“You have a brain injury? You look fine to me.”
This is a common comment that survivors of brain trauma hear all the time. But often people don’t take brain injury or concussions seriously, like its being used as an excuse.
A brain injury is not like a broken arm. Sometimes people have to use a wheelchair for a while or a walker or a cane. Sometimes the injury ends up confining a survivor to a wheelchair or someone has to live in a facility with 24 hour care.
However, a lot of injuries leave no external signs. But the results are very real none the less. Acting impulsively with no foresight is a result which can have many long term detriments. Meet Bob. He was in a bad bar accident in which he had a bad concussion. After his injury his brain changed, he often acted impulsively and spoke too quickly. One night when out with his friends at a sports bar he yells at Dave who is cheering for Bob’s opposing team. Dave is a semi-pro wrestler with a history of violence and criminal activity. Dave’s response is unlikely to be one of compassion & understanding, especially if Bob ‘looks fine’. Bob may find his brain injury further complicated if Dave decides to get violent. This further complication is sometimes referred to as the ‘waterfall effect’. The brain is more vulnerable with each successive blow to the head. This is one reason concussion screening is so prevalent.
Many sports have baseline testing protocols. However, not everyone plays sports & may get concussions from other ways. Concussions are very much in the news and often manifest themselves with headaches and forgetfulness as well. As stated earlier, a brain injury is not like a broken arm. Bones repair themselves relatively quickly and often with no lasting effects. Brain injuries often have life altering results.
So when you meet someone with a brain injury, asking them about their experiences after the incident and how their life is different, will likely go a long way in furthering the relationship than a comment that could be taken as flippant and uncaring. If you have a brain injury, its important to know as much about it as you can.
I am a brain injury survivor & professional therapist with extensive training experience with brain injury clients. Feel free to contact me through http://newhopefs.ca or theravive.com