Mind Your Mind: The Emotional Effects of TBIs
In last week’s blog, we focused on Traumatic Brain Injuries and the physical effects an injury of this magnitude can have on an individual. Today, we are going to talk about the emotional effects of TBI and how detrimental these effects can be to a person’s personality. When a person has a grievance of this magnitude inflicted upon their brain, they can become disoriented and frustrated because their ability to think clearly is compromised. Changes within the brain often result in withdrawal, depression, and difficulties time socializing and connecting with friends and family (Larsen, 2008).
My family knows how greatly a TBI can affect a person’s life, as my dad suffered from one when he was 16 years old and has never quite been the same. The summer going into my dad’s senior year he was competing in a track meet and pole vault was his main event. His personal record was 15 ft 6 in (which was also the town record), and he was expected to surpass that by at least a foot with the upcoming track season. My dad’s success in this sport was recognized by colleges across the country, as he had 10 scholarship offers by the end of his junior year. However, during this particular track meet on that rainy summer afternoon, my dad’s life was changed forever. Since the weather had been less than optimal, my dad decided he wanted to get a jump in at 12 ft 6 in, just to warm up and get his body familiar with the environment. He set himself up at his mark, sprinted with his pole, and vaulted himself up attempting to clear his starting height. Although he cleared the height, he did not land on the mat and his head smashed into the metal box. When the paramedics arrived on the scene, my dad was barely hanging on to life and was considered dead for 3 seconds. Thankfully the paramedics were able to revive him on the scene with CPR and they rushed him off to the ER.
The severity of this accident left my dad devastated, as he could no longer participate in any kind of sport his senior year. He lost all of his scholarships and his sense of identity, as his passion was suddenly taken away from him. All my dad ever wanted was to be a collegiate athlete, so you can imagine the emotional battle he was constantly having to fight. Prior to his injury, my dad was considered to be a cool, calm and collected character. He was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, with high aspirations and goals. After his injury, my dad became this frustrated, short tempered person that could not cope with his reality. My dad’s entire personality changed, and my family to this day still talks about how terrifying it was as they almost did not recognize him anymore. Although it seemed impossible, my dad did eventually overcome the effects of his TBI through the support of his faith and family. I will always be grateful for this because without my dad’s recovery, I would have never had the opportunity to be raised by the loving man he is today.
Traumatic Brain Injuries have the ability to turn a person’s entire world into darkness. It can leave an individual completely confused and wreck their emotional stability. This is exactly what happened to my father, and my only wish is that counseling had been recommended to him after his accident, as his physical effects were healed but his emotional trauma haunted him for years. I think a big part of the reason he struggled with his psychological impairments for so long is because he did not fully understand what was happening to him. It is for this reason that it is so important to understand the emotional effects of TBI, since addressing these issues can drastically improve the manner in which someone recovers.
If you or your loved one has had a TBI and you identify with any of the symptoms described above, TOPPS strongly encourages you to reach out to a therapist that can help. Emotional health should be taken just as seriously as physical injury, so if someone you know is struggling emotionally, think of it as a broken leg that needs to be treated (Dijikers, 2004). The psychologists at TOPPS are highly trained to work with these sorts of emotional wounds and we would be happy to help you in your recovery.
Dijikers, M. (2004, April). Quality of life after traumatic brain injury: a review of research approaches and findings. Retrieved March 21, 2018, from http://www.archives-pmr.org/article/S0003-9993(04)00083-8/fulltext#section.0070
Larsen , D. (2008, February). Understanding Brain Injury. Retrieved March 07, 2018, from https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/bm/bm08/bm0802/bm080214.htm