When a person experiences brain injury, their life changes forever. They have experienced a traumatic and horrific experience already, and now must deal with the aftermath. Persons with brain injuries deserve every bit of help and respect we can give, and one of the best ways to give that is to learn more about brain injuries.
March is Brain Injury Awareness month, but we'll help you expand your knowledge all year long.
What is a brain injury and what causes it?
- A brain injury is any event that hurts the brain.
- Causes of brain injury depend on how we define brain injury. Often brain injury is considered synonymous with “traumatic brain injury” – this means that an outside force, like the head being hit by something or hitting something, has caused the brain to be injured and no longer function as it used to function.
- Examples of this could include falling off a bike and hitting your head, being in a car accident where your head was hit, or being hit by debris in a war zone.
- Concussion is also a type of brain injury, and although it is more mild, it can be very difficult to live with and can cause significant challenges in day to day life.
- The brain can also be injured by a stroke or aneurysm, tumors, or any other disease or disorder that affects the brain.
How do brain injuries affect daily lives?
- Brain injuries can affect both cognition and/or language – it’s different for every person, because brain injuries affect different parts of the brain.
- Problems with cognition can include difficulties with:
- Attention (the ability to focus for short and long periods of time; the ability to focus on more than one thing at a time; the ability to switch your focus between various tasks)
- Perception (the ability to use your senses and then process that information)
- Memory (both immediate, short, and long term)
- Organization (keeping both your life and your thoughts and communication in order)
- Executive Function (making plans, monitoring how well they went, and adjusting as needed.
- Problems with language can include difficulties with:
- Listening (it can be hard to process information presented verbally, especially when more is presented at a time)
- Speaking (sometimes finding the words you want can be difficult – this is called “anomia”; sometimes getting your mouth to make the correct movements for specific sounds can be hard, and speech may sound slurred)
- Gesturing (gestures are a major part of communication – sometimes people struggle to remember the meanings associated with gestures, both in terms of using them and understanding them)
- Reading (this can be an issue at the word or sentence level, or may only affect persons as the length of a reading passage increases)
- Writing (this can also be a problem at any level of length or complexity, like reading, and may present as difficulty with forming letters or with difficulty spelling or with difficulty formulating messages in writing)
What can be done for cognitive & communication difficulties after brain injury?
- The brain can compensate for difficulties. It can relearn skills that have been lost. Improvement is possible for many, many years after a brain injury – you just have to work at it!
- There are many therapy tasks available for persons with brain injuries. More and more research is being done in the area of brain injury rehabilitation.
- There are many clinicians who offer therapy for persons with brain injuries. They range from occupational therapists to speech pathologists to neurologists to psychologists, and more.
- There are also many programs out there that can offer therapy tasks to persons with brain injuries who would like to continue or augment their therapy! Constant Therapy is proud to be one of those programs.