March is Traumatic brain injury (TBI) awareness month.
TBI can be caused by football injuries, motor vehicle wrecks, falls, explosives, gun shot wounds and other violence. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is important to see a doctor after such an injury. Dr. Phil McGraw and his associates of the PsychoNeuroPlasticity (PNP) Center (Lewisville, Texas) also note that long term drug abuse can cause injury to the brain.
I knew one emergency medical technician in Texas who was caring for a transport in the ambulance when the vehicle slammed into a train stopped on the track. The train had no warning lights alerting to the potential danger as the emergency driver rushed to the hospital. As a result this EMT suffered massive head trauma, swelling of the brain, coma, and speech and learning impediments. He had to relearn the alphabet, for example.
TBI may also cause learning and behavioral problems like attention deficit disorder, reasoning, and impulse control. Impulse control can affect how a person manages life and life’s decisions. Anger may be a short-term or long-term consequence of the brain being bruised as it hits the skull. Anger can be an intermittent or a daily occurrence.
Behavioral, neural and psychological testing can help to pinpoint areas to modify and improve outcomes for the TBI sufferer. Cognitive counseling with some medicines can help with results too.
Executive functioning like multi-tasking, problem solving and planning can be impacted as well. Communicating with others maybe a problem like understanding speech or being able to express oneself. Participating in risky behaviors can be seen in some as well. Verbally assaulting others may also be a consequence of TBI.
TBI may also lead to depression, isolation, anger, insomnia, anxiety and lack of empathy for others. The emotions may seem absent or unwound and prolific. The Mayo Clinic also says: “Research suggests that repeated or severe traumatic brain injuries might increase the risk of degenerative brain diseases.” Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia associated with movements may be connected but discoveries are ongoing.
Rehabilitation might include psychiatrists, occupational therapists, neuropsychologists and case managers. It’s important to provide opportunities to understand what has happened and how to better relate with the world after a TBI. These professionals have skills that will help.
For more information about TBI, please visit https://www.biausa.org.
—Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]