Traumatic Brain Injury Basics

Michael Paul Mason, Brain Injury Case Manager
TBI Basics

Overview

Doctors say that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a catastrophic condition, like burns, amputations, and spinal cord injuries. But TBI is different. It upsets life on multiple levels: physical, psychological, social, and even spiritual. TBI affects the roots of who we are — our ability to think, to communicate, and to connect with other people. For approximately 85 percent of people with TBI, those problems eventually resolve, but the remaining 15 percent have lasting difficulties. If you’re dealing with lingering symptoms of a TBI, or if you’re caring for a loved one, it can help to understand more about the wide range of challenges that TBI can pose.

A tap on the head, and anything can go wrong. Anything usually does go wrong. Light taps — mild TBI — can result in daily headaches, agitated moods, or periods of sleeplessness. Stronger jolts may cause you to forget your name, or make you think you’re someone different. When you tell someone you’re sad, you may unintentionally yell. A TBI can introduce a frustrating amount of confusion and uncertainty into your life

TBI by the Numbers

TBI has a way of affecting everything and everyone in your life. It can make family life tough, and it can seriously impede your ability to work. It can affect the relationships you have and make it harder to make new friends. In the United States, TBI is a quiet crisis. As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with a permanent disability resulting from a brain injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 2.8 million Americans report a traumatic brain injury each year. Fifty-six thousand people die from it. Over a two hundred eighty-two thousand people are hospitalized. Some of them go home only to discover they no longer have a sense of smell or taste, or that their sleeping habits have changed, or that they can’t seem to do their job anymore. 

If you look at the numbers a little differently, they’re even more upsetting. So many Americans become disabled from a brain injury that each decade they could fill a city the size of Detroit. Seven of these cities are filled already. A third of their citizens are under fourteen years of age. Currently, there are at least 125,000 people with a brain injury so severe that it requires extended hospital care — a service difficult to find and even harder to access. Fortunately, the majority of people who experience TBI will be able to return to a productive life once they receive appropriate treatment

A Closer Look at the Brain

Even though the numbers are large, it’s important to remember that TBI is a human injury. It has a way of showing us that life is fragile and precious. Because the brain is a complicated network of cells, each injury is as distinctive as the person it affects. Our skulls are only a quarter inch thick, although male skulls are a little thicker, which is lucky considering the fact that men tend to get TBI more often than women. The skull is both protective and restricting; it is the brain’s best defense but also its greatest risk in times of trauma.

Surrounding the brain is an almost rubbery, clear layer of tissue called the dura mater. It helps protect the brain from moving around too much. Beneath the dura mater is another layer called the arachnoid layer, which looks and feels like wet cotton candy. The dura mater, the arachnoid layer, and another layer — the pia mater — all form what is known as the meninges, which keeps the brain floating inside the skull. If these layers get infected, ripped, or torn, it can cause serious damage to the brain

Types of TBI

Every brain injury is different, but there are two basic types: open head injuries and closed head injuries. Open head TBIs are a frightening mess. Whether the injury comes from a bullet, a baseball bat, or a high-speed collision, the result is always chaotic and distressing. The scalp bleeds a lot when it is cut, and when the skull is cracked or penetrated, pieces of it can get lodged in the brain. Because the brain is such a complicated tangle of tissue, it’s extremely tricky to remove objects lodged inside a brain. That’s why we put brain surgery right up there with rocket science in our everyday language.

In a closed head injury, nothing penetrates your skull, but a closed head injury can be just as complicated and vicious as an open head injury, sometimes more so. During a closed head injury, the brain may slam against one portion of the skull, then bounce against the opposite side of the wall. Doctors call that a “coup-contracoup” injury, where two injuries occur from a single blow. One of the most common types of closed head injury is a concussion — a strong blow from an external force. If a person’s head is whipped around, a small tearing effect called shearing occurs throughout the brain, resulting in a diffuse axonal injury. Axons are the hairlike extensions of nerve cells that transmit messages, so in a diffuse axonal injury, the messages either get mixed up, or they don’t come through at all

Treating and Living With TBI

An injured brain also has a tendency to swell, so if there is no room in the skull to expand, the swollen brain may start pushing against the eye sockets. The optic nerve eventually gets pinched, and eyesight is affected. A surgeon might drill holes into a skull to test cranial pressure. If the swelling is too extreme, the only option is to create an escape hatch by sawing away a portion of the skull.

The neurosurgeon is in charge of protecting the brain through medical procedures, but the survivor has to manage life with the effects of the TBI. Everyone reacts differently, depending in part on the severity of the injury, the quality of their care, and the strength of the social network around them. Many survivors feel pulled in different directions, feeling at times that the injury has made them less than what they were, and at other times that they can integrate TBI into their lives in a positive way. People with TBI are forced to confront a whole series of personal questions: How does my injury really affect me? Can I regain the things I’ve lost? What am I other than my brain? How can I make the most of my life?

Looking Ahead

Our understanding of TBI is changing in front of our eyes. As organizations such as the Brain Trauma Foundation continue to define the best practices in treating brain injury, medical care is slowly improving — at least for those patients able to gain access to early trauma care. The war in Iraq has already changed the way we treat TBI in America. Military surgeons who learned life-saving techniques like early cranioplasty are able to employ similar protocols in American trauma centers 

In the years to come, we may increasingly see brain trauma as a chronic but manageable condition similar to diabetes or cardio-pulmonary disease. That perspective might also help in reducing the negative stereotypes of TBI. For now, though, TBI survivors and those who care for them continue to face serious challenges in finding help and finding acceptance.

TBI is a much more manageable injury today than it has been in the past, but it remains a major health problem. As people with TBI continue to live longer and face the challenges of aging with TBI, it will be our duty to provide better education and long-term programs and services. We all have brains; let’s continue to use them — injured or not — to support TBI prevention, research, and treatment.

Posted on BrainLine February 13, 2018. Reviewed March 27, 2019.

About the Author

Michael Paul Mason is the founding editor of This Land, a monthly magazine based in Tulsa. Mason's first book, Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath, is an exploration into the harsh realities endured by people with brain injury. Mason's first book, Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath, is an exploration into the harsh realities endured by brain injury survivors. While currently a brain injury projects manager at the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital, Mason continues to advocate on behalf of Americans with brain injury and is involved with several national legislative initiatives. Learn more about Michael Paul Mason >

Comments (283)

Our prayers for your son and your family.

I'm getting emotional just talking about this. I have mild TBI . I tripped at a concert venue and fell backward on concrete and split my head open. I was out for awhile until I was brought back by the paramedics that eventually wrapped my head up to stop the bleeding. I ended up at the er where they dug bits of concrete out of my head and put 11 staples there I was kept all night for concussion observation and released the next morning. That was 5 months ago. My life is a complete hell! I still suffer from headaches,nausea,and balance problems. I was recently let go of my job that I have worked for 24 yrs. I broke my tailbone so it's hard to sit and I know I damaged my back as it hurts all of the time. I have had 2 cat scans and a chest X-ray to clarify no broken ribs. I am 56 and I have lost 30lbs from nausea and my life is not the same. Can anyone relate?

Multiple TBI survivor here. I need a more solid, pertinent support system . 

In 1998 I was ran over by an s10pickup and attained broken neck Basel skull fracture medulla oblongata severed all but a strand of hairs width. I was diagnosed with the exact injuries as Christopher Reeves. I can walk and talk write etc though. I have dizzy spells, moments of complete black out, I forget a lot short term wise. And a lot of times I do not know how to react to situations due to carelessness. And I will always try to care but a lot of times I am unable to. I was not supposed to live through the accident. Difficulty daily is very real.

I fell off a three story building 4 decades ago, my long and short term memory was bad. And also my temper and hearing. As I have gotten older my memory, temper, and hearing have gotten worse.

I ran into a glass door walking at a very fast pace. I knew something was wrong when I was becoming quite forgetful. I went to see my PCP and after a CAT scan not only did he confirm a concussion he found ano arachnid cyst at the base of my cerebellum. Two months later I had a chest cold and after one particularly hard cough I passed out in my kitchen. A visit to the hospital and an MRI later found that the cyst had increased in size and was literally tilting my brain into the front of my skull. Surgery was successful but now I'm prone to bursts of anger and I'm not the happy go lucky I used to be. Anyone out there have anything similar and if you do what steps have you taken to improve your quality of life?

My husband also hit his head on a steel beam. He was able to see his own doctor, who sent him to a neurologist. He has a TBI and is getting treatment, even though workers comp doesn't want to pay, they have to! Please get that second opinion from a doctor YOU trust! It will be in your best interest! Take care and good luck!

I need help. Can anyone give me advice? Struck my head on a steel beam in February of this year (2016), and workman's comp is dragging this out. Meantime, I saw a 'neurosurgeon', that happens to be on the company payroll, and he says nothing is wrong though he wants to test for seizures. In the meantime, I've had most of the symptoms here, and even what are possibly seizures, but still not receiving treatment. I've been told all I can do is wait, possibly get a second opinion out of pocket.

I just shaved my mohawk off because my hair hurt though, and I'm losing it over everything, I cannot handle the smallest amount of frustration. I haven't had a paycheck for almost five months now and my husband is trying to get a second job to pay for all our bills, we have nothing extra for therapy or a second opinion. Does anyone have any advice for me? Am I really stuck until workman's comp gets moving?

lydiadanea86@gmail.com Please, I need help, I see the disclaimer about medical or legal advice, but I need help.

Do have a lawyer? And did you have short/long-term disability? Apply for unemployment? Get a lawyer importantly!

talk about repeating my  self, i just read what i wrote a year ago, sorry guys, lol melissakelley

hi, my name is Melissa Kelley, maiden name Long, i was in a car accident when i was 3 yrs old, that was back in July or august of 1973, my mom, me and my stepdad was in a head on collision, we got hit broad sided, the accident knocked my mom and i unconscious on impact, i got a depressed scull fracture and a broken collar bone, unconscious for six day's, was in the hospital for a little over a month, mom got fractured ribs and a concussion, she was in the hospital for 2 days, my step dad got cut's and bruises, i had to relearn how to talk and walk, my frontal lobe was damaged but i had head surgery or i would of died, the surgeon had to laterally take my scull off of my brain and pick pieces of my scull out of my brain, i am a slow learner with cognigitive  disorder, mild depression and it has affected my life tremendsly, i tried to work but couldn't keep a job, i had no problem getting a job, it was keeping it, i tried to take care of myself financially but ended up getting on disability, made just enough work credits to qualify for disability and SSI, any way, i make friends pretty good but i'm not a big social person, i take meds to replace that chemical imbalance, without the meds, i would be so upset at times that i would cry, i enjoy life, it is precious and i stay away from people who judge me, i graduated high school with a c, cut hey at least i graduated, i am a very sensitive person and i respect all forms of life, i get mad if there is something i can't do right, but i never give up, my Momma raised me that way, she had me walk again before the hospital sent a nurse out, she knew i didn't need her any more, lol, i can't think quick enough, it takes me awhile to get to where i am trying to go when it comes to figuring something out, i don't drive but i deal with my disability in a positive way, i was above average before the accident, i was let go from jobs because i couldn't catch on in two days, and sometimes things have to be repeated to me, but over all i am glad we made it through that accident, i guess the car was so totaled that the sheriff couldn't believed we lived through it, our guardian angle was with us that day, thank you :)

Omg this sounds like me! I fell at a concert and split my head open and had staples in my head and I have not been the same since! I have no appetite and my head aches entirely! I have lost too much weight and actually my doctor has ordered another cat scan because i have hemorrhage in my left ear which was not detected a month ago in the er...

On September 29th, 2014 my stepdad got into a serious motorcycle accident. He had on all his protective gear... But the way the lady hit him, it flipped him off of his motorcycle, and the plastic/glass part broke and I think It got in his forehead. He had internal bleeding, his heart stopped beating, and he brain was swollen. He had been in the hospital since September and came back in January. He also received some serious brain damage and the part of his brain that is damaged is the part that controls his personality and he was a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON when he came home. He has done some unspeakable things and his attitude is different, he used to yell at people instead of speaking to them regularly, he got angry quicker, had a short temper, etc. The person that really felt this the most is my mother. She's trying to have hope and hold on to the person that he used to be hoping that he will come back. It is now May 2016 and he is MUCH better, but he is not all the way there yet.

I suffer TBI to this day after 23 years. I was struck on the left side of my head in front of ear right under left eye. I was surprised not to hear more about memory. My short term memory has made me appear silly at times and has also been embarrassing. I definitely can relate to disruption of sleep patterns. If I can come close to sleeping at all I feel blessed. I also talk different. I was once pulled over by police and accused of drinking. My equilibrium is bad, so needless to say, I flunked sobriety test, but passed breathalyzer. My biggest loss is my creativity. I was a professional musician and songwriter. I can still function a little, but its easy to recognize that things dont flow like it used to. I have sympathy and compassion for anyone dealing with TBI. I know it changed my life and still is.

I had my TBI 30 years ago this August.  When I talk with high school students today through the PARTY (Prevent Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth) program, I have a student ask me how long it took me to recover. When the question is posed to me, I reply with the question, "What day is it today?" When the date is given, my answer is, "I'm still recovering".

30 years ago, little of what is known today was available.  I was just lucky.  I want to help those who have not been so lucky.  Thank you for the information and research now available to us.

I am very lucky. I live alone and went to bed on a friday and woke on sunday to find I had fallen and had many injuries that did not hurt. I had been falling all over the house and had a broken arm, a large hole in my hip, and other varies injuries including a brain bleed. The doctors told me I had a large mass on my brain and I was going to die. They operated the next morning and found it was a bleed instead of a mass. I went home in three days to recover. It has been four months and the only things I notice wrong is I forget some and I am not able to do things fast. I don't know what really happened to cause the first fall. My brother was here on the Sunday when I woke up. When I woke up I was up walking. I had been up and doing things. It was as if all my lights were on but no one was home. I was seeing things that were not there. My vision was very bad. Waking up after the surgery my vision was much better but my eyeballs were jumping. That is back to normal. I was very lucky to get back to 95% in 4 months. I feel I may get back all the way to normal. I had a very good surgeon.

Hey sorry to hear that hope things will get a lot better for you I will keep u to in my prayers. I just want to how long was it before u woke up and started to kinda get back to urself? I have a cousin fighting for his life right now to that was involved in a car wreck he had swelling on his brain and bleeding. They did surgery and stop the bleeding and swelling end up going down but this the problem they're saying he's motor skills is damage and nothing else they can do. But how if he is opening up his eyes and squeeze your hand and even drop a tear I'm so confused

I was in bad car crash & i was in the hospital for 4 weeks 2 I spend on a ventilator fighting for my life an the rest in rehab . An now I'm suffering head trauma , I don't sleep for days ,I don't eat most days , I'm very depressed , I've lost friends and family . I don't wish this on anybody , this is very hard to live with I'm only 21 an life has been rough these last 2 weeks since I've been able to come home . The pain meds don't work really , I'm in pain most of my days this just all seems like a dream to me . I pray for anybody going through this an there family's .

I don't know if I have a, TBI but my husband has beat me in the head many many times !!! I have had many black eyes and other bad bumps to the head . I suffer from headaches, and I cry very easy and suffer from really bad depression !!!

Thank you for this information on TBI. I was in a Sand Truck Accident back in 1998 that busted the skin open but not the skull on the right side of my head. The doctor just stitched me up and sent me home. My Head hurt so very badly for for 6 months to the point I could not even turn my eyes or my head. I have had Chronic Daily Migraines ever since. I have just recently been diagnosed with Hemiplegic Migraines as well. Since that accident I have not even been able to work math at all and have anger outbursts that are so not me. Mixing my words up when I talk.  Could it be that I have actually been suffering from TBI and not even knowing it?

Aug 2015 had car accident 36 year old male ejected from vehicle, came crashing down, requiring brain surgery, open head wound. Lost 100% right hearing in right ear with added severe tinitus ringing in that ear. Regained myself from double eyesight, loss of taste and walking thinking. I spent 6months getting help from my Mother to use different parts of brain to thing thoughts again expand on those thoughts, remember old brain pathways to function day to day. I am 2months back at work now accountant, learned to drive again and coping best I can with all the data processing and analytics. Mostly reinventing myself, using other peoples brain to do things I can process without the added stress. The moving brain I think is a reality overlooked. I can be fine sleeping and wake up feeling like I am not fully cognizant for days, floating around, the sensation is like flying through a tunnel in space, feeling like everyone else has gravity to process the environment and my sense of it is fleeting. Its difficulty finding methods to cope, wish I had my old life ability back but this challenge is that a challenge. I don't know what tomorrow brings but I don't bank on it. I am simplifying my life finances etc. Short term memory loss a daily reality, but being very careful getting around. Keep praying for assistance in my daily routines.

My tbi was 4 yrs ago i had a subdural hematoma and crainiotomy i still suffer with headaches tracers ringing ears poor balance short term terrible memory loss irrtability chronic fatigue ect. I have found what helps me is meditation constant prayer and my love for jesus and my family. I concentrate on what i can do not what i can't do. It is literally a hour by hour day by day healing i enjoy what i can and try to stay busy and positive and rest when i need to. I'm blessed with a wonderful husband who is just happy I'm alive. May God bless anyone who is reading this. Walk with your head up and be happy you can read this. God bless c.z.

I have had my head beat in, punched, head butted to the point I have permit black eyes and my left nasal cavity is a mess... This is from 5 years of abuse... Well now I know what you call this hell in my head.,

I would like to bring to peoples attention in this country that doctors do not understand brain injury. I have suffered severe headaches dizziness collapsing brain pressure seizures and being ignored all the time. Now got a living body and a brain that is dead

Was told I'm a TBI case by the Dr today I was hit with an excavator on the construction site its been hard I'm reading educating myself to this traumatic brain injury stuff its scary how I relate to every story some more than others its scary to me and very frustrating on a daily basis I don't know how ppl have lived this for yrs or decades y'all must be strong I'm hurting everyone around me and hate life ass I type here don't know what to do my neurosurgeon I feel isn't doing the best job or doesn't work hard enough cuz I'm a workman's comp case other wards discounted its only been a month since my accident I'm forced back into work I shake uncontrollably head aches are constantly non stop lost hearing on my right side on top I jerk and shake or tremor in my sleep my back hasn't been addressed yet never had back issues before days I don't want to get out of bed and feel like saying F these drs and everyone including my job who is probably only keeping me employed cuz its the law here these ppl are so horrible when I was hit they thought it was more important to get my bosses on the job site before any one one called 911 so I remained on the floor convulsing and bleeding badly on the floor till another guy Frm another company said my coworkers were so wrong and called 911i never asked for this it wasn't my fault Sorry just want to say thks to my company sarcastically I was a single father who was going on my second yr of a awesome marriage its been upside down the past month and think I'm them too because of me and this accident I feel so broken and I don't want to be traumatic in every aspect this experience

I am 24. I was standing in a parking lot on my phone for a minute and next thing I know I woke up in the hospital. I didn't understand what happened. Everyone was crying. I first seen my new son he was about 4 months. I said hi and everyone was freak out. I talked and I was like what? My mom then said do you know me and who you are and why youre here? I said I know your my mom and I'm your son but did I get in a car wreck? Then the doctor explained it to me. He said I wouldn't wake up for three days and we weren't expecting you to be able to speak correctly or remember a lot of things. He said someone hit you in the back of your head with a car fracturing it and causing severe brain damage. I was bleeding out of both ears and spinal fluid. Long story short I don't remember me coming home. I could walk but I was really off balance. I couldn't move my right side of my face and speech was slurred. I slept for about a week straight and realized I needed to start fighting this. I'm a very strong person mentally. I fought and fought and fought. I got everything back to normal in about 2 months. Physically I lost my right hearing and I have horrible headaches. I hear ringing all the time. Still it's over whelming when I'm trying to be with my son and it hurts so bad just to hear him cry. I can't handle it and gives so much anxiety when this happens. It made me anti social. I'm always saying it's going to get better then I fail again and I hate myself. It's really shifty. I cry because I still can't handle hearing loud stuff. I want my son like used to play all day with him. Now I get flustered and that's not me and it's just mentally challenging. I then turned to alcohol to stop thinking. It just caused me alot of suffering mentally. I'm still dealing with this but I am fighting it for my son and I won't stop. I hope everyone recovers from your injury just don't give up stay positive.

Hi everyone. The father of my children was in a mva in august. I'm pretty sure he is considered to be out of his coma at this point but he still can't talk. He follows commands consistently and answers yes and no by pushing yes and no buttons on a phone or tablet. He isn't walking but can bear weight on his feet. I know everyone's experience is different and he has made amazing progress over the period of 4 months but I just feel like his is so much different than everyone else. I understand that his standing and hopefully walking will come with time. I just can't understand why he isn't talking. He has progressed in every other way. I was wondering if anyone else had a similar experience or had any advice or helpful words.

Thank you for this information. ..I couldn't do my job as a nurse for many months after my accident...My short term memory has been affected and I need special glasses for focusing because my focus goes in and out..very tiring..I don't feel like I ever go into REM sleep and BP is much higher..I stumble with words and say things that don't make sense some times...Must be so frustrating for my family and friends at times..I do feel alone sometimes.. It's difficult to explain a TBI to someone.

Thank u for your story. I too was in a head on and fighting to be and feel normal. It's been one of the loneliest times of my life yet.

i was in a head on collision car accident with my mom and stepdad, we were on our way to fishing when a car came speeding towards us, we didn't see him  and he didn't see us, he hit us broadside head on(i was 3 yrs old at the time), the impact was so hard that my mom and i was knocked unconscious, my step dad got cut's and bruises, but the accident left me with a depressed scull fracture and a broken collar bone, my mom got a concussion and fractured rib's, she was unconscious for two day's, i was unconscious for 6 day's, the doctor had to do surgery or i would of died, mom got to go home in 2 day's, i was in the hospital for a little over a month, i had to learn how to walk and talk again, my mom had me walking before they sent a nurse out to work with me, when she got to our house, mom said i ran up to her and she said "Well i guess you don't need me".

i was afraid of the x-ray light when the doctor did x-ray's on me, mom had to practice with me laying on the kitchen table with a lamp and i had nightmare's galore, the accident damaged my frontal lobe but thank God we all lived, i have tried to take care of my self, i have been refused job's because i either didn't pass the test ori caught on to the job to  slow, but i did manage to take care of my self through alot of job's, i had no problem getting a job, it was keeping it that i had a problem with, i got kicked out of kindergarden when i was five in one school and had to go to another, i had alot of bad temper's, i used drug's and alcohol but i got help for that and i am alcohol and drug free, i have taken counceling all my life and still do, i take anti-depressants and exiety pill's but i don't have a problem socializing because i learned through my life how negative behaviour effects other people, i am on disability and i'm 45 year's old, the doctor's never asked my mom if she wanted to sign me up for social security, and one doctor tell's my mom i will never be able to take care of my self and a nother doctor tell's my mom i can with training, well, i have tried and now i'm here on disability at age 39 is when i started getting it, i have been a fighter all my life and still am as far as life go's and that is why i am here, My name is Melissa, and it is nice meeting every body, we all have come a long way fighting tooth and nail to get here, God bless you :)

Hello everyone, the challenges one faces with a TBI can be across the board.  I suffered a Frontotemporal hematoma due to a dirt bike accident in 1999.  I was 17.  I fractured my left orbit, temporal bone and frontal.  They put me in a coma for 2 weeks self induced.  I woke from the coma as i started fighting the vent tubes.  I dont remember being being awake for the first 3 days. please email me if you want to hear the whole store and how im doing.  Mike B michaelocword@gmail.com

To September 2015 comment: you are not alone, as I am far too much like you. Stick it out, so we each know the other is there.

wow, reading these comments have really shown me how many people are suffering.

I am a caregiver for my sister who was in a MVA when she was 9.  The accident took the lives of our mom and brother and she was not suppose to make it.      

She functions quite well, and if fact most people in public do not even know that she has major injuries.    Major Brain injury being the biggest problem, she cannot see anything to the left of her, and she cannot use her left hand.   It has been tough managing her affairs and sometimes I get frustrated with her conditions.   I am in charge of her finances, bills, appointments.....   She now has gotten married (25) and is pregnant (all of this without letting any of our family know ) .  We are concerned that she cannot raise this baby physically and mentally and are not quite sure what to do.

Thank you to all who have posted their experiences.  I feel so isolated and alone.  I suffered numerous severe head traumas in childhood (the ones I can remember) due to abuse and family dysfunction.  My father was by all appearances a loving man but could fly into uncontrollable rages.  One of these resulted in a hard slam to my back when I was 10 years old.  I may have suffered broken ribs as when I remember waking I was on my stomach and crying because of the pain and the fact I couldn't breathe.  My Mother told me that they couldn't take me to a hospital because my dad would go to jail.  I know that I didn't finish out my last 3 months of 6th grade and don't remember that summer at all.  However, in 7th grade I got straight A's so of course everyone wanted to believe there was no damage.  However about this time I started being what my family referred to as a "spaz" with jerkey weird motions.  I continued to appear to excel in school but nothing really worked inside of me.  I became a strange hyperacheiver with severe social difficulties.  My family made fun of me and my achievements were resented by my siblings.  I now know that I was trying to win affection and approval but all of my achievements were very shallow if that makes sense. I think because emotionally and cognitively I couldn't really comprehend them.  Before this incident my oldest brother who myself and my other siblings (7 children) were left in his charge pulled me by my foot at about age 7 from a high bunk bed where I was trying to avoid him (he consistently sexually molested me and beat me up).  This fall I remember because my head hit the floor violently.  He then drug me through the house by my foot to a back room.  My memories of what happened then are blocked until I remember my mother beating me for "asking for it" by staying home instead of going with her.  He was 7 years my senior but his activities were passed off as children "playing" so any trauma there was discounted and is still so to this day. This results in my family tsking, tsking me for being erratic and unforgiving--further isolating me.   I do know that as young as 3 years old I remember desperately trying to hide from something/somebody all of the time.  The combination of abuse resulted in me being odd socially.  I guess I was considered attractive and would have people that wanted to be with me but I was unable to maintain relationships.  I think this was alot due to the brain injuries and my erratic behavior.  I still succeeded in many ways so people found me confusing and often would eventually tire of my "behavior" although initially being drawn to me.  Then in 1986 I was doing very well professionally (also not tolerated by my family as they thought I was a strange person to not be married, etc) when I was involved in a severe accident.  A drunk driver pulled in front of me (2.75 bac the next day) and I hit him full on.  I now understand that I suffered a very severe closed head injury although went without a proper diagnosis (I believe to stem my rightful lawsuit--bad lawyer/bad choices/erratic behavior/no support system-I quit my high level job because my self-esteem would not allow me to accept my new normal.  Oddly, my company begged me to stay but I quit.  I went from handling 11 major apartment complexes and several businesses (I was a high lever asset manager managing large budgets and a lot of people) to not being able, literally, add simple numbers.  It was me who quit after years of success.  I was 32 at that time and haven't been able to maintain a job for any length of time although I always initially do very well.  I just wear out and start getting confused.  I try to hide my disabilities (like a good girl-plus people think I am making it up because I can be very high functioning so I try to avoid "explaining" to people--they don't get it).  I am constantly making and losing friends because I initially appear to be one person and then inevitably I act out (sometimes I don't even know what I did wrong) and they don't like me anymore. Or they get annoyed during the periods of time that I cannot function due to severe fatigue and confusion.  I have never had a support system of a partner/helpmate so I have struggled to constantly rebuild a life.  I suffered a serious fall/concussions 3 years ago (also numerous other accidents--they seem to follow you once you have one).  I tried to rehab myself as I am never really been  listened to completely and unfortunately I was living in a place with severe toxic mold (my life circumstances have been difficult for all of the time since the accident and I make extremely erratic and impulsive choices and my income and insurance has been deeply impacted-which further irritates people in my life)   I am still trying to have a life.  On good days I am still very optimistic and try to still have the best life I can but it is very scary.  I am at the point of a pretty small life but I keep trying.  It is embarrassing because I know people look at me at my age and imagine I am somehow a big screw-up--that I had it all and messed it up.  Compassion is hard to find after all of this.  And I still often appear competent and attractive.  If I had a broken arm it would be easier.  I guess I just needed to vent here and hope that is okay.  For all of you caregivers, God Bless you for sticking by the injured person. Just acknowledging that their injury is very real and knowing their challenges is so important.   It is so confusing from the inside of it.  I wish I did have someone but I feel like I would be such a burden to anyone.  But I would love just having someone keep track of when the bills are due and some groceries bought.  And some human touch.  Again, I have many blessings and keep going but it is depressing that this has gone on so long and affected my life so dramatically.  I am so happy that brain trauma is finally getting recognition and hopefully our society is changing to a more understanding and compassionate stance.  It is not a simple thing and I believe it is so misunderstood.  Even by those of us on the "inside".  I constantly want to deny the very real effects and I have lived with them for years now.  (I am 61).  But I am still in here.  thanks for listening.  sorry to go on so long.  Please just love that person and no matter how crazy they might be making you know that you are helping them by just being there.  It is a heroic thing to give up so much for someone who needs you.  And yes, you are probably giving up a lot. I wish I had someone like you in my life that cared enough to stay even when I am so hard to understand. 

the brain's way of healing by Norman Doidge is a book that will give hope and cutting edge treatments that help heal or at least improve tbi

Hi in 2013 my husband and I took our 18 month old grandson into our home because his mom wanted to live homeless. My grandson went from house to house living every where but in a safe home. But while living with his mom, he use to throw tanturms all the time when he never got his way. When he did that, he always threw himself down and banged the back of his head on the ground. His mom never took him to the doctor to check is anything was wrong with him. When he moved with us, he hardly could walk, never talked just mumbled or pointed to what he wanted. 11 days later he had a seizure and past away. took 8 months for the autopsy to come back and they said that he died from Diffuse Axonal Injury. What are the chances that my grandson was injured before he came to live with us? and the police called it a Homicide.

I was in a horrific car accident in 1988. Broken pelvic bone & exploratory surgery resulting in removal of my gallbladder. My head was hit, slammed against the car door plus the ground when I landed from a 200 feet throw from the vehicle. I was never told I sustained brain injury. It was never addressed in any manner. For years since I suffer severe headaches. I can retain information but its difficult depending on the information. As badly as I hate to admit this there have been outburst of anger that are uncontrollable. After the outburst my brain feels like an electrical storm. It hurts severely. My question is do I have possible signs of brain injury. If so what can I do to relieve the pain & pressure I feel. I've never talked about this to anyone. Thank you. My email is gingerl_taylor@yahoo.com Please contact if you can help

My Family was in a car accident 1992 in Aus , on our way back from a holiday. My Mother was Pregnant with me at the time, my dad was driving and my 2 older brothers were in the back. We were hit head on at 100 km/h by another driving who feel asleep at the wheel. We all survived however My brother 6 at at the time was left the worst off ..

He suffered frontal lob brain injuries and is a T6 paraplegic. He also has seizures, from time to time, and requires medication. My brother is also on anti-depressant to help moods and High Blood pressure medication. After the car accident we also discoved my brothers carry the hemophiliac gene....

This accident has completely changed our families life, my brother requires 24/7 care and assistance. I love him to death but it is hard seeing him that way sometimes and upsets me. But on the flip side he amazes me you know,, how strong he is after everything...His heart is filled with so much love and hes got a great sence of humor <3

sometimes i think to myself what would I do without him....he's shaped me to be the woman I am today and im so thakful for that big brother.

 Since my partner and i have been living with my brother for the past 6 years. To take care of him of a night time when he has no carers... I really do feel that hes come such a long way.. Without everyone in our familys help i dont know how we would have done it .

I am 25 years old and and 20 years ago my father fell from his bicycle without wearing  a helmet.

He was in the hospital for 5 months and came out the shell of  person.  He lost the part of his brain for personality.  He has no emotion and remembers nothing but of his childhood.  He lived with my aunt for 20 years and then started getting into trouble for loitering and shoplifting.  Nothing serious but enough for business owners to call the cops.

My sister and I have had him for almost a week now and dealing with him and getting his affairs in orders has been the most difficult tasks of my life.  We are putting him in long term care as he also smokes and attempts to hitch hike.

Some days I don't know how to make it through.

I had a blood clot removed from right side of my brain 29 years ago, I was very lucky and seemed to have recovered without any side effects but at the end of september 2014 I started getting bad pressure sensations on the site of the operation, my right ear also started to feel blocked and warm, it got so bad that i went to the A+ E dept, there they done some tests and decided I needed a C T scan, the C T scan came back clear and they could not find a cause for these strange pressure sensations and this feeling of a blocked right ear.

A few weeks later I went to my GP and told him I still had this pressure on the right side of my head and he sent me for another C T scan, again the scan came back clear. It is now 6 months later and the head pressure and blocked ear sensations are still as bad as ever, I have not been given any explanation as to what is causing this pressure on the site of my brain operation, why have these symptoms started now 29 years after my brain operation, would really like to know if anyone else has experienced anything like this so long after a brain operation. 
 

Thanks I enjoyed reading from others. I am recovering but always reminded of deficits of TBI.

My dad, 52 years old, was hit by a train and has a severe tbi. He was in a coma for two months, but began slowly making progress. He was able to talk in a whisper and move around in his wheelchair. But unfortunately nobody told us that 6 to 9 months after injury, scarring in the brain can cause seizures and many complications. My dad is again unable to talk or do anything. He has now been in this state for about a month, and he is home with hospice care, I never thought a decline like this could happen after he made so much progress. Hope this helps somebody, there is not a lot of information about secondary trauma after severe brain injury.

My dad was in an accident and suffered a severe TBI. I love coming to this page and being able to read about the brain it gives me hope. This page inspired me to start a blog for him about his recovery and what not. Brianplatts.blogspot.com

I am a person who suffers from a TBI, I have headaches sometimes, right side weakness because the gun shot was to the left side of my head. I thank God that I am alive. But it is changeling. I do have memory lost and I have to write things down.

I was the victim of a drunk-driving car accident almost 2 years ago. I was 17 years old at the time. The ironic thing about being in this accident was the drunk driver was one of my close friends driving the car intoxicated. He turned in an intersection at the wrong time and the car collided at the exact area where I had been sitting, in the passenger's backseat. I was instantly unconscious, and rushed to the ICU. I had my hair cut due to all the glass that was in my skull. I had bruises and cuts all over my face. The surgeons had did a cat scan on my brain and had came to the assumption that I would need brain surgury. I was then transported to the hospital in the largest city in the state of alabama. (I also had surgury on my broken pelvis). When I got to the bigger, more advanced hospital, they did thier own cat-scan and concluded that brain surgury was not needed. According to the doctors, I suffered a mild TBI but never-the-less, i still have lingering symptoms going on two years later. Some of my shorter term symptoms included: excessive crying, profane behavior, belligerency, short temper, migraines, no humor, and self isolation. Before experiencing these symptoms I dont even remember. I did not come back to conciousness of reality until 12 days after the accident. Within these 12 days following my accident, I did not even know my own mother, the one I have been supported by for 17 years. I did not recognize nobody for that fact. I told my twelve year old sister I would harm her, and I called my mother such things as a stupid ass bitch, ect. I had really hurt people emotionally in this time that is all quite a blur when i think about it. During the time of the accident, I was less than two months away from graduating the 11th grade. I was unable to return to school that year, and my school determined that in order for me to pass the 11th grade, I would have to take it over in the 2013-2014 year. However, my nuero-physocolgist told me this would be unlikely to be successful. so , what am I to do? I am now sueing my ex-close friend's car isurance company, and he's going against me. I dont understand why he would do this- Its not like im sueing him or he would have to pay anything, besides maybe a little bit more on his car insurance. I am having a hard time gathering my thoughts because the depostion for this is next friday, and Im not sure how to make the words sum together and flow properly, to describe my pain and suffering. Can anybody help me? please? It would be greatly appreciated.

It never ceases to amaze me, how many people are impacted by TBI -- either as survivors or loved ones. We need all the good information we can get - thank you for your work.

Yes. Crainal scaral therapy. I received this treatment twice a month. I am now able to work and take care of myself. Over the last 10 years since my TBI I have done many things. Kinesiology is a big one.

i had a bad accident hit a pole an was ejected out the car no seatbelt, my family not anyone can understand i am still in constant pain it affects everything i am at my witts end i only feel relaxed an feel like i can make good progress when taking temazepam has any one else found the same thing or know of something better ???

Good luck. If you live in Illinois the doctors are hard to find or give meds to make it worse. My fiance was left for dead on the railroad tracks a train came by and hit his head. We are still working on getting the right doctor. Its been 7 years already

Hello,my wife is a brain injury. Survivor and still dealing with headaches, discomfort nights and mood swings. Along with other,difficulties. I will continue,to seek help atto seek help for my wife of 21yrs; . Is there an Doc: out there that is willing to help my wife,with treatment,for her Brain issnjury and not just for the mental,effects she's experience. Mr.&Mrs.Sav;shel3168@gmail.com

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