Psychiatry

Brain Injury Awareness

{With my mentor after my sports concussion talk in San Diego last year}

I find that the more passionate I am about a certain subject, the harder it is for me to write about the topic in my blog (mostly because there’s so much I’d like to convey in a brief post).  Today is the last day of Brain Injury Awareness Month and the theme for this year’s campaign is Not Alone.  I’ve worked with several patients whose lives and their family’s lives are dramatically changed as a result of the injury.  From mild concussion to post-concussion syndrome to traumatic encephalopathy — to be honest, I don’t believe there’s anything about brain injury that can be characterized as “mild” mostly because the injury can potentially lead to longterm, permanent damage and impact their lives forever.

My goal in treatment has been to improve their quality of life and restore daily functioning to as close to normal as possible.  Unfortunately, restoration of baseline functioning is not possible for some.   At that point, the focus shifts to recovery, acceptance, and how to move forward and cope with the sometimes debilitating symptoms.  And acceptance doesn’t only need to be acknowledged by those injured, but also their families.  One of the hardest, yet most rewarding parts of my job has been to help my patients find motivation within themselves to keep pushing forward and find a sense of purpose in their lives.  And it’s crushing to see family members feel helpless as they watch their loved one struggle to overcome the physical and emotional barriers.  However, recovery is possible and I work with several patients who find hope and are motivated to look for work, seek support from loved ones, and find ways to make their lives as enjoyable as possible.

The theme Not Alone refers to the estimated 12 million Americans who live with the impact of traumatic brain injury and the 5.3 million who live with resultant disabilities. These numbers don’t even account for the number of people who do not seek treatment. There are many misconceptions about when to seek help (which I plan to discuss in a future post), in addition to social pressures to underreport (especially in sports). Many often feel ashamed of their injury, but hopefully with increased awareness, the general public will recognize its prevalence and take part in providing support and understanding to those effected.

For more information on brain injury, please visit the Brain Injury Association of America website.

6 thoughts on “Brain Injury Awareness

  1. Since our law firm specializes in car accidents, we see numerous people who suffer from brain injuries. It is tragic for those who cannot return to the life they knew, and a great drain for their families. I agree with you that the classification of “mild” TBI can be a misnomer, and in litigation it often leads to insurance companies accusing (with the aid of hired experts) the injured person of “malingering.” This deprecation and the difficulty in accessing medical treatment can be a second trauma for the individual.

    • for my presentation i looked up the evolution of the definition of “concussion” which included inferences of exactly what u mentioned about accusations of malingering, esp since former definitions utilized words such as “neuroses.” The process of recovery from TBI definitely involves the help of lawyers like you 🙂

  2. PTSD, TBI, concussion…….. as a advanced level ice hockey coach its always on my mind, if I even suspect a player has taken a hit to the head or been jarred from a worn out mouth piece, he / she is off the ice to the ER and has to have a Dr. note to return, even for the other team during a game. And helmets that’s a whole another story (is today’s standards good enough for 20 + years down the road). Even to play a sport in the scholastic league I coach in you have to be base line tested. We are friends with the parents of Owen Thomas, a Jr. at U Penn who committed suicide because of TBI from football hits to the head in middle school and high school. A game is not worth a life. A very passionate subject for me as a coach.

    • That’s wonderful you’re strict as a coach when it comes to hits to the head. Yes baseline tests need to become mandatory for all levels of sports otherwise how else can we have any measure of changes. Neuroimaging rarely detects much changes. I have mentors who are understandably radical in their views of football, hockey and other high risk sports who believe they should be outlawed until research shows the longterm effects of these hits from childhood and on.

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