Brain Injury Category
By Marilyn Lash
The effects of a traumatic brain injury upon a person’s cognition – the ability to think and learn – can be so overwhelming that the survivor literally struggles to get through each day. Barbara Webster has led hundreds of support groups for the BIA of Massachusetts and is all too familiar with the struggles, frustrations and difficulties of rebuilding your life after a head injury.
She knows first hand what it is like to have your life change dramatically after she escaped from a car crash with what everyone thought were minor injuries. Suddenly she was not able to perform her job or manage her household. Even the most simple tasks such as choosing her clothes in the morning, cooking supper or making a grocery list felt overwhelming and sent her back to bed. The harder she tried, the more stuck and frustrated she became.
Not knowing the cause of her cognitive difficulties, she became so depressed she feared she was going crazy and even contemplated suicide. The night she went to a parents’ meeting at school and heard a guest speaker talk about brain injury was the beginning of turning her life around. She went to her first support group meeting for survivors and realized that her cognitive difficulties might be linked to her earlier car accident and her so called “mild” brain injury. Most importantly, she learned that there was help and support available. Bringing her husband to a support group meeting helped him understand the cause of her difficulties and gave him a new perspective about what was wrong. He realized, “It wasn’t her fault” It was the head injury that was causing her to act and think the way she was.
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Barbara Webster’s story is still too common. There is nothing “mild” about a brain injury. Because she only lost consciousness for moments and had no physical injuries after her car crash, her brain injury was not diagnosed until many many months later. After all, she looked fine. But looks can be deceiving.
Brain Injury Consequences
Trauma to the brain can result in a wide variety of physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral changes. But it is the cognitive changes – the ability to process information, problem solve, make decisions, use sound judgment, pay attention and remember events and details – that so often feel overwhelming for the individual. Family members often feel confused, frustrated, and even angered by the changes and can not understand what has happened. It can literally feel like one’s life – all that was known and familiar – has been lost. Finding and reclaiming one’s life starts with the diagnosis of a brain injury. The next step is finding experts and therapists who are experienced and can provide treatment and rehabilitation services, design compensatory strategies, give counseling, and extend support. Recovery is a process and a journey that involves the individual as well as their family. Barbara Webster can attest to the importance of hope, information, support and resources on brain injury in order to find, reclaim and rebuild one’s life.