Even if a person is injured and is taken to the emergency room, initial tests, including x-rays, CT scan and MRI of the brain often come back negative.
Individuals are discharged with Tylenol and told to follow up with doctors on an as needed basis.
NO ONE TAKES IT SERIOUSLY.
“I wish someone, anyone, would have taken the time to explain the injury to me…”
Many individuals do not know they had a traumatic brain injury until much later.
Here are actual quotes of individuals who are currently undergoing treatment with me for their TBI.
How many of these apply to you?
o “I don’t feel like myself…”
o “I’m tired of hearing it’s in my mind!”
o “It’s difficult to be treated like a kid…”
o “Stop telling me to move on!”
o “I am worthless”
o ”I feel paralyzed. Everything else carries on normally…”
o “Even my doctors are ignoring my symptoms…”
o ” I don’t enjoy being pitied…”
o “Anything pisses me off…”
o ”I can’t focus or remember things…”
o “I can freeze (or panic) when I don’t understand something…”
o ”I have severe headaches …”
o ”I am always exhausted…”
o “I don’t know from one moment to the next what is going on?”
o ”I am very grumpy and frustrated all the time…”
o ”I am drinking more alcohol and taking more medicine than I should…”
o ”I’m truly alone in the world…”
o ” I even thought of killing myself…”
o “I’m losing hope that things will ever be normal again…”
o “I need my seclusion. I withdraw from everyone, even my family…”
How many boxes above describe how you often feel?
Do not let anyone tell you that you do not have a brain injury because you never lost consciousness. Just because there is no objective sign of injury to your brain (x-rays, CT scan, MRI), does not mean that you are fine.
Talk to someone, ANYONE, about how you are feeling. You will see that by reaching out for help, you will be able to understand that you are not alone. Let’s Move A Head.
This is a story of a Former Linebacker on the 49ers, who ended up homeless because of a TBI he sustained during his career on the NFL. Unfortunately, I encounter this painful scenario too often in my office. It doesn’t matter who you are: a famous athlete, veteran, or the “ordinary” guy next door- this devastating outcome happens too often.
It is time for people to wake up and take brain injuries seriously!
After a decade of war, America is well schooled on post-traumatic stress, lost limbs and traumatic brain injury, but the most common injury sustained by U.S. troops is literally a silent wound: hearing loss.
Mark Brogan, a retired Army captain, can speak quite personally about almost all of those examples of combat carnage – he suffered a brain injury, a spinal injury and a nearly severed right arm when a suicide bomber on foot detonated his weapon near Brogan six year ago in Iraq.
Mark Brogan sustained a spinal injury, a brain injury, a nearly severed arm – and severe hearing loss – when a suicide bomber blew himself up not far from Brogan in Iraq six years ago.
What does Brogan, 32, consider the worst of the physical trauma? “Hearing loss and the brain injury,” he said from his home in Knoxville, Tenn. He has “profound unusable hearing” in his right ear and severe hearing loss in his left, he said, along with constant ringing, or tinnitus, in his ears.
After the insurgent’s bomb killed a soldier just behind Brogan – along with the person who was wearing the device – other U.S. troops quickly rushed Brogan’s side and saw blood streaming from both ears, he said.
“You’ve been to a concert – you know how your ears are ringing afterward? It’s just like that my entire life,” Brogan said. “A lot of guys get home and they probably don’t even think about getting their hearing checked.
According the Department of Veterans Affairs, the most prevalent service-connected disabilities for veterans receiving federal compensation in 2011 were tinnitus and hearing loss, respectively, followed by PTSD.
“I suspect today’s generation of veterans – those who have been in a combat environment – probably have a higher severity of hearing loss (than past generations), especially with the explosions and the IEDs and the ruptured ear drums they’ve sustained,” said Brett Buchanan, a VA-accredited claims agent with Allsup, a national provider of services with disabilities.
Allsup recently organized a one-day Web expo where younger veterans had a chance to log in and seek advice on how and where to get treatment — including a primer on how to successfully access and steer through the monolithic VA system.
While chatting online with dozens of veterans, Buchanan repeatedly was told about their hearing loss, he said.
To Buchanan, a former Army artillery officer who was among the first wave of U.S. troops to invade Iraq in 2003, the massive scope of the disability is simple to grasp.
“The military, in general, is just a high noise-producing environment,” Buchanan said. In the Navy, where most sailors work only below deck, there is ” the constant drumming of the engines and metal-on-metal noise.”
And in the Army and Marines, many personnel, he added, spend hours inside “military vehicles that are not quiet,” including tanks and personnel carriers.
In addition, service members typically devote time to practicing at firing ranges.
“In those cases, hearing protection negates the loud noise to a large degree. But when you’re in these environments for years upon years, that negation you do with hearing protection may not be enough to prevent injury long term,” Buchanan said.
“Then you get into the combat environment where weapons are going off, explosions are going off. In combat, you can’t call time out and say, ‘Hey, I need to put in my earplugs.’ ”
Service-related injuries in veterans are assessed and rated by VA doctors to determine how much monthly compensation those veterans will be paid for their physical sacrifices. Those ratings span scores of 0 to 100 depending on the severity of the wounds. (Brogan, who due to the partial spinal injury has weakness on his right side and a lack of sensation on his left side – but no paralysis – is classified as 100 percent disabled by the VA, he said).
Through earphone-tone exams and other diagnostic means, the VA also rates hearing loss and tinnitus in veterans who come in for checkups.
“For hearing loss, the ratings I usually deal with for my clients are 0 percent, meaning they’ve had some hearing loss but it doesn’t quite meet the criteria to get the minimum VA disability rating, which is 10 percent,” Buchanan said. “Tinnitus is a simple 10 percent rating. There’s nothing above that. My tinnitus might be worse than yours but there’s no test for that.
For Brogan, post-military life has included mastering subtle tricks and new technology to adapt to his muffled hearing. For example, his phone transcribes conversations as they take place. “And in a loud restaurant with background noise, I pretty much can’t understand anybody’s voice,” Brogan said. “I have to tell somebody, ‘Hey, can you repeat that? Can you speak slower so that I can understand you?’ There are techniques, over time, that you learn.”
But his world is not devoid of pretty sounds. At age 5, he learned the piano. Six years after a bomb bloodied the insides of his ears, someone donated a new piano to the veteran. Brogan tickles those black-and-white keys as physical therapy for his brain and for the weakness in his right hand. He’s mastering covers of popular tunes. And he’s even composed his own melody, captured on video.
Finally, he’s making music again.
“The Monster storm‘s devastation was beyond catastrophic…”
“ The worst damage we have ever seen”
I’ve always assumed that I live in one of the most resilient cities in the world. Yet today, practically everyone I know is shaken by the power of Sandy. It is quite a surreal experience, resembling a Hollywood Movie with costly and high tech digital effects.
In this post, I am going to link the devastation of the storm with that of a brain injury. Why?
The answer is simple. My goal is to help people better understand what everyday life is like for an individual after a TBI.
If you know someone who has a brain injury- PLEASE READ THIS POST.
“I’m tired of people making stupid comments, denying the seriousness and permanence of my condition”…
“They see me dressed up and think all my problems have disappeared…”
Almost every individual who suffers a brain injury feels misunderstood. As a result, they often isolate themselves from their loved ones.
It is very difficult for most people to truly grasp what living with a head injury is like. I am hoping this post will help you understand TBI a little better. Support from friends, family, and professionals is crucial for every person, especially somebody with a TBI.
Think about your brain as a busy city during rush hour. It is crowded with people everywhere trying to get home from work and school.
Now imagine an unpredicted and destructive hurricane. The city comes to a standstill in an instant. This devastating storm represents a brain injury.
The devastation is everywhere! For the next few days, the city faces many challenges.
- Like getting mass transit working again.
- Restoring power.
- Clearing the roads.
- Caring for people without homes or food.
- Getting hospitals and schools reopened.
It is going to take days, if not weeks, before the scope of the storm’s damage will be identified.
Just like the initial fury of the storm eventually subsides, the brain also starts to heal itself even without help.
Things begin to improve very slowly at first. Power and mass transit are eventually restored. Drivers get used to avoiding certain areas and start finding new shortcuts.
The same thing occurs in the brain. The brain is very complex. Various parts of the brain communicate with each other through neural networks (“city roads or bridges”).
If a particular pathway in the brain is impaired, the brain tries to find another route. The information will take longer to travel (be processed) because the brain has to learn how to do things differently now.
Everything you do will require more time and effort after an injury- including your ability to concentrate, remember things and think fast. The brain needs more time to process information. This is why your thinking skills may feel slower since your injury.
It is going to take a long time and a lot of hard work for everything to restore back to normal. There is never going to be complete recovery to the way things were previously.
But, the city is running again!
To recap, both a brain injury and Sandy are out of the ordinary events with huge repercussions. The process of recovery is very long with many ups and downs.
Victims feel frightened, disoriented, helpless, irritable, anxious, frustrated angry and depressed. It is not unusual to have mood swings or erupt in anger. Rigidity and obsessiveness often increase
Individuals and their families have to rebuild their lives. Their losses are too extensive to comprehend. They include the loss of tangible belongings (homes, jobs) as well as losing parts of their self.
Some people admit that the storm or brain injury actually enhanced their lives by forcing them to reevaluate what was important in life.
As I write these words, I can’t stop but think how everything around me seems completely lifeless. It is pitch dark and deadly quiet. By now, the ghastly winds and immediate danger has subsided. If a stranger, unaware of the extenuating circumstances was watching, it looks like a peaceful Hallmark moment!
Tomorrow, I’m probably going to be mildly inconvenienced. I will have to deal with things that I ordinarily don’t have to think about. Like, where am I going to get my first cup of coffee? (High on my priority list). How am I going to fill my car with gas? How will I stay warm?
I think about all the TBI survivors, men, women and children, who struggle like this everyday. An individual with a TBI might appear to have a “good day” here and there, but they still have the same permanent deficits and everyday is a struggle.
Battling PTSD and TBI
One day after 9/11 the government announced that it is providing $100 million to help understand PTSD and TBI.
“PTSD and mTBI are two of the most devastating injuries suffered by our warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan,”