & My New Brain

Snowboarder’s Brain Injury Saga Finds Inspiration Amid Adversity

A freak snowboarding accident leaves Charlie with severe brain trauma, erasing recollections and nearly life itself.

She awakens from a coma to a new harrowing reality, one where walking and speaking are lost.

Charlie conveys the brutal physical and emotional toll through sparse but vivid details. There is darkness, but also discovery of “inner me.”

She emerges to embrace fresh objectives, from instructing fellow disabled athletes to launching an inclusive clothing line.

Yet the injury’s devastating effects linger beneath Charlie’s optimism.

She admits only recently recognizing her complete suffering amid unsupportive friends. It is love that provides revelation – she can be whole again.

Charlie’s account lays bare her monumental loss and hard-won gains.

Her concise prose extracts profound meaning from calamity. In just fleeting passages, Charlie evokes the complexities of reinventing oneself.

Watch Me & My New Brain on for free on Daily Motion at (but beware the annoying ads that seem to pop up!)

Thanks for reading!

-Rob Kelly