Of all the cases I have worked on, victims of a head trauma face some of the most difficult and challenging medical and social obstacles. The victim is often reluctant to admit to a head injury at all due to the perceived social stigma involved. Frequently, there is also an element of denial.
I recall one conversation I had with a client who had recently suffered a concussion from a head-on collision with a big-rig. I asked how his recovery was coming along and he replied that he was doing well and was looking forward to returning to work the following week. After hanging up the phone and, while I sat at my desk making notes of the conversation, the phone rang again. I recognized the client’s phone number and picked up expecting to hear my client’s voice. I was surprised by the voice of my client’s wife speaking in a hushed tone. She said she had been listening in on our conversation and that her husband was far from fine. She said that while he had always been even tempered before the accident, he had starting snapping angrily at everyone around him and he had become much more aggressive and erratic. She also he would ask questions and after getting an answer, ask the same question again within just a few minutes. I brought them in for a meeting and after some coaxing my client agreed to see a neuropsychologist. My client was diagnosed with a post-concussive disorder and begun on cognitive therapy. The client did recover after nearly a year of therapy and his case eventually settled for a significant figure. The point here is the client didn’t consciously realize the change in his personality. It was his family who alerted me to the problem. If you have a family member who has suffered a head injury do not be afraid to speak up and get them help.
In the last year there has been a tremendous amount of new medical data that has been of great assistance to the victims head trauma.
Some frequently asked questions about head injury:
1. Doesn’t a person have to be knocked unconscious to be diagnosed with a concussion? No. Often a person may only suffer from a brief period of confusion or just feel“spaced out”for a few minutes.
2. What are some of the symptoms of a concussion? As stated above there might just be a few minutes of feeling confused or spaced out. There can also be a period of repetitive questioning where the victim asks a question and then after receiving an answer asks it again in just a few moments. The brain is not processing information correctly. There can be mild to severe headaches, an inability to tolerate light or noise or a loss of short term memory. There can be subtle or profound changes in personality or behavior.
3. How is a concussion diagnosed? Severe concussions can result in a sub-dural hematoma that is an area of bleeding on the brain and can be diagnosed with a CT or MRI scan. Less severe concussions do not appear on CT or MR scans with today’s technology and need to be diagnosed clinically. A clinical diagnosis is made from a doctor’s examination and questioning of the patient.
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