When Ron Ogle talks about traumatic brain injury, he speaks with the passion of someone who has overcome a coma to resume his singing career.
And Mr. Ogle says he is determined to keep others from walking the path he's been forced to travel for more than a year.
"I spent 38 years roaming around this planet without thinking about my brain," said Mr. Ogle, who was seriously injured in a Baltimore bar fight in late August 1993.
"If you asked me [to choose between] cutting off my fingers or bashing my head, I probably would have picked my head," he said. "People aren't as concerned about their heads."
That need for concern is something Mr. Ogle, a musician who must now depend on his parents in Finksburg for support, learned the hard way.
Mr. Ogle -- who suffered three serious skull fractures, a dislocated jaw and now has various problems with his eyesight and sense of smell -- filed assault, battery and robbery charges about five months after the fight when he began to recover from his injuries. A trial is scheduled for February.
"Whether you've been assaulted, abused, battered, sitting in a car, sky diving or playing football, you need to be aware of [traumatic brain injury]," said Mr. Ogle, noting that it affects about 2 million Americans each year.
"You need to take the time to look because it can happen to you," he said. "For all Americans, there needs to be a designated right to rehabilitation and awareness."
Making others aware of traumatic brain injury is now an all consuming passion for Mr. Ogle, who completed nearly a year in therapy this summer.
Largely due to his efforts, Marylanders will soon hear radio public service announcements about how to prevent traumatic brain injuries.
The 60-second spot -- which Mr. Ogle persuaded Order Productions, a Baltimore recording company, to produce -- includes a toll-free telephone number for more information about the disorder.
The announcement also features Mr. Ogle, a keyboard player and guitarist, singing a song he composed about a fellow patient with traumatic brain injury.
"He's interested in letting people know that many traumatic brain injuries are treatable, that therapy is available," said Joyce Kline, co-owner of Order Productions. "Ron's song 'Special One' is beautiful."
In addition, Mr. Ogle has helped Order Productions organize a concert to benefit the Maryland Head Injury Foundation. The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 9 at Kraushaar Auditorium on the Goucher College campus in Towson.
Music is one of the things that put Mr. Ogle on the road to recovery after he awoke from a coma four days after the attack.
"When I first met him, he was in a fog," said Judy Iacarino, a therapist with the Maryland Neuro Rehab Center in Westminster. Most patients with brain injuries need to get used to who they've become -- a person with the same personality but with permanent mental injuries, Ms. Iacarino said. Mr. Ogle was no different.
"He was still in the patient rehab and looking at this as a dream, like 'hey, in two weeks I'm going to be on the West Coast,' " she said. "[When] I told him . . . the average patient is here three to six months, he fell on the floor."
"It seemed like it wasn't reality to me," said Mr. Ogle, 38. "It seemed like in one minute I'd start to run. But days, weeks and months went by and I was still here [in rehabilitation]."
Before his injury, Mr. Ogle said he used to thumb through the phone book, calling restaurants and bars asking for auditions in hopes of landing his next gig.
After the accident, he funneled that energy into calling 'u legislators, public officials and anyone else he thought could help him bring those who injured him to justice.
"Many patients have a lot of anger," Ms. Iacarino said. "They ask, 'Why me?' It's not the most productive thing, but they have to think this through.
"Part of the whole process is getting beyond that."
But the desire to perform again, coupled with the realization that he could remember things better when they were set to music, helped him work through that anger, Mr. Ogle said.
Recently, he has started to perform again locally, primarily at senior centers and for functions supporting patients with traumatic brain injuries.
But more important to his recovery was the realization that there were other brain-injured patients in the world, some of whom had more severe challenges to overcome.