Traumatic Brain Injury - an Intellectual's Need for Cognitive Rehabilitation

Article excerpt

Traumatic brain injuries can happen at anytime, to anyone. A traumatic brian injury (TBI) occurs when the brain has undergone sudden injury. Traumatic brain injuries may occur when incidents such as strokes, gunshot wounds, physical assaults, sports, car accidents, falls, bicycle and motorcycle accidents, as well as when pedestrians are hit by vehicles cause damage to an individual's brain. Doctors, teachers, cognitive therapists, and health care professionals don't always recognize or properly diagnose the problems that arise for a traumatic brain injured individual: moreover, the intellectual who has suffered a traumatic brain injury does not receive the proper cognitive retraining. The professionals think nothing is wrong with the individual because s/he functions at such a high level. Dr. Thomas Kay, in his article, "What You Should Know About 'The Unseen Injury: Minor Head Trauma'", stated the nerve cell damage can be widespread and microscopic, not appearing on diagnostic radiographic imageries or on neurological testings. He also stated a person's intelligence could still be measured as average or above average, yet their cognitive abilities are not as they once were.

This possible inability to recognize the intellectual TBI's cognitive difficulties since the injury is frustrating to the intellectual TBI, because they know something is a miss cognitively. Dr. Kay advises patients, "not to fall victim to being told you are malingering or imagining your symptoms." Mary Ellen Jennison, in her report, "Project Able: Academic Bridges to Learning Effectiveness", supports the need for curriculum and programs geared to college students and the higher functioning TBI individuals. She outlined Project Able's program in which their curriculum and services assist the TBIs to attend/succeed in collegiate endeavors and re-enter the work force. Jennison stated that educators have little knowledge about head injuries. Kay discussed, in his paper, "Selection and Outcome Criteria for Community-Based Employment: Perspectives, Methodological Problems and Options", how TBI rehabilitators should not pick up whatever tool is closest at hand" in the rehabilitation of the TBI, but should custom tailor the cognitive retraining to the individual. Without this custom tailoredness, the intellectual TBI emerges from cognitive retraining with little/no assistance for their cognitive deficits.

Contusions to the head, skull fractures, or skull lacerations are not necessary components for a person to have undergone a TBI. A car accident in which a person has suffered a whiplash, a sudden jerk to the head, can results in a TBI without the person's head ever hitting anything. The brain can rotate violently or bounce off the skull's inner walls, reacting similarly as when a bowl full of coagulated gelatin is shaken, causing stretching or snapping of microscopic fibers, axons, which send messages to nerve cells, neurons, within the brain. This disturbance to the mental functioning within the brain is called a concussion, even if the disturbance is brief. The person need not loose consciousness to suffer a concussion. During the concussion the axons can stretch, twist, bend, or snap. Some axons may swell or even disintegrate. The axons transmit brain messages. The myelin sheath surrounding and insulating the axons can also be damaged or destroyed in the same fashion as the axons. Concussions are now classified according to symptoms:

grade 1 concussion - "seeing stars", the person remains conscious, only momentary confusion, headaches, dizziness, some short-term memory loss, head clears quickly, no medical intervention.

grade 2 concussion - amnesia, nausea, ringing in the ears

grade 3 concussion - unconsciousness

Rest allows the brain to attempt to heal itself from a concussion. There are more neurons within the brain that were not previously used. Rest permits the brain to replace or repair the nerve connections. …