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Long-term problems of head-injury

30 Dec

Here is a glimpse into the reality of brain injury.  Another TBI patient has shared this clear and concise writing about brain injury.  It was stated that the information was written by a physician, but I do not have the author’s name.  You will find by reading this that it’s a “snapshot into your troubled reality following brain injury”.  

I also suggest that you  check out Steve’s site, a TBI survivor at http://philippinewanderer.org.   In the following writing please take note of the final Injured Spirit writing.  Injured Spirit sums up how traumatic brain injury affects the individual.

LONG-TERM PROBLEMS OF HEAD-INJURY

Brain Injuries do not heal like a broken leg or a cut-vein. If a broken bone is reset properly and kept immobile for a certain amount of time, predictable healing will occur. A bleeding wound on the skin will clot, form scar tissue, and heal, often leaving no sign of the wound.

Brain Injuries, on the other hand, are unpredictable. Even with modem diagnostic equipment, doctors have difficulty assessing exactly which components of the brain have been injured and to what extent. There is no way to know how quickly or completely a person can recover from a brain injury. Each case is unique.

Many of the long term problems produced by traumatic brain injury are linked to the functions of the area of the brain that is injured. These are known as localized effects. To understand what can go wrong, it is first necessary to understand something about the geography of the brain.

The brain is made up of three main parts: the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. The cerebrum is the largest section of the brain. It is divided into two halves or hemispheres. The left hemisphere tends to direct activity on the right-side of the body and the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. Most of the activity performed by the cerebrum takes place on its surface, an area known as the cortex.

The cerebrum has four major regions, or lobes. The frontal lobe controls emotions, personality, voluntary muscle control, and the highest intellectual activities such as problem solving, creative thought, judgment, speech, and reasoning. The activity in the frontal lobe carries the primary responsibility for, inhibiting impulses, providing motivation for action, and maintaining appropriate social behavior. Among other things, frontal-lobe damage can take a toll on a person’s coordination.

The parietal lobe stores information gained from the senses of touch, taste, smell and hearing. It also interprets language and is, therefore, used in reading and mathematics. Injury to the parietal lobes can lead to loss of taste, smell, or hearing. The occipital lobe is the vision-interpreting center. Double vision can be a long term consequence of damage to occipital brain cells.

The cerebellum is smaller and is located at the back of the head. It is responsible for remembering habitual muscular movements (such as shoe tying and catching a ball), and helps in maintaining balance. Destruction of cells in the cerebellum can affect balance and disrupt a person’s ability to perform basic motor skills.

The brain stem is located at the base of the brain. The stem connects the brain to the main power line of the nervous system-the spinal cord. It controls consciousness and arousal and coordinates vital unconscious activities of the body such as heartbeat, blood flow, breathing, swallowing, appetite and thirst. Brain stem damage can affect any of these vital functions.

Disruption of the electrical and chemical balances within the brain may produce seizures, especially in children.

ALTERING WHO YOU ARE

Some localized brain damage alters the basic mental and emotional makeup of the victim. This is especially likely to occur when the frontal lobe is damaged. This area of the brain directs many of the key functions that give a person identity: personality, inhibition, judgment, reasoning, and problem solving. Other brain functions essential to our makeup, such as memory and emotions, may be diffused throughout the brain. Loss of these functions is not as easily identified with injury to a particular area of the brain.

A brain injury can rearrange many of the traits that define who you are. It can change the way you act, how you react to situations, and your ability to think, joke, cry, and love. It may change so many of the basic parts of a person’s individuality that family, friends, and even the individual no longer recognize the person they thought they knew. Even a mild alteration in the activity of the brain can influence how a person responds to life.

About 80 percent of people with brain injuries recover all of their physical functions within a year. Yet many of them continue to encounter cognitive,behavioral,and emotional problems.

COGNITIVE PROBLEMS

The term cognitive is used to describe brain processes associated with learning and knowing. The most common long-term cognitive problems affect memory.Although long-term amnesia is rare, people with brain injuries often have difficulty remembering recent experiences or new information because the brain loses some of its capacity to store or recall new information.

The problem is far more serious than the occasional frustrating or embarrassing memory lapses that we all experience. Because victims may be unable to remember what they have been told or have read just moments before, they may be unable to receive an education, complete job training, keep appointments, remember assignments, meet deadlines, or even keep up with daily routine tasks. At worst, short-term memory loss can trap people in a state of continual confusion. At best, it can erode self-confidence. Disruptions of the nerve network in the brain frequently reduce the brain’s efficiency. As a result, the ability to concentrate may also be affected. People with head injuries may tire easily, have trouble staying focused, and become frustrated. They may leave tasks unfinished, either because they cannot stay focused on the task, or they lack the energy to keep going when the task becomes challenging. Coping with stress is especially difficult.

Brain injury can cause disruption of a variety of cognitive skills. Long-term problems of this nature may include learning disorders and problems with reading, computation, speaking, processing information, and understanding abstract concepts. People with head injuries may process information more slowly, and thus have difficulty following rapid changes of subject or dealing with events that occur suddenly.

One common intellectual challenge for people with brain injuries is performing executive functions -the ability to understand a situation, organize a plan of action to deal with it, and evaluate and adjust the plan as the need arises.

Brain injuries frequently affect an individual’s ability to think ahead and to understand the possible consequences of a planned action. Brain injuries may also limit a person’s ability to learn from success and failure.

BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS

The most devastating of the possible long-term effects of brain injury are behavioral changes. People known for a lively sense of humor may find they have lost their timing. On the other hand, previous personality characteristics may become more pronounced. For example, a person who was careful about keeping a clean house before an accident may become obsessed with the idea of cleanliness. Children and adolescents may take a little longer to shed immature habits.

While some behavioral changes can be attributed to increased anxiety and irritability over memory loss and lack of focus, more sweeping personality changes may be caused by frontal lobe damage. Behavioral changes are particularly aggravating because they tend to become more evident just as physical injuries are improving. In one study, families of people who had experienced brain injuries 5 years before reported that behavioral changes caused more stress than any other effect of the injury.

Some behavioral problems, such as impaired judgment, are closely related to cognitive problems. A person with a brain injury may use poor logic or interject statements that have nothing to do with the topic. He or she may become intrigued by ideas that make no sense. Understanding relationships between cause and effect may be difficult. He or she may be unable to show the appropriate degree of response to various situations. In one case, an Arizona man who had experienced a brain injury called police to report a missing cereal bowl! In considering solutions to problems a person with a brain injury may show a glaring lack of insight, overlook important considerations, and reach conclusions that the facts do not support. He or she may have particular difficulty looking ahead to future consequences of actions. This can lead to decisions that endanger safety or run headlong into financial and legal problems. As one neuropsychologist explains, “Because patients with brain injury can act impulsively, intrusively, or just plain bizarrely, some may get in trouble with the law when their behavior is misunderstood.” (I will get into that at a later date.) Frontal lobe damage may also affect the development of social skills.

A person’s brain maintains smooth interaction with other people by sending nerve messages that inhibit actions. The key to getting along well with others is the ability to suppress thoughts, actions, and emotions that society considers inappropriate.

For example, suppose you are in hurry and a crowd of people are blocking your way. A natural response is frustration and anger, which may trigger into knocking down everyone in your way. While this may be the most effective way of speeding up your progress, it is socially inappropriate. The frontal lobes suppress the impulse until you have had time to consider a more appropriate response to the problem. People who experience brain injuries may display impulsive behavior that puts them in dangerous situations and demonstrates a lack of consideration for the feelings of others.

Loss of inhibition is especially heartbreaking when it concerns emotions – another crucial part of a person’s makeup that the brain controls. Injury to the emotion-controlling process of the brain can send people on an endless, wild roller- coaster ride of feelings and outbursts. They may laugh outrageously at things that no one else considers funny, or cry over a trivial matter. Such people may lose their temper easily and swing wildly from one mood to another.

Personality changes can also be caused by damage to parts of the brain that influence the ability to be flexible. This leaves the victim unwilling to compromise with others or to adjust to new situations.

Thus, loss of inhibiting ability can reduce a mature, dependable person into a rigid, obnoxious, immature person with little ability to control his or her own emotions or actions. Family members and friends who would be willing to sacrifice a great deal to care for a person with virtually any other serious health problem find it impossible to tolerate personality changes. They may become angry at rude behavior and embarrassed by inappropriate actions. They may feel loss of affection for this inconsiderate “stranger” who bears so little resemblance to the person they knew and loved. Long-term studies have found that, due to their changed behavior, most people who experience severe traumatic brain injuries lose their former friends within a year.

Adults with personality alterations caused by brain injury are often unable to maintain ties with friends and work associates. They may be less polished or courteous,or crude in their language and actions. Brain injuries can alter the very values on which victims base their behavior. Isolated from others, bewildered by their own actions, and shamed or disgusted by the type of person they have become, such individuals fall easy prey to depression.

INJURED SPIRIT

Everyone who suffers a serious illness or injury that results in long-term health problems undergoes a period of adjustment. The adjustment can be particularly frightening for the people who experience the lingering effects of brain injury. They must try to regain mastery over their altered lives with a control center that does not work properly. Sometimes the damage is severe enough that the brain cannot provide reliable control.

People who lose the use of both legs and arms have to face new challenges, but at least each is the same person as before. Nothing about them has changed except for the loss of a specific body part or specific function.

People suffering severe brain damage must come to grips with a loss that strikes closer to the very essence of who they are. A part of their former identities may be gone, replaced by something else. The comments of people who have had to cope with such a loss demonstrates their bewilderment.”I missed me!” “I felt as though a stranger had taken over my body.” “I can remember looking into the mirror and not recognizing the reflection.” The loss of identity and loss of control over their lives can have tragic consequences.

In an extreme example, a young Montana woman committed suicide after months of struggling with thought functions and behavior that had been disrupted by a serious brain injury caused by a traffic accident. “Over and over her lack of judgment and capacity for forethought led her into desperate predicaments,” her parents wrote later. “Afterwards she could see what she had done and her self-hatred increased, but she could never seem to learn from her experience. “

To make matters even more difficult, people with brain injuries often struggle with their new situations in an environment filled with ignorance and even hostility. Because their injuries are often hidden from sight, other people expect them to act as if they were perfectly healthy. Instead of realizing that this behavior is accident-related, others may attribute it to immaturity and weakness of character. Authorities may not give them the help and understanding they need.

No wonder some medical experts refer to people with brain injuries as the “walking wounded.” As one expert put it, people who have been head-injured are hurting, suffering pain beyond human comprehension.”

What did you find most helpful in reading this writing on “Long-term problems of Head Injury”?  If anyone is aware of the author of this article please let me know so I can put a name to this writing.

 

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23 responses to “Long-term problems of head-injury

  1. Let's Move A Head

    December 30, 2012 at 10:06 am

    This is excellent. It addresses so many different factors of TBI and is written so well. Many of my clients have been writing their stories. Your blog will be very useful for them. You can check out some of the stories at http://letsmoveahead.net. Please tell me waht you think. Thanks, Heidi

     
    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Heidi, I have checked out your site and I think the format and materials are all exceptional to educate, understand, and offer TBI survivors a great resource! I have spent some time reading personal stories and other information at Let’s Move A Head, added your site to my blogroll, and referenced my readers in the post “Another Day and Another Year” January 2, 2013. Take care and stay safe, Edie

       
  2. philippinewanderer

    December 30, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Good idea Edie asking the readers if they knew the author…I honestly couldn’t come up with that seemingly simple way of reaching out and perhaps finding an answer…It is a marvelous article!

     
    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      Thank you for providing me with this excellent writing. I know everyone will be waiting to see your story in an upcoming post. I hope someone does know who wrote this article on Long-term problems of head-injury. Take care and stay safe.

       
      • philippinewanderer

        January 3, 2013 at 12:25 am

        Actually Edie, this article came from a book this doctor had written about his son who suffered a tbi. I returned to the library where I checked the book out, but none that they had sounded the least bit familiar to me. I read the book sometime in the 90’s…Good night Edie.

         
      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        January 6, 2013 at 5:34 pm

        Thank you for the information. Maybe someone will come across the book and let us know. Sounds like it was a good one!

         
  3. Three Well Beings

    December 31, 2012 at 1:34 am

    This is a wonderfully comprehensive article and description of the related issues to head injury. I think the most important part of the article is describing the reasons behind changes in personality and lack of inhibition. It would be helpful for friends and family with loved ones with TBI to read this and be better prepared to support their loved ones. I wish you a very happy New Year, Edie. The work you’re doing in contributing to understanding TBI is so important. I hope you will be able to maintain the energy and commitment. You are a wonderful resource. oxo

     
    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Your comments are always constructive. Since you know someone with a relatively new TBI you give an entirely different perspective. `If there is anything you believe would be most helpful, feel free to offer additional suggestions. Safe, Healthy, and Happy New Year!

       
  4. Jess

    May 8, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Thank you for writing such an amazing article. I don’t have a TBI per my CT scans however, I did have a severe concusion. Twelve months ago I was in a bad horseback riding accident where I had complete loss of conciousness and total amnesia with my memories returning slowly over the last year. The brain is a fragile and unpredictable body part and even though I didn’t have a head trauma, my severe concussion still resembles quite a bit of what you are discussing in your article. I seem to others to be fully functioning and normal (I talk normal, look normal and act pretty normal) but, almost a year after the accident and I am still struggling to get my reading comprehension back to normal, my immediate and short term memory are nearly non-existent and several other TBI like symptoms are present. The people I spend the most time with have admitted that I ask the same question multiple times in a row and I don’t remember asking or what their answer was and I have no ability to memorize anything! Not even three items on a grocery list. When I have mentioned these concerns to friends and family they just tell me that lots of people are forgetful and its not a big deal but, I know how I used to be! I think the hardest part is the lack of support and understanding… its really the most traumatizing to wake up one day and just be different, not have the same you that you can rely on… and to keep wondering when things will be normal again. Thank you for encouraging me to call my doctor and see about getting some rehabilitation help and that I’m not alone!

    Blessings!

     
    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      May 8, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      A horseback riding accident with loss of consciousness, amnesia, and other problems is a significant and serious injury. CT scans and MRIs can be normal in spite of serious injury. With cognitive retraining you can recover. It may take some time, but there are many ways to compensate. I must agree, the “lack of support and understanding” is difficult when your life is turned upside down and until the brain is injured few people truly understand. Don’t let others minimize your problems. Maybe some people “forget”, but there is a drastic difference with brain injuries versus “normal forgetfulness” … if it’s really ever “normal”.

      Don’t give up. Let me know how you are doing and when you start rehabilitation. Keep me posted how things are moving along for you. Take care and stay safe.

       
      • powergomez

        July 2, 2016 at 6:21 pm

        UPDATE: Chris Power-Gomez, five-years after accident….

        On January 16, 2013 at 8:44 am I wrote this:

        I lived a life with a 155 iq. Was considered a creative genious, then with the inception of the new economy i shifted to the business strategy side and became CCO… Chief Creative officer. I lived that life unfilled two years ago, when iwas struck down by an.84 passenger bus traveling at an estimated 30mph! I was a pedestrian walkingnin the cross walk…. on a green. I crushed through the windshield, then was.launched in the air… seen ten-feet higher than the bus… stil on acent. Then I was found forty-feet down the road: presumed dead.
        I survived… now intelligence: they say and ibelieve it,TBI victims become ‘hyper intelligent’ through a.major part.of recovery…. but it tends to be like a dog chasing its tale…. working and trying too hard to sjow your fine…… I can tell you you will neveragain be a free-wheeling Intelect. As hard as you try there are inherant deficets in processing and word finding…. and the dreaded anxiety right when you think you’ve mastered it.
        But rock on TBI soldiers… nobody can modify like us….
        We are the new age warriors!
        CHRIS POWER-GOMEZ
        But rocknon.
        But rock on fellow TBI soldiers! We can.odkfy

        February 26, 2016 at 8:44 pm

        …Somewhat embarrassed by the writing, spelling and grammar, I’m still proud of the core of this message. Since then, I have rebuilt mine and my family’s lives, and we are thriving, as a family and individuals.

        As I’m sure everyone connected with this blog understands, every member of the Power-Gomez family was greatly affected by the accident, and the subsequent result – TBI. To update on-that-end, my two kids Josh and Heather (now 21 & 23) are living the life young adults their age should be.

        My son, a baseball player going into his senior year of high school when the accident occurred, is now a baseball trainer and coach, and a part-owner of the facility in Westlake Village, CA from which he trains. An interesting point; that facility is where I was walking when struck-down. He has dreams of someday coaching in MLB.

        My daughter attends Cal Lutheran University, and is presently studying in London with ISA. She too has dreams for her future, in television production.

        My wife Michele had a very tough time with instantly losing her husband, and after twenty-five years of marriage as a stay-at-home wife and mother, being told to get a job… at Taco Bell if necessary. She had to be the mom, the dad, and help me on my quest to become whole again. Today she is again the matriarch, guiding each of us through life. She does carry some residual issues attributed directly to the experience – manic depression.

        I have come to this point with extraordinary growth. I still have no memory of most of my life, issues with functionality, emotion and pain…. but I am here, being every-bit a father and husband… as best I can. I have nearly debilitating anxiety, which doesn’t allow me to travel, or attend anything with a large audience, go to movies, the mall, etc.

        I have rebounded with nearly every aspect of my life except one – professionally. That I am proud to say I am hitting head-on now, with a formal re-entrance to my profession. I have positioned this endeavor as ‘Re-Vitality’ as I think that accurately portrays me and my position in this newfound life I lead.

        That endeavor can be seen at the online presentation at Re-Vitality.com .

        That’s it for now…. and again rock-on TBI victims!

        Chris Power-Gomez

         
  5. Dik Burns

    September 11, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Hello, I love the easy writing and the description of my sons changed life is written right in there.
    Yes , He has diffuse axonel injury with frontal lobe injury from a t-bone car crash as he was in the back of the mini van that was hit, he was 10 at the time and is 20 now.
    Everything that is described in the article, I can recognize in him and then some, my biggest issue about the accident at the moment and besides his 24 hr supervision of him is the accident benefit and rehabilitation part of his catastrophic injury claim. The laws in Canada ( Ont. ) are such that there is 1 M for attendant care and 1 M for rehab, but because of the circumstances of his injury, it is difficult to put a rehabilitation treatment plan together that he will cooperate with, We are down to a case manager and she is running out of options for him, he has been seen by a behavior therapist and we are waiting for the recommendations at this time but my son doesn’t think anything is wrong and everything is ok, it is not but how do I get him to cooperate with the case manager?

     
  6. Rick

    June 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    The most difficult things for me are looking in mirror and not knowing how I got so many years older, not knowing what’s missing; and, trying to balance working, being employed, being part of group while appearing normal and also making people understand that I am head injured and not as “healthy” as my physical appearance conveys.

     
  7. Wendall Perkins

    October 18, 2015 at 2:29 am

    I suffered a TBI back in 1989 during a car accident. I spent almost a month comatose. Following waking up from the coma I immediately went into a rehab center in Amarillo Texas. General rehab started out with physical, occupational, learning how walk and talk correctly and other therapy’s for things that go along with a head injury. I would mention the other therapies but I can’t remember them. Here it is almost 30 years later and I really see the effects from the TBI and started looking for reasons for the changes. Every since the accident family and friends has spoke to a change in me that I didn’t really notice until the last few years. Now the changes have really starting to show personality changes since I don’t get along with many people. The loss of ambition has diminished and hard to recover even know I feel like I try it just gets pretty depressing sometimes when it seems like you just can’t get to where you want to be. All that considered I just wanted to say thanks for the article because looking through the many things I can try to find on the internet to explain to me what’s going on this was a welcome reminder to the effects from the injury that I was told would be there more than likely. The article has instilled new hopes that I can find more info explaining what has happened, as well as reinvigoration to hopefully finding a way to help myself with what is going on. Thanks for your time and efforts to post this article for others to read because I found it very helpful. Any other insite or info you have might be helpful in this little quest I have to help me understand better myself while I go through these changes and would appreciate all things you offer. Thank you once again

     
  8. Linda A

    May 15, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you.

     
  9. Robin Dismuke

    May 30, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    TBI 2006 Brain Anerysm 2012/ feel alone All the time like no one joves me as I am now just alot……

     
  10. Robert m love

    July 4, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Wow 10 years ago i fell 35ft off of a ladder , landed on the right side of my fore head at work on the job site. I landed on concrete. I dont remember much after that . The next time i opened my eyes , it was 2 weeks later , in intensive care , broken jaw , hands tied to the bed. Evidently i had a 13 hour brain surgery to repair the blood vessels i broke and to relieve the hematoma that started. I was 29yrs old.
    After this article , now i can see the long term affects , with memory and lack of empathy and the searching for the old me , i cant stop crying . Im 40yrs old and i feel like i am 50. My shortterm memory sucks , my spouse thinks im all healed up , but i tell her i dont feel like me . The anxiety and ptsd have preventing me from driving , holding a relationship and daily life choices.
    I definately think brain injuries are very serious and should be treated by the individual case.

     
  11. Jackie

    August 8, 2016 at 6:30 am

    My son had a very bad concussion of the frontal head and temporal area when he was 15. He is now 22 and exhibits much of what has been discussed. How can I determine if it’s related to this previous injury?
    Thank you. Worried mom.

     
  12. Aengus Shanahan

    December 11, 2016 at 6:03 am

    This has described my life since my operation in a way I am completely incapable of doing. I am printing this to show my family. Thank you.

     
  13. ACIE COLBERT

    December 13, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    I’m just worried about the headache S that I have everyday when will they go away.

     
  14. Patsy Harmsen

    December 17, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Wonderful article, thank you from Tasmania from someone 22 years post brain injury from a burst aneurysm!

     

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