Others, like me, wanted to know all the possibilities right away: the worst case, the best case, and everything in between. Just jump to the next section. Physical complaints are the easiest to detect and the quickest to be treated. While many physical deficits are permanent, others can be remedied or moderated with physical therapy and other types of treatment, such as exercise, surgery, and prescription medication, taken orally or injected into troublesome areas.
The one physical complaint every survivor experiences is fatigue, particularly during the early days of recovery and rehabilitation. The healing brain devours energy. The injured brain must work double-, triple-, or even quadruple-time to perform even simple tasks. In rehab, Jessica sometimes slept sixteen or more hours a day. Even today, she frequently needs eleven or twelve hours of sleep to re-energize herself.
Finally, many folks living with brain injury are clumsy due to impaired muscle coordination, balance, and motor control. Cognitive complaints, almost always, are the most disabling of the six types of impairments caused by a brain injury. They are most profound immediately after the injury when the survivor has very limited awareness. During rehabilitation, cognitive abilities typically improve dramatically, but rarely fully. All but a handful of survivors of serious brain injuries experience major cognitive deficits. In the past, it was believed that, after two years, people living with a brain injury made little or no progress in cognitive ability.
New research, however, has demonstrated that recovery can, with effort, be a lifelong exercise. Cognitive impairments — by themselves or in combination — cause many problems in daily life. Take reading, for example. One person has difficulty reading because her injury damaged the language centers of her brain.
A second person struggles to read since her injury compromised her short-term memory. A third canceled her library card because her injury ravaged her ability to concentrate. She started a book twenty times and never got past the first page. Unlike physical complaints, which are easily diagnosed, cognitive impairments can be subtle. This is especially true with a package of higher-level cognitive abilities called executive functioning. We use our executive functioning abilities to do everything from making an egg salad sandwich to launching a spacecraft.
Memory almost always is impaired by a brain injury. Four types of memory can be affected, singly or in combination:. Without this realization, the survivor sees no reason to work hard to recover her cognitive abilities and, thereby, remains seriously impaired. She may become belligerent as she is unable to understand why her life has become so difficult. You may find that your survivor dresses in the morning before showering or is overwhelmed at the idea of preparing a simple lunch of soup and a sandwich.
Her executive functioning abilities have been disturbed by her brain injury. These are the primary components of executive-functioning:. Two common, but usually temporary, cognitive complaints are confabulation and perseveration. Confabulation, also known as false memory, is the confusion of imagination and memory. The patient, struggling to explain the gaps in her memory and her bewilderment and fear as she emerges from her coma, creates a, sometimes, bizarre fantasy.
Some survivors actually believe they are being held prisoner and are the subjects of strange experiments or sadistic behaviors. Perseveration is the persistent repetition of a response — a word, a phrase, or a gesture, when the stimulus that triggered the response has disappeared. For example, the patient may respond to a question and then repeat the answer over and over, even well after the person who posed the question has left the room.
The physical impediments include:. Emotional complaints arise either directly from the injury to the brain or indirectly as a reaction to one or more primary impairments. For example, one survivor is depressed due to damage to the part of the brain that governs emotions. A second survivor is depressed because she has trouble expressing herself and has lost nearly all her friends. Often, when a patient slowly regains consciousness, she is in a pleasant mood as her view of the world clears. Later, when she begins to recognize the extent of her impairments, she becomes vulnerable to a wide range of debilitating emotions.
As with emotional complaints, behavioral problems result from a combination of direct and indirect causes. Damage to the area of the brain that houses self-control and social awareness can rob the survivor of the filter that keeps her behavior consistent with socially accepted norms. Sometimes, behavioral problems don't develop until the survivor returns home and expects her life to return to normal. They also can undermine a survivor's transition back into the community.
Behavioral problems can be tricky to treat and require considerable patience and understanding from others. Extreme behavioral impairments require highly structred treatment by professionals in an inpatient setting. Probably the most common social complaint arising from a brain injury is loneliness.
This is particularly true among the largest group of survivors, young men just entering adulthood. Many survivors rely heavily on their families to satisfy their social needs. Brain injury also is cruel to romantic relationships, especially newer ones. Some survivors become self-centered and unable to recognize and respond to the needs of their partners. Some partners are unwilling to adjust to the transformation in their survivors.
In a culture influenced heavily by the beauty and witty repartee of television and film stars, many people discount the possibility of becoming friends with someone who has multiple impairments. Despite these obstacles, however, plenty of survivors on the panel remain happily married. Others have discovered love and marriage after their brain injury.
These are the primary complaints that create social barriers for survivors:. A common symptom of serious brain injuries, spasticity is caused by damage to a particular part of the brain or tears in the bundles of nerves around the brainstem that control movement and sensation. To appreciate what a spastic muscle feels like, concentrate on one of your muscles. Tense this muscle as if it's being worked to its limit. Then, try to imagine how you would go about your daily activities with this muscle permanently contracted.
A posture characteristic of spasticity is legs stretched out straight and stiff and arms bent up at the elbow. Other areas commonly affected by spasticity are the shoulders, elbows, wrists, fists, thumbs, feet, toes, knees, thighs, and hips. The severity of spasticity, which can worsen with time, ranges from mild muscle stiffness to painful, crippling, uncontrollable muscle spasms. It also can be a major impediment to rehabilitation. Cold weather, fatigue, and multi-tasking can exacerbate the spasms. For survivors who have extreme mobility impairments, spasticity, at times, can be helpful.
Often, spasticity resolves with time and therapy, although it may never disappear. A combination of treatments is used to prevent the further shortening of muscles and to reduce the severity of the symptoms:. For decades researchers believed that seizures were caused by sudden and unpredictable abnormal electrical activity in the brain. New research suggests that chemicals released by the brain itself, in an effort to repair the injured site, may be the cause. The symptoms of post-traumatic epilepsy depend on where in the brain the abnormality electrical or chemical occurs.
Seizures can be confined to a small area or involve the entire brain. Their severity ranges from mild discomfort and disorientation to extreme physical and mental disability.
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Seizures can last from a few seconds to five minutes. About ten percent of survivors develop post-traumatic epilepsy and experience continuing seizures. Patients with scarring on the brain from skull fractures, penetrating injuries, bruising, and focal bleeding, are at the greatest risk of having seizures. A brain injury survivor usually will have her first seizure soon after her injury.
The first seizure, however, can occur as much as four to twenty years after the injury, depending on which research you read. A seizure can be a one-time event or a lifelong problem. Jessica had a seizure in the emergency room soon after her accident, but none since.
Most post-traumatic epilepsy responds well to anti-convulsant medications. Finding the best drug and dosage, however, can take time, and anticonvulsants can trigger unpleasant side-effects. Taking medication, however, is essential.
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Uncontrolled seizures can further damage the brain. Given these symptoms, persons prone to seizures must avoid situations that can place themselves or somebody else at risk. Driving is the most inconvenient of these restrictions, which also include using power tools, climbing ladders, and swimming and bathing alone.
In the first days or weeks, the family is in crisis mode. Day-to-day routines and the needs of other members are cast aside as the family spends hours at the hospital. The focus of attention is on the patient.
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Everyone is battered by a wide range of emotions: worry, guilt, anger, helplessness, and grief, among others. Later, when the survivor returns home, each family member must learn to accommodate her impairments, adjust to new routines, and, possibly, assume new roles and responsibilities within the household. There is no single correct way a family should act immediately after a brain injury.
Some people are at ease and useful at the hospital. Others are too traumatized to approach the patient. Some people will spend most of their time at the hospital. Others will return to work or school, by choice or necessity. Everyone must adjust in his own way and at his own pace. The circumstances of the injury may create tension. Issues among family members, unresolved before the injury, may explode under the stress of the situation. These tensions can be heightened if the patient is hospitalized far from home.
The caregiver can feel imprisoned in a disagreeable hospital setting, lonely and isolated from family and friends, and guilty for not tending to responsibilities at home. The folks at home may suffer from the absence of two family members, especially if it is both parents.
Later, the family may feel isolated when the immediate crisis passes and relatives and friends return to their own busy lives and provide less support. Adult children, who live away from home, might be torn between two families. They dearly want to help care for their injured sister, but they have more pressing obligations to their spouse, children, and employer.
Jessica and I have no children and I was retired at the time of her collision. So, I was able to focus my time and energy on her recovery and rehabilitation. Most of the caregivers on the panel, however, were forced to juggle caring for their survivor, their children, their job, and other responsibilities. I have relied heavily on their input to offer the following advice for parents trying to cope with a brain injury in the family.
A brain injury places great stress on every member of the household. If this stress is not addressed, it can tear a family apart. Your children will look to you as a guide, seeing from your words and behavior the gravity of the situation. Here are nine ways to keep young children feeling loved and well cared for:. Bear in mind, however, that even the youngest child knows a bad thing has happened and may imagine all sorts of horrors until his questions are answered.
Here are ten ways to keep your children informed and prepared for an upheaval in family life and routines:. You also are the best judge of whether your children will benefit from visiting your survivor in the hospital. Here are eight guidelines to keep in mind when weighing the pluses and minuses of a visit:. A possible exception to this rule is if the patient is alert and a visit with the child will be therapeutic. Introduce your child to the doctors and nurses. This will give him an opportunity to pose questions to the experts.
This may comfort both parties. Encourage him to participate in caring for your survivor in other ways, such as drawing pictures and sending cards and letters. Be careful. This should be encouraged to the extent their maturity permits. Others will not. This is okay, but asking them to assume more responsibility at home is reasonable.
Some are more conservative than others at deciding when a patient has advanced a level on the Rancho Scale. You may want to limit visits during this time. Your survivor likely will experience setbacks in her recovery and rehabilitation. Do you know the difference between primary and secondary impairments?
Communication impairments have many different causes. Will you be able to perform this important job? You may want to ask family members and friends to clear their schedules to attend some rehab sessions with your survivor. Used with permission. Thank you for this information. I have shared it with my family to hopefully better understand my condition. In I was in a massive train accident. I dislocated my right hip, broke my back in 27 places, destroyed both shoulders my left had to be reconstructed and my right totally replaced all the way to my elbow, I also broke my neck and more to the point crushed the back of my skull causing a severe PTSD and TBI I was also diagnosed with bipolar1.
I went through tons of therapy and physicals and emotional. I still walk with a limp and have limited use of my right arm and deal with severe pain from my back. These are all things I can deal with. My TBI is another story. On of the other problems with TBI you can be talked into almost anything. The only real relief is the solstice I find in my art.
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I really hope that everyone reads this article and understands that when you see people using crutches or in a wheelchair your natural instinct is to show empathy and offer assistance. Ohers inability to recognize problems cause other problems in us. Hi All, My son received a severe traumatic brain injury 14 yrs ago. It completely changed his life and it has been a very difficult and challenging journey. He recovered walking talking ect right side affected , limp and right arm not so limber , drives a car, has done several courses but still cannot get fulltime work.
Has some serious problems which affect his marriage relationship but he continues to get support and help for every challenge. Needs a lot of family support still. Be prepared to always be supportive and understanding. Parents, usually mother takes main caring role even when they leave home ect as the carer will be the main source of info and strategies ect on their condition. His siblings after initial concern don't make extra efforts to support him as probably they need more counselling on his situation. Emotionally its very hard for them, like losing their brother as he's no longer the same.
He's still a great guy though and very loving father to his new baby son. Turning to God and the church has helped him a lot. He wouldn't have been able to cope without the Lord in his life. Keep on keeping on is my advice and trust in and pray to God for strength and wisdom for each new day, week, and year. Life will never be the same again. But God through Christ can help you shoulder and bear the burden gladly and joyfully praising him for every achievement. Thanks for this. I've been dealing with this since my teens 46 now and didn't understand what was happening.
I've recently been diagnosed with multiple TBIs as a young teens with multiple concussions and loss of consciousness, they just didn't know the extent back in the early 80s. I read all of this would just appreciate advice on my complete issue. If anyone can help me I would appreciate it. I have tried to show this to others around me but they even tell me I am stupid to try and make them read it.
I was attacked in and after the attack hit with a brick on the right side of my head causing me to become unconscious and taken to the hospital. This caused brain damage. Something I did not notice and it was my own doctor who noticed about 6 months later. I lost my first marriage due to it turning me into a totally different man. I have tried to work at my personality changes over the years and still suffer anger issues without violence but more verbal if someone threatens or tends to argue with me.
Recently, my year-old daughter stopped talking to me because of a post I put on facebook. I got angry over this. Now I don't see my grandkids or get any Father's Day cards or birthday cards. Because of my problems, none of my siblings talk to me and they all call me mental. I have tried to show them my medical reports and explain why I am like I am but they choose to isolate me and all stick together. I was in a queue for a coffee and my niece stood in front of me. I said hi and she blanked me.
I hurt more than I could ever explain to anyone and makes the depression worse but know I have to now accept they will never accept me. Thank you , my brother suffered a head injury years ago and as i read your paper it made a world of sense.
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Although doctors explained to me the implications of head trauma your paper puts me in aposition to communicate better with him. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is now and I have NO clue how I made it. I was blessed with no seizures but that does not make my life dealing with people any easier I can think the right words but my mouth will not say them.
In the last several years I have become quite reclusive as people think because I don't talk much at all that I am conceited. When I do talk I will lose train of thought or just stare. I live this journey alone. Was in a T-Bone vehicle accident 1 year ago. I take life one day at a time and cherish every moment, as I was also born with a congenital birth defect of missing top bone in neck, so I really shouldn't have survived being hit at 60 MPH rolling on side of car and then popped onto the roof went unconscious for a bit and hung upside down for a while.
Had a great team of neurologists. Doc said, if you are not completely bored out of your mind, your not doing it right. I could not talk right mixed up letters in words and could not walk unassisted for about a month and a half. The doctor made a wiggly snake like line from the top left of the page to the bottom right of the page and said to me You will have a couple really good days, and then You will feel like the week after the accident.
It will get better but slowly and it will feel like you take two steps forward and three steps backwards. This has been true.
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At first I was also very emotional. Cried a lot, now I don't. At first I had migraines and now they are getting better. Language is sometimes still a bit of trouble and frustrating when I'm more tired. I have to take frequent brain breaks during my work and this helps me to not feel so brain taxed. Good luck to you all and this will get better and better and then you will find your new normal and so will your loved one's. They will have trouble understanding and don't know how to help, and want to, but will eventually find their new normal too.
She is 52 as an LPN. They have put a VP Shunt and trach in to help her. She responds to her name and wants something in her hand at all times. I'm her 28 yo daughter and the only person helping. Anybody have advise on how to stimulate her brain? Things I a can do? She does seem frustrated when I call her mom or acts confused.
They are about to send her to an Ltac unit to get her off the trach. I am just so lost because I don't know what to do? I don't have kids so I am not good at this. Holding my emotions are hard. Any advise would help! Thanks and God bless! When a person suffers from a brain trauma, why does it change their physical appearance I have only just come across this article and I will read again in full I am sure many times over. In after almost a year of various interventions to stabilize the fluid in her ventricles during a procedure to remove all of the shunts, due to an infection she suffered an inter cranial infarction.
She was extremely independent - had been married had 2 children, was a working independent single mum. She couldn't talk, walk, read, or write. Didn't know how to care for herself. Thank you for writing this it helps me form the pathway even further. Brain injury is personal in every way no 2 are ever the same but having the information that helps provide a gage is extremely useful. Mums recently had 3 falls and resulting 3 seizures. She has altered a lot. We are awaiting MRI and neuropsychology appointments.
This information is so very helpful. Especially as mum seems to be all those negative behaviors with only myself. This has helped me understand a lot about what is going on, which in the long run will help me to understand and I hope help. I had a brain injury years ago in my late teens and I am still having severe memory issues What can be done?? This is just what I needed.
My husband started having memory issues about 16 months ago. We have had MRI and a echo of the brain. Nothing is advisable. He has finally been set for a neropyhc test in Sept. I think he had a brain injury but I don't know when it happened. Recently it has worsened. He ask questions that don't make sense. Are we married? Whose dogs are those? He lived in Calgary so they communicated solely online. Meanwhile Linda continued to date some of the men who lived in Winnipeg.
That's where the "kiss a lot of toads" came in. Her online relationship with Pelucid progressed to the point where it was obvious they had to meet. Pelucid flew to Winnipeg for a week and the two proved that their online relationship worked in person. Soon Pelucid was making plans to move permanently to Winnipeg and Linda deregistered her account on the dating website.
Pelucid and Linda were made for each other but they certainly experienced some hurdles along the way which Linda bravely divulges. For anyone who is searching for the right other half Linda's grandmother's saying should give them heart "Every pot has its lid". The trick is finding it in that big disorganized crockery drawer. I'm going to loan this book to a friend who I think needs to remember this lesson.
Passed this on to my "work daughter" because I thought she would enjoy it. Recently Released. Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.