In October 2003, I became a victim of traumatic brain injury. That’s when I was hit and dragged by a pickup truck while riding a Big Wheel trike at a friend’s party. Emergency brain surgery saved my life, but I lost a portion of the back part of my brain. At the age of ten, I had to learn how to breathe, swallow, talk, eat, stand, sit, walk—everything— all over again.

Traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of disability among children, yet, because of the complexity of the brain, experts still have much to learn about how to treat TBI. In When the Lights Go Out, I describe my therapies—what’s worked, what hasn’t, and why—and share how I learned to cope with the emotional and psychological challenges. In the process, I have discovered the critical roles that faith in God, love of family, the healing power of friends, and the inherent goodness of people all played in my ability to triumph over overwhelming odds. I have also learned that a horrific accident has given me an amazing gift. When the Lights Go Out is an expression of that gift.

Ryan Boyle is a highly motivated teenager with a great sense of humor. Ryan attended St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Connecticut. He was the founding president of the St. Joseph car club, managed the boys’ varsity basketball team, was elected to the student council, joined the video production club, and was a student ambassador. He moved to Georgia in January 2011, with his mom, dad, and older brother, Matt, for better therapeutic opportunities. He recently graduated from Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell. When Ryan wrote his book at the end of his freshmen year of high school, he knew that he wanted to speak about his road to recovery and share his story of inspiration. He has spoken at his school in Georgia, at Clemson University, and at Safe America, where he went for his driving classes.

TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury

We hear about it in newspaper stories and TV reports about soldiers returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in discussions about sports-related concussions. In the United States, there are an estimated 1.7 million cases each year.

In October 2003, I became a victim of TBI when I was hit and dragged by a truck while riding a Big Wheel trike at a friend’s house. The medics on the scene were ready to pronounce me dead. Miraculously, I made it through emergency brain surgery, where a portion of my cerebellum was removed.

At the age of ten, I had to learn to breathe, swallow, talk, stand, walk—everything— all over again.

This inspirational story describes how I had to overcome enormous obstacles. It is also about a spiritual journey of reflection, prayer, and many incomprehensible acts of faith. This is a living example of how a horrific event can be overcome by measures of strength, determination, and faith that you never knew you had within.