When UBC mechanical engineering student Yi Yi Du came out of a two-month-long coma after being struck by a car in the fall of 2021, no one knew what the next stage of his life would look like.
People who experience traumatic brain injuries, like Du did, often either don’t live very long, or they face a significantly reduced quality of life.
Du fought back, embraced a gruelling rehabilitation program, and was back to taking classes a year after the injury, achieving the highest grades possible. This Wednesday, he walks across the stage at UBC to accept his diploma, marking another chapter in a life that has defied expectations.
In the fall, Du will start a PhD program at Stanford University, where he is hoping to develop technologies that can support people who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In Canada alone, it is estimated that more than 165,000 new cases of traumatic brain injury occur each year.
“As an undergrad, my research was already focused on mild TBI. The accident enhanced my motivation to use my education to design engineering products that can prevent, mitigate or rehabilitate TBI,” says Du, a keen hiker and mountaineer who used to enjoy climbing local peaks before his accident.
“Having spent many months in hospitals and rehabilitation centres, I understand and share the desires of many brain injury patients for products that can restore the freedoms they enjoyed before their injury. I look forward to honing my engineering skills to meet those needs.”
Journalists interested in speaking with Yi Yi Du can contact Lou Corpuz-Bosshart at email@example.com to arrange an interview.