The Oz Blog View about stuff while living in the Land of Oz

8Mar/12Off

Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury

    March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and March 21st is National Brain Injury Awareness Day for the Nation. Today I would like to talk about what it is like to live with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I want to education parents, students, coaches, players, officials, and league organizers to the dangers of TBI. Because without being aware of the dangers of TBI, we are setting up people for a life of misery and pain. You must only find the family of a military member who has suffered a TBI and talk with those people about how his/her life has changed.

I will go over just a few of the changes for you today. The first thing you lose as a result of a TBI related injury is your short-term memory. For example, you are sitting in the living-room watching television and need to refill your drink. You walk into the kitchen to get your drink, only to forget by the time your arrive in the kitchen what you are in the kitchen for. So you go back and sit down in the living-room. After you sit down you realize your need some more to drink. A person with a TBI injury will repeat process several times before actually refilling their drink. TBI will normally cause a person problems with remembering information for a short-term basis.

Away to deal with this situation is to create a task list. A person might invest in an electronic device or devices that will allow them to create those task lists. On those electronics you can program reminders for any medications that you take and what time of day that you take the medication. This is a great help in dealing with short-term memory loss, but electronics do not help you pay attention.

The second problem we will look at for a person suffering from a TBI related injury is attention deficit. Some people become more sensitive to movement and some people to sound. While some people become over sensitive to both sound and movement, which means that holding a conversation is very difficult. Or writing a paper, listening to something important to that person, watching a television show, and working have all become harder now because the brain does not tune out sights or sounds properly. A person's brain will normally filter out secondary or unuseful noise or sights, but as a result of a TBI the brain no longer functions properly. The person's brain cannot tune out the child three tables over while out at dinner or not notice a person walking by, without hyper-focusing on the current topic and blocking everything else out.

The major problem with hyper-focusing is that a person must block everything else out. Which means that if someone else tries to get their attention, a lot of effort is required to break the barriers in place. The person that struggles with attention does not want to seem aloof or that they do not care. This is something that the person cannot control because of their brain. Yet, if the person hyper-focuses the problem maybe even worse.

Another serious concern from sustaining a TBI is headaches and to be more specific, migraine headaches. These headaches are serious and a majority of people who suffer a TBI suffer from headaches. Luckily the large majority who have the headaches go away, but there is a percentage of people who have the headaches stay around. A migraine headache will be the end of your productive day and if you have never had one (you get a gold star!!) try to keep it that way. In the news over the past couple of years have been a number of professional athletes who have suffered from migraines after sustaining a TBI. The headaches keep these people from playing their profession, a migraine is not something your want to invest in for the rest of your life.

Now to one of the more serious aftermaths of a TBI, a friend of mine from Church has sustained a TBI from a motorcycle wreck and now has seizures. Yes, if you hit your head hard enough or often enough, you can cause yourself to have seizures for the rest of your life. Depending on how quickly you are treated after you have a seizure and what type of seizure you have, you will start taking medicine. Then you will not be able to drive a car for 6 month from the date of your last seizure. If you continue to have seizures, then you will not be given the privilege of driving a car. One of the crazy part of seizures if that you never know when one will happen: while you are at home, shopping, at Church, or at dinner. If you have seizures you will not be able to go to concerts will flashing lights. Do you want your family or friends to worry about whether or not you are going to have a seizure all of the time?

To the worst part of TBI, people who sustain a TBI often have a change in personality or behavior. The person will not have the same attitude that they have always had, because the connections in their brain have been disconnected. To the dismay of the people around that person, that person a majority of the time does not understand the change in behavior. You can go from being the best person in the world to being the worst person in the world in less than a second as a result of TBI. You can be the happy-go-lucky person one second and the mean guy the next as a result of TBI. TBI is not picky on who get the punishment for their lack of judgment.

A terrible side effect of TBI is unbelief and mistrust. After you sustain a TBI related injury and you start to suffer from the aforementioned symptoms, people will only think that you are faking those symptoms. People will tell you that the brain heals, that you did not use be like this, TBI is not a real thing, or just refuse to accept you for who you are now. Even better are the people that will tell you that use your TBI as an excuse. Those people will tell you, "Every chance you get you blame your brain!" These are the same people who do not understand why you honestly repeat yourself in a conversation. Well, you repeat yourself because you cannot remember if you already said that or not. But you are different now, just accept yourself for the way you are.

From all of the research that I have done into modern culture, being different is good. You can consider yourself a trend setter. Although, I do not think that this is a trend that you want to be in the front of the line for. I will take my place at the back of the line. You should really consider the effects of your choices, because those choices do not just affect you. Parents, coaches, and league organizers, you are responsible for all of those children in your leagues. Please do not take the brain of another lightly.

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**

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