Most traumatic brain injuries are misdiagnosed and go without needed therapy because patients and doctors alike are ill-informed about the nature of traumatic brain injuries. More than 120,000 thousand people every year suffer lasting disabling effects from traumatic brain injury (TBI), whether closed or open skull injuries. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has launched programs to educate about, prevent and improve treatment of TBIs. College and university professionals, like L. Syd Johnson of Michigan Technological University, who have studied the horrific effects of TBIs (also called concussions) in sports, are calling for major changes to how contact sports (i.e., football, hockey, rugby) are played.
TBIs, whether sustained in car accidents, accidental falls, sports collisions, or any other way, can permanently or temporarily impair cognitive function so that professional writers and students find that all of a sudden they cannot string seven intelligible written words together. Others find they cannot speak seven intelligible words in a sentence. Still others find they are confused and unsure in their careers in which they’ve excelled for thirty years. Still others find they have memory loss of varying degrees ranging from needing “Fifty First Dates” to mistaking the kitty water bowl for their own drinking glass to forgetting that winter coats are worn to keep warm.
As David Lenrow, M.D., of TraumaticBrainInjury.com, specifies, some other symptoms of often misdiagnosed or discounted TBIs are:
- Loss of confidence
- Poor concentration
- Loss of balance
- Emotional disturbance and mood changes
- Feelings of depression
- Slowness in thinking
- Loss of memory
- Loss of or impairment to cognitive function
It is said that TBI therapists can pinpoint the area(s) of the brain that has been damaged by what skills or cognitive processes are impaired or altered. Brain injury in TBIs (apart from additional injuries in open TBIs) comes from the action of the brain crashing against the interior of the skull. The collision motion crashes the brain forward and back against the skull, with the direction(s) of impact, until the momentum of the crash comes to rest.
As stated by BrainLine.org, this to and fro crashing can result in bruised and swelling brain tissue, lacerations and bleeding in the brain, nerve damage (due to shearing forces: disrupted neuron signal transfers caused by broken or damaged neurons), and in auxiliary damage like neurological chemical imbalance, fever and seizures.
The CDC calls its free online educational program “Heads Up” and offers one course for professionals and one for students and schools. Though TBIs occur in greater per capita concentration in sports, they are no less disastrous when sustained outside of sports. Therapy can reduce or eliminate the effects of TBI through the generation of compensatory neuro-pathways if undertaken directly after the injury. Large numbers of people, though, do not seek therapy for months or even years after a TBI because 15 percent of TBI suffers have symptoms that continue for two or more years. Our best means of defense against TBI (aside from not getting into collisions) is to know about TBI symptoms and their duration, the possibility of faulty diagnoses, and the availability of TBI therapy.
Sources: Michigan Technological University. “Hockey and football concussions: Time for big changes.” September 7, 2012. Web. November 14, 2012.
“About Traumatic Brain Injury.” BrainLine.org. Web November 14, 2012.
“Mild TBI Symptoms.” Editor, David Lenrow, M.D.. TraumaticBrainInjury.com. Web November 13, 2012.
“Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. November 14, 2012.
“Concussion and Mild TBI.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. November 14, 2012.