“You mean I’m not crazy?!” That phrase may sound like a weird way to start an article about brain injury, but that is one of the most common statements we hear. At our retreats, one area of our focus is mild traumatic brain injury. An mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) is what we call the moment when someone injures their head. The symptoms that follow and often linger are known as post concussive syndrome. After learning about the signs and symptoms of brain injury and working with a neurofeedback provider, many service members are surprised to learn that some of the difficulties they have are not just attributed to post traumatic stress. In essence, they are able to connect the dots, receive validation that these symptoms are real, see how their brain is working in real time, learn that they are not alone, and know that things like difficulty finding words, balance problems, and a host of other symptoms can be treated.
A brain injury can occur when the brain is either shaken inside the skull, hit against the skull in one or more places, or when a foreign object breaks through the scalp. The term “mild” does not refer to the symptoms of the injury, but rather the fact that the injury is typically not detectable on imaging equipment like an MRI and the person is still able to function, although they may not be functioning as well as they were prior to the injury. For many years people were told that there was nothing that could be done for post concussive syndrome but that is not the case. The brain is an amazing organ that has the property of elasticity. The brain can learn and create new pathways around damaged areas. There are things you can do and there is help and hope for recovery. If you or someone you know believes they may have post concussive syndrome, seek help! The first step is to get an evaluation and then your provider can help you create a plan for optimal brain health.
If you or a loved one is a veteran who has been exposed to a blast, or has suffered a concussion or other head injury during combat that currently causes symptoms, visit https://lonesurvivorfoundation.org/service-members/ to learn about our no-cost therapeutic retreats.
Jennifer Street, LCSW
LSF Team Leader