Page 42 - Network Magazine Summer 2019
P. 42

        MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES - A SILENT EPIDEMIC
PHILIP M. HOF, HOF & REID, LLC PERSONAL INJURY LAW
We hear more about brain injuries than ever before. After his tour bus was struck by a Walmart tractor-trailer in 2014, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan underwent daily speech, cognitive, occupational and physical therapy for his traumatic brain injury. In an interview a year later, Morgan said, “I have my good days and my bad days, or I forget things,” as he also described recurring headaches. And in sports, with the beginning of the 2013-14 NFL season, an independent neurological consultant stays on the sideline of each team for every game as part of the NFL’s concussion protocol.
About 85% of the time, symptoms from a concussion or minor head trauma (other names for mild TBI) resolve within a short time. More than 50% of these cases result from falls or motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, about 15% of those injured have more persistent effects, some permanent.
MORE COMMON EFFECTS OF MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
Mild TBI has been referred to as a “silent epidemic” because the signs and symptoms are often subtle. Someone feels fine a few weeks after an accident, only to find out from a loved one, co-worker or friend that all is not the same. Many people experience the most common signs of mild TBI, including nausea, persistent headaches, double vision, or dizziness. Problems with concentration and recurrent headaches are common and are viewed by some as the brain "working overtime” to heal completely.
Within months, many generally feel better, but upon returning to the workplace or to school, some are overwhelmed. Unable to remember the name of a co- worker or a simple chemical formula, they have problems with basic cognitive skills. It becomes challenging to learn new material, to concentrate or to pay attention. The
injured person has a low threshold for confusion and thinks more slowly. When using a computer screen, headaches return, often accompanied by problems with double vision or blurriness. Complaints of disbelief range from, “I’ve forgotten my bank account PIN number,” to “I can no longer parallel park.”
PSYCHOLOGICAL DISRUPTION
Not expecting what may have been a relatively mild car crash to cause long-term issues, the mild TBI patient often minimizes the deficits or tries to compensate. In leaving notes all over the house or carrying an index card with the names of co- workers, there is an effort to both dismiss and to compensate. If recall and concentration abilities continue to fail, then frustration and depression can set in. The TBI patient feels socially isolated, not wanting the “secret” to be disclosed. However, the deficits are often apparent to others, and they may encourage the injured to seek further medical evaluation and care.
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