How a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Change Your Life Forever
Most of us have dreams that extend well into the future. We might see ourselves holding a high-profile job, even if we started with various socio-economic disadvantages. We might see ourselves with a family and a balanced home-and-work life.
Such dreams are not beyond the realm of possibility … until you find yourself the victim of a life-altering brain injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result from any number of incidents.
Your brain is a large organ in your head that’s protected by they skull, but isn’t tightly secured by muscles, the way other major organs are. When you’re hit hard in the head or your gets head jostled by a sudden impact, your brain can knock against the inside of your skull with massive force, which may result in a serious injury.
TBI cases are not uncommon, unfortunately. Every 23 seconds a person suffers one somewhere in the U.S. The resulting physical and emotional stress can change one’s life forever. Nearly 1.4 million Americans suffer a TBI each year, and 50,000 people will die from the accident.
If you or someone you know has undergone a TBI and survived, you might wonder what the future will holds. Here are some of the ways at TBI can alter a person’s life.
Chronic Physical Pain
A brain injury will cause severe physical discomfort at the onset, of course, but depending on the nature of the injury, you might experience pain and discomfort for the rest of your life. The impact can cause bleeding and bruising that may never cease, and the result is headaches and migraines that may pose difficulties for as long as you live.
Head injuries can also wreak havoc on other parts of your body. You could suffer stomach problems, sensitivity to light or sound, nerve injury, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), seizures, and fainting or fatigue. The length and severity of such symptoms will depend on the part of the brain that was injured.
Severe Lasting Emotional Problems
The emotional trauma can be one of the most debilitating aspects of your brain injury. People who have suffered such an injury might experience sudden mood swings, sudden anxiety and depression, unexplained emotions that arise without warning, and other surprising issues.
Injuries to the brain can also lead to some strange responses. You might develop a condition that makes you cry or laugh for no reason.
You might also experience anger-management issues, outbursts, or unusual irritability. Controlling your emotions might become a difficult challenge, even in the case of basic emotions such as sadness at a death in the family or happiness when a gift is received.
Vision and Sensory Issues
A study on the impact of TBI on vision at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center in California revealed that about one-third of those who experience a TBI will experience vision problems. The brain is directly connected to your visual faculties, and a traumatic impact can lead to damage to your occipital lobe.
As you recover from the injury, you may find that you suddenly need corrective lenses. You may also find you’re more sensitive to light or colors than you had been in the past.
Although this is not as common in real life as it is in books or movies, a blow to your brain might result in total vision loss. Depending on the nature of the damage, the loss or alteration to your vision can be temporary or permanent.
If your brain injury occurs to the prefrontal lobe, you might experience short-term memory loss, so that it becomes it difficult to remember conversations, phone numbers, and other details throughout the day. Loss of long-term memories is less common because such memories are stored in various places throughout the brain.
You might forget some things that happened a long time ago, but you’re unlikely to experience complete amnesia, although it’s not absolutely out of the question. Like many effects of TBI, long-term memory loss can be permanent or temporary while your brain recovers.
Skills and talents that once came easily to you might not be present when you wake up after your accident. It’s not unusual for people to have to relearn certain skills — even basic ones such as how to hold a spoon, walking, or speaking.
You could end up with a permanent limp or other disability because the accident damaged your motor functions. You might also have difficulty remembering certain things, so any job skills or talents that you’ve learned in recent years might be difficult to recapture.
Reintegrating into the workplace can be a particular challenge (and potentially impossible) for workers who suffer memory loss or disabilities as a result of a brain injury. Experiencing a TBI is one of the scariest and potentially debilitating injuries there is.
It will require a significant adjustment, but with the right help and guidance, you can live a relatively normal life, and still achieve some of the goals and dreams you’ve always had.