Cognitive Changes


DEAR PAT:

I was in a serious car accident and sustained a major blow to my head. The CT scan came out negative, but I had a lump literally the size of an egg on my forehead, two black eyes and bruises to the rest of my body and head. I have been evaluated by a neuropsychologist who states that there is nothing wrong with me that was not present before the accident, and that I am complaining of problems for which there is no physical evidence. The neuropsychologist has many academic degrees, so I am questioning myself! It is so hard to put my finger on what is wrong, but it takes me ten times longer to do things now than before the injury. My house used to be immaculate and now it's a disaster. Is it possible that this professional, who is apparently highly trained (and has written books and given lectures), is wrong?

DEAR PAT:

My 16-year-old son had a moderate brain injury about 18 months ago as the result of a car accident. He still struggles for word identification. Some words he appears unable to retrieve, no matter how hard he tries. These are words which he did not frequently use before the accident. Is this a learning impairment that he might overcome with repetition, or are there some words that may never become part of his vocabulary?

DEAR PAT:

About 10 years ago, I fell out of a truck that was towing a camper. I was run over by the back wheel of the truck and had numerous cuts and bruises. I was very lucky to be alive! The most serious issue after my accident was a "personality change." Everyone noticed it! My sister said it was like I was a stranger! My taste in food, music, and clothes changed. I even lost a fear of heights I always had! Is this type of change common?

DEAR PAT:

I had a TBI in October 1996. The thing I notice now is that I obsess over certain things. For example, I’ll take a bottle of Windex and some paper towels in my room and start cleaning EVERYTHING. What’s up with that? I mean it’s bad enough to have obsessions, but getting into a cleaning frenzy?

DEAR PAT:

My dad is a young 65 and had a subarachnoid hemorrhage in November 98. He’s spent the last 6 months in this great transitional living center for brain injured people. He’s almost ready to go "home" and herein lies the problem. Before his brain hemorrhage he was extremely independent. He managed investment property for his family. He put over 70,000 miles on his car last year. He divorced my mom and has had no permanent home for the last couple of years. Right now he has a very structured environment. He’s great in the moment and doesn’t confabulate any more. However, he’s been obsessing over opening his own rehab center (brings up the subject every 10 minutes as if we’ve never discussed it). We have to remind him that he can’t run a business if he can’t remember what happened the day before. The senior day programs are not stimulating enough for my dad. He has to do something with more purpose than playing cards. My aunt said she’d love to live with my dad, but doesn’t know what he’ll do every day. My sister and I also live in San Francisco. Are there any programs in the San Francisco area for brain injured people like my dad? That is, for an active, capable person who needs a little extra guidance, compassion, and consideration of his deficits? Thanks so much for your help.

DEAR PAT:

I have written to you before and was very encouraged by what you wrote back. I had a CHI on July 30, 1998, and I'm still trying to figure things out. It's so hard for me to be around people that I don't know for fear that I may seem "strange" to them, etc. Even to be around people that I know, but have not seen me or spoken to me since the accident. I feel so on edge, afraid that they are looking for deficits, or just maybe trying to see what's different. So many people are not at all educated about brain injuries and think that anyone with a brain injury is instantly impaired, or has mental problems. That is true in some cases, but definitely not all. I've been through a lot since all of this happened, and I feel like I've come out of it wiser. I've noticed that the more hardships people have to go through, the more levelheaded they seem to be. Somehow, I have to get over this fear of being around new people. Half the time I feel like I need to explain what happened, when I truly know that it's not necessary. It's so hard to put these tense moments into words. How should I get over this?

DEAR PAT:

I am new to the site, looking for information. When I was nine (I Am 37) I suffered a massive head trauma to the back of my skull on the left (near center) part of my head... I was struck by a falling bolder in a Hiking accident... It broke the skull and the bone was pressing down on the skull... It took quite a while to get down off the mountain and I spent 3 days in a coma and the surgeon told my parents I was going to die. He reconstructed the bone and stitched me up and you know I woke up! Now I have never had follow up tests, but I am a real slow reader and I can not type with out looking at the keyboard (and then I am REAL Slow) Often getting letters out of order in words... I have never been able to match Music Notes to finger positions, even though I can play a few instruments by ear, and can read Music... or at least used to try... I have had difficulty with dyslexia my whole life... I cannot remember most people’s names or phone numbers (even the ones I call a lot.) I am an artist and very "right-brained" I wonder if there are programs in my area that might evaluate my damage and perhaps take me on as a patient. I am also interested in possibly participating in Human research projects that might help re-stimulate my damaged memory centers, or even might be interested in using my existing damage to get around the FED limitations to working on "Healthy" tissue. I know this might seem like a lot to ask about, but my request is sincere and I am not having much luck connecting to anywhere.

DEAR PAT:

I was in a coma for a month and a half from an auto accident. It happened this February. It is hard for me to explain what I am going through. I was working on a Masters degree at Texas Tech after graduating from Louisiana Tech. I am a 36-year-old male I just went to college because after 13 years I finally got out of the Navy. My long-term memory is real good but my short-term memory is bad. I feel like my wife has to put up with another child. I have a quicker temper than I did before the accident and I have a real problem tolerating my kids. I am presently out of rehab and I don't know what to do. Any ideas you have would be greatly appreciated Thank you.

DEAR PAT:

My father was recently in an automobile accident where he suffered brain trauma, I have many concerns. He is very lucky to have lived because his BAL was three times the legal limit. From this accident, he suffered three skull fractures and two hematomas, one on each side of the brain. He was never in a comatose state. It is 2 1/2 weeks later and he talking to people and is even remembering things from the past. He now has a very short attention span and occasionally has childish spells. I am wondering what type of behavior is typical for people who have suffered basilar and occipital fractures, and what role his hematomas may play a part in his recovery. I must also add that there have been a series of CT and the hematomas have gone down, the doctors expect them to take care of themselves, although later it may be necessary to drain them. Do you have any advice? Thank you!

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