Traumatic Brain Injury is one of the least understood and most difficult-to-treat conditions. However, researchers continue at a quick pace in this area of medicine. Some of what doctors previously thought was mere absent-mindedness or attention deficit disorder, actually is a brain injury. A Minnesota Radio DJ left his job after he could no longer keep his daily tasks at work under control. David Campbell resigned after he had difficulty meeting deadlines and keeping expectations. In an interview with Twin Cities News, Campbell said, “I was having a hard time meeting the deadlines . . . I would end up staying until 2, or 4, in the morning to meet a deadline. I realized something wasn’t right.”
Campbell thought he must have developed a learning disability. But when he sought out a specialist, he discovered an injury to his left frontal lobe. This is an area of the brain responsible for organized thought and some aspects of short-term memory. He and his doctors believe this damage happened many years ago when Campbell suffered a concussion playing hockey.
Brain Injury Has Many Causes
Football and hockey have been in the news recently for head injuries occurring during games. But not all closed head injuries occur in that context. Car and truck accidents are another common cause of brain injuries. Comedian Tracy Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2014, when a truck collided with his limo in New Jersey. His close friend, fellow comic James McNair, died in the high-speed collision. Morgan is open about the accident, and the ways it impacts his daily life.
When he spoke about the accident recently at the Emmy Awards he told fans, “It’s been a long road back. I suffered a traumatic brain injury that put me in a coma for eight days.” But true to form, Morgan is also working through his injury using his comedic insight. He displays it in this youtube video with Bobby Moynihan promoting Morgan’s first “SNL” appearance since his traumatic brain injury. For Morgan, humor helps his recovery and allows him to talk about this most traumatic event.
Some Victims of Brain Injury Don’t Seek Diagnosis and Treatment Soon Enough
As researchers work on TBI’s causes, we learn the causes are more varied. Victims of domestic violence, many who never reported the abuse, discover brain injuries years after the incident.
A 2001 study found that 67% of women in emergency rooms for injuries from domestic violence had TBI symptoms. Thirty percent reported loss of consciousness. Another survey of domestic violence shelters found that 92% of the women were hit on the head by their partners. Applying that figure nationally, the size of the potentially affected population is astonishingly high. Twenty million women risk TBI each year. With the documented association between partner abuse and child abuse, millions more children.
One innovative shelter for battered women started a program to ensure proper TBI treatment for domestic abuse survivors. The Sojourner Center in Arizona partners with schools, clinics, or departments to screen, treat, and research TBIs. The Sojourner BRAIN Program is a “first-of-its-kind effort to lead the domestic violence field in developing a body of knowledge regarding the incidence, presentation, profile and characteristics, short- and long-term effects, and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in a population largely unrecognized and rarely talked about—women and children impacted by domestic violence.”
New Research Funding for Traumatic Brain Injury
While the causes are many, there is wide agreement that developing effective treatments and diagnosis techniques is critical. Universities, through private funding and government grants, have put research into Traumatic Brain Injury at the forefront of their work. Some traumatic brain injury survivors have dedicated their lives to improving treatment of this condition. Dr. Cindy LaRoe was an internist before a 2011 bicycle crash left her with a serious brain injury. The injury cost her a career in medicine, but it also led her to develop new artistic talents. She and her husband have hosted fundraisers selling her art to benefit the Brain Injury Association of Florida, the University of Florida Health Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, and The Florida Hospital Neuroscience Institute.
As important as research on Traumatic Brain Injury treatment is, it’s also critical that we strive for injury prevention. In what some see as an unlikely match-up, Formula One has teamed up with the International Automobile Federation. Together, they research the best practices for prevention of brain and spinal injuries in automobile racing. Further, they want to understand and prevent these injuries in average cars on our roadways.
If you suspect a traumatic brain injury, it is important to get proper diagnosis and treatment from a doctor immediately. Quick diagnosis and treatment could mean the difference between life and death.