When I was 9 years old, I hit my head on concrete at school playing football during recess. I laid there dazed then got up and went back into school and finished my day. That night I had blurred vision and a headache. I was hospitalized for two weeks, and my mother said I had a blood clot in my brain.
I quit school my sophomore year, have had difficulty holding a job, and have had problems with organization, concentration, focus, and problem solving. I am 59 years old now and sell insurance. I was recently diagnosed with ADD and I am on 10 mg Adderal daily; however, it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference yet. Could a brain injury like mine as a child have had lasting effects, playing a role in my lifelong difficulties? And 50 years after the fact, am I too late to do anything about it?
A traumatic brain injury may result in lifelong cognitive symptoms, such as difficulty paying attention, concentrating, remembering, organizing, solving problems, etc. When children sustain a TBI, their recovery may appear quite good early on, although cognitive skills that typically begin to mature in adolescence and early adulthood may lag behind or fail to fully develop.
Ideally, people with a TBI who have symptoms related to their injury should receive timely treatments that can either reduce or eliminate the symptoms, or assist in developing compensatory strategies to lessen their effect on daily function.
There are several medications that can improve attention, such as but not limited to Adderall. An additional treatment modality is cognitive therapy. While cognitive therapy should be initiated shortly after a TBI, it is possible that treatment many years afterwards may still be beneficial.
Steven Flanagan, MD is professor and chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, and the medical director of the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Langone Medical Center.