How Accurate Are Movies About Traumatic Brain Injury?
It’s estimated that over 69 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) worldwide each year. Although brain injuries are a common occurrence, they are rarely depicted accurately in television and movies. Contrary to what’s shown on screen, brain injuries don’t just cause amnesia. In reality, the symptoms of TBI (and other brain conditions) are often much more complex and far-reaching.
When you or someone you love suffers TBI, the experience can be jarring and leave you wondering what the road to recovery will look like. We’ve compiled this list of top-rated brain injury movies to help you more fully understand the struggles and triumphs that come along with living with a brain condition.
The following movie plots cover a range of brain conditions including TBI, stroke, ALS, and memory loss.
Top Movies about Brain Injury and Brain Conditions
2013 | Sports Documentary | 108 min
This documentary looks at the life-long rivalry between snowboarders Shaun White and Kevin Pierce as they gear up for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Pierce’s journey is cut short when he suffers a devastating crash while practicing on a half-pipe. What follows is a difficult recovery that takes place in the midst of his rival winning gold at the Olympics. Above all else, Pierce dreams of returning to snowboarding despite his family’s concerns.
2014 | Biography | 123 min
The Theory of Everything is a biopic that explores the life of Steven Hawking, one of the most celebrated physicists of all time. This film follows his time at Cambridge in the 1960s, his diagnosis of a rare neurological disorder (ALS) at 21, and his complicated relationship with his wife and children.
2016 | Documentary | 86 min
This film follows the lives of 3 artists who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. As the filmmaker emphasizes, the film is not “designed to be inspirational.” Instead, it takes a hard look at the loneliness, financial hardships, and stigma people with TBI often face.
2014 | Documentary | 86 min
This award-winning documentary follows the journey of a 34-year-old woman recovering from a life-altering hemorrhagic stroke. What follows is a beautiful account of what it means to embrace an altered life, an altered reality, and altered perception after TBI.
2010 | Documentary | 84 min
This larger-than-life documentary takes a peek inside the mind of Mark Hogancamp as he recovers from a traumatic brain injury brought on by a vicious attack. Post-injury, Mark finds refuge in building a tiny scale model of a town called Marwencol.
2015 | Drama/Thriller | 123 min
This film is based on the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith) and his quest to reveal the truth about the long-term effects of repeated concussions on football players. His goal, while noble, eventually puts him in danger as he takes on one of the most powerful organizations in the country.
7. Caris’ Peace
2010 | Documentary | 123 min
In Caris’ Peace, actress Caris Corfman documents life after losing her ability to form new memories. Above all else, she dreams of returning to the stage. While Caris’ condition is quite rare, it’s still an important piece of work that documents the unique struggles and possibilities of life with a brain condition.
8. The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
2007 | Drama |112 min
After suffering a stroke, editor Jean-Dominique Bauby realizes he cannot move or speak. Diagnosed with a real, but rare condition, called Locked-In Syndrome, Bauby is fully conscious but completely paralyzed besides his left eye. What follows is a journey through frustration, love, and acceptance as he works with his family members, friends, and rehabilitation staff to learn to communicate again.
9. The Lookout
2007 | Drama | 99 min
In The Lookout, a young man with a bright future ahead of him suffers a devastating accident. Left with a traumatic brain injury, he struggles to hold down a job, but eventually finds work as a night janitor at a bank. Life turns upside down for him the night a gang enters the building during an attempted heist. Faced with an opportunity to escape his old life, he must ultimately decide what’s right and wrong.
2017 | Comedy/Drama | 110 min
Surprisingly humorous, Patients, is the story of a man recovering from a major sports injury that has left him unable to take care of himself or partake in his former hobbies. When he lands at a physiotherapy center, he forms a rag-tag group of friends. Together, they learn that life, even after an accident, is still about the same things: dating, laughter, fun, and friendship.
11. New Run
2016 | Documentary | 68 min
Just weeks after graduating high school, a prodigy freestyle skier faces a traumatic accident. This documentary follows his rehabilitation journey as he comes to terms with his new life.
12. Along Recovery
2014 | Documentary | 94 min
After serving two, intense tours, Iraq war veteran Justin Springer sets out to investigate the condition of medical care at Walter Reed Hospital and the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury within the Army. With over 450,000 instances of TBI sustained by veterans in the last 20 years, Springer documents both the struggles and triumphs of dealing with this serious brain condition.
13. When Billy Broke His Head… and Other Tales of Wonder
1995 | Documentary | 60 min
This documentary takes a hard look at how society treats people with TBI. Although this film is less recent, it still brings up important questions related to civil rights, disability, and what life should look like after a traumatic brain injury.
14. Bell Ringer: The Invisible Brain Injury
2016 | Sports Documentary | 56 min
Through a combination of interviews with professional players, doctors, and scientific researchers, this film explores the truth about brain injuries and their prevalence among young people. After this film, you’ll have a better idea of how to handle a head injury and how to prevent one altogether.
2006 | Documentary | 50 min
In 1996, Montrealer Paul Nadler was 30 years old and engaged in a variety of interesting hobbies including snowboarding, scuba diving, play-writing, and rock climbing. That all came to a grinding halt when Nadler experienced a serious car accident. Braindamadj’d… Take II is a deeply personal documentary that takes a hard look at the recovery journey and the toll it takes both physically and emotionally.
Find Help For Traumatic Brain Injury
If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury, help is available. Options Residential provides several unique types of residential services to help those suffering from brain injuries regain the skills they need to live independently again.
Reach out to our team to learn more about our customized living services.