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Domestic Violence and Abuse

Understanding Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

[opening music] We’re Here to Help You Navigate the Brain Maze [music] Understanding Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Traumatic brain injury is when the brain is traumatized. It can be from an external force, it can be from a bleed in the brain, but when you’re talking about a traumatic brain injury, it’s usually when there’s
a force that’s applied to the head. It could be mild, it could be very, very hard. We usually classify traumatic brain injuries
along a continuum, anywhere from what we consider
mild traumatic brain injuries up to more severe traumatic brain injuries. I was in a car accident. I was in Washington, D.C. I was a senior economist
at an environmental think tank, and I was trying to merge into traffic
by the Lincoln Memorial, so very iconic. The person who hit me, hit me from behind. I wasn’t really aware of some of the
symptoms that were beginning to emerge. I knew I was having headaches and so it was sort of a process of discovery over a fairly long period of time. The problems with adding happened
in maybe the first two weeks, where it was clear to others that something was wrong. Mild traumatic brain injuries often are where
there’s no loss of consciousness. In fact, about 90% of the time there’s not a loss of consciousness
in mild traumatic brain injuries. A lot of individuals consider a concussion to be the same as mild traumatic brain injuries. In fact, a lot of times the terms are used interchangeably. Usually a concussion is kind of a more milder mild traumatic brain injury
if you really want to split hairs. I’ve had four concussions in total diagnosed. The first one was in eight grade. I was just playing basketball with my friends.
We were just screwing around. I was taking a jump shot
around the three point line, no big deal. One of my friends pushed me in the chest
as I was shooting and I kind of rolled back. I didn’t like, land on my back. I rolled back and my head hit the court. From then on I just remember
I was looking at the roof for about five minutes until someone came over
and started talking to me. The coach took me over to the nurse and from then I went to the doctor, and I was told that I had a concussion. A concussion is a metabolic disruption. When the brain is functioning normally, what you have is chemicals on the outside of the cell
and chemicals on the inside, and this is how the brain functions metabolically. What happens in a concussion is if it’s hit, the brain cells will lose their shape and the chemicals on the outside go inside, and the chemicals on the inside are forced outside. When those get mixed up,
the brain is not functioning properly. Every brain injury is different
because every person is different, and the way the symptoms manifest
are going to be different in every person, so you and the people around you
are the best judge of what’s normal for you. It was terrifying to have somebody greet me as if they knew me very well and not know who it was. Any type of traumatic brain injury or head injury
needs attention initially. Some of the symptoms that we see after a concussion can vary greatly, but the most common is headache. You can have headache, sensitivity to light,
sensitivity to sound. You can have balance problems.
You can see blurred vision. You can have double vision. They can become more emotional.
They can get very angry and irritable. Confusion, fatigue,
are very very common symptoms that we see after a concussion. There were a few times,
like the next time I had a concussion, that I was playing football, when I was questioning whether or not I even wanted to go to a doctor about it. I knew that I had a really bad head problem after I got hit and I continued practicing for about forty-five minutes. Then I threw up and after I threw up I realized that something was wrong. That was the end of my football career, pretty much. When it comes to concussions,
you’re a student first and an athlete second. It’s very important that
an athlete who sustained a concussion be able to function at school prior to return to competition. No symptoms,
cognitively intact, doing well at school,
then return to play. It’s just as important for the adults to follow the same idea of a gradual return to work. The harder they push, the more symptoms they have, the longer or more protracted
their concussion is going to be. I wanted to get back to work.
I wanted to get back to my life. I wanted to get back to my athletics. One part of your brain is saying,
“I used to be able to do this” and the other part of your brain
is clearly not able to do it. The typical time course
for recovery from concussion often varies. It varies for ages
and it varies for the individual. It’s been a long journey.
My brain is still getting better. I guess the thing to tell you
is that a lot of people are told that they can’t get better after one or two years
from a brain injury. And I have gotten a lot better. You’re going to get through it.
Your body is going to recover. And if you are really open with like, your teachers and your coaches
and your friends about it, people are going to try to help you.
No one wants to see you suffer. It’s medical resiliency skills of recognizing that there are
ups and downs in everybody’s life, and with a brain injury, the ups can be higher sometimes,
but the downs can be much lower and I guess that’s why cognitive rehab was able to help me turn my life around. Some of it is just recognizing,
“This too shall pass.” Right? “This too shall pass.” In the immediate future for me,
I’m going to University of Denver for college. My plan is to get a five year MBA because they have a program for that. I’m going to see what college basketball has in store. I really want to see what the workload is like first year and if I think that I can manage it, I might try a second year because honestly I’ll have had like at least a year off from concussions, hopefully, is the plan. If I really, really want to do it still,
I think I might give it a go. The Office of Acquired Brain Injury
is a tremendous resource. We are a small office with big heart, and we make it our business to reach out
and know what’s going on, to find those resources that are really hard to find and to take the time to really listen to your story, and to understand and appreciate
what you are going through. [music] We’re Here to Help You Navigate the Brain Maze Office of Acquired Brain Injury

Cesar Sullivan

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