Traumatic Brain Injury

Last spring, I put out a call on my public journal for topic suggestions. A friend of mine and traumatic brain injury [Wikipedia] (TBI) survivor suggested I explore what TBI [Mayo Clinic] has taught us.

Like many of the topics I’ve written about here, I had much to learn before I could begin. Once I researched TBI [Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital], I had difficulty breaking the vast topic [Open Directory] back down into a streamlined piece. I have my former editor, Kay Holt, to thank for some of the links I will be including and also for the flow of the piece. As usual, the links will take you to articles that explore the main and related topics more thoroughly. Please have a look beneath the surface.

Raising awareness:

Last week, Ohio’s House of Representatives approved Balderson’s Brain Injury Awareness Bill in hopes that attention will be drawn to the issue. The action was timely as a press release issued last week from the Mayo Clinic states that, “Traumatic Brain Injuries Are Likely More Common Than Previously Thought.”

“The findings reinforce ongoing efforts by the CDC [CDC: Injury, Prevention, and Control: Traumatic Brain Injury] to create a brain injury classification that more broadly encompasses traumatic head injury.

“With more complete assessment of frequency, we’ll have better tools to develop prevention programs, optimize treatments, understand cost-effectiveness of care and predict outcomes for patients,” says Dr. Brown.” (Hiatt, Emily, Mayo Clinic)

Some of those discovered to have suffered TBIs received them participating in sports activities. Last May ESPN Action Sports – BMX ran a series of articles on head injuries, “Head First: What Have We Learned?,” profiling several athlete TBI survivors and detailing good practices that have been instituted in some championships.

Improving prevention:

Seatbelts and airbags have contributed to a higher car crash survival rate which translates further into an increase of patients with head traumas caused by those accidents. Car and airplane manufacturers are still looking at ways to improve these basic preventative measures.

Despite the stigma of donning helmets during practice and in competition, one of the focal points was the lives they saved. Which brings me to an exciting development in technology has to be the “Revolutionary Motorcycle Helmet Inspired By Human Skin To Reduce Traumatic Brain Injuries.” Kay and I both agreed that this ought to excite some of you science fiction writers out there.

Accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment:

The faster a patient suffering from a TBI receives treatment, the better the chances for a more complete recovery. However, before treatment can begin a diagnosis must be made. Often TBI patients experience subsequent injuries such as strokes, concussions and seizures which further inhibit recovery.

Check out these articles on advances in our understanding of TBIs, diagnostic technology, and treatment:

When Kay and I first discussed the topic and she sent me some link suggestions, she mentioned that it looked like TBI patients and those in their support network were in for an emotional roller coaster. I think that is an accurate description.

So many of the older, more comprehensive articles (Moderate and Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in Adults, Head Injury Research: What Have We Learned?) call for more testing of the therapies studied citing the differences between the test mammals and the humans suffering TBIs. The test therapies would demonstrate great results only to fall short in human trials. (Critical Appraisal of Neuroprotection Trials in Head Injury: What Have We Learned?) Calls for larger care teams that encompassed different specialized approaches were common.

In more recent articles, I see the discussion on new advances and how they work in animal test subjects and wonder about implementation. I see connections being made between PTSD and TBI (Traumatic brain injury linked to PTSD: UCLA study). I’ve read discussions on survivor and caregiver counseling and come across blogs written by survivors and their support system/caregivers such as “How Can We Learn if We Can’t Remember?” I’ve even encountered the Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide – Online Book by a Doctor.

I could see plenty of areas to explore in fiction. I couldn’t remember a specific example of something I’d read until my husband offered Duma Key as an example. The main character suffered a TBI among other injuries including the loss of an arm towards the beginning of the book. Part of that book revolves around his slow recovery. What have you read that includes a person dealing with a traumatic brain injury? Is the person a medical professional, a caregiver, a support system member, or the patient? How accurately do you feel it is represented? Do you see yourself writing a story that includes an aspect of TBI?

This post is dedicated to my friend. I hope she is currently soaking up the sun as she celebrates her birthday with a new adventure.




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