A few years ago a personal injury client of mine experienced typical aches and pains after a car wreck, but noticed that when she went back to graduate school after taking some time off to recuperate, she just couldn’t function.
“Sue” was able to go about her daily activities just fine, but noticed that anything necessitating concentrated thought was difficult. She had a hard time balancing her checkbook, cooking became a chore because she couldn’t remember her family’s recipes and she found herself “spacing out” from time to time. Even though she had lived in the area for many years she found herself forgetting how to drive from Palm Harbor to New Port Richey.
Now Sue knew she wasn’t old enough for Alzheimer’s Disease to be setting in, but this wasn’t normal for her. She was a Ph.D. candidate and was sharp as a tack.
In fact, it was only when Sue resumed her studies at her University that she recognized something was drastically wrong. Maintaining her concentration in class was difficult, reading scholarly text books was beyond taxing and preparation and research for her dissertation became impossible. Having invested tens of thousands of dollars through student loans for her education, Sue became distraught believing that whatever ailed her had derailed her education, her Ph.D. and her career.
As she cried to her neurologist updating him on this problem, this noted area specialist pulled her chart, reviewed his notes, looked up at her and said: “Sue, I think you’ve got closed head trauma.”
He reminded Sue that in the car accident she t-boned another vehicle that cut her off. This impact forced her head forward where it then impacted with the exploding airbag, which forced her head back in a split second where it then hit the headrest. When you consider that your head is essentially a ten pound bowling ball on the end of a flexible rod (your spine), there’s a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on in that instant.
Also, the human brain is free floating in the cranium or skull. So when a person experiences extreme trauma like Sue, not only is her head flying back and forth in a front end impact, but so is her brain within her skull.
Sue sustained an extreme concussion, which, essentially is a bruise on the brain. Depending upon where the trauma occurred, it can affect cognition, concentration, retention of information. It turns out this is exactly what happened to my personal injury client. We all function on a certain frequency. Fixing toast, shaving, driving home is no problem. However, sometimes more complex cognitive functions require that we operate on a higher frequency. This is where there is recognition of a problem.
Fortunately for Sue, her mini-brain damage was temporary and short lived. Still, it took about six months for Sue to resume all normal activities without problems. Others aren’t as fortunate. In addition to the problem experienced by Sue, other difficulties personal injury clients experience with more severe closed head traumas are as follows: Extreme mood changes, short term memory loss, changes in diet (not eating, eating too much), difficulty sleeping and extremes in sleep patterns, aphasia (inability to recall specific words), as well as the concentration issues above.
If you or a loved one is a personal injury client and you experience this, or you see these changes in your loved one, you need to see a good neurologist as soon as possible. We’re seeing more and more news stories about students with concussions from high school and college sports and some of their stories are life altering.