Posted on April 7, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Fred

Previous Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Fred Part Seven

In our Elizabeth story, we discussed at length the cumulative impact of her second, mild TBI on her overall disability.  Elizabeth’s recovery from her severe TBI was progressing nicely until she suffered a concussion in a fall during her return to work. Since that concussion, she has been unable to work.  With Fred, it was a previous mild traumatic brain injury. While it might be easy to conclude that it was thus irrelevant, we have concerns that lack of treatment for this previous mild traumatic brain injury may have played a part in the the circumstances that resulted in his DUI wreck.  What makes the Fred situation even more puzzling is that his father was also a previous mild traumatic brain injury survivor.  Explains Fred the circumstances of his previous mild traumatic brain injury and his recent TBI:

I believe that the path (of) treating people with brain injuries is, is really good, because I’m actually the descendant of a brain injury.  My father had a brain injury when he was a young kid, and they didn’t know about brain injuries when he was young, so they just thought he was being a misbehaved child and his grades went from really good to really low, and so he got pushed through school and then he just basically had to fight to put everything together to get fixed and I can see a lot of problems that he has that aren’t, that are brain-related injury problems and some, some problems that I have, they’re the same as his, but a lot of the problems he has I’m not suffering from because of the treatment that I’ve gone through.

Such as?

I’m, have to think of them.  I have a better memory, which is funny, because he doesn’t have the best memory.  He’ll, he’ll forget to do things and there, and then his concentration, he can’t multitask very, he can’t really do more than one thing, and he’ll, yeah he starts one thing and then forgets he was doing something else, and.

The Relevance of a Previous Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Fred mentioned a concussion several times in the conversation, so we asked him how he would compare his injury and his previous mild traumatic brain injury to a concussion.

It’s pretty much a concussion times a thousand, 2,000, 20,000.  I’m not sure exactly.  It’s severely different than a concussion, because I’ve had multiple concussions and this was very different. When I was younger, when I was a kid.

One of them I was, I remember playing kick the can with my friends and I got to the can right before the person trying to tag me and we kind of collided and slipped, and as she landed on my head, her butt on my head and that gave me a concussion.  There was one years before that was my brother and I were playing with our tree fort and we had logs up in it for some reason.  And he was throwing the logs out of it and I thought he was done throwing the logs, and I walked underneath and he threw a log out and it hit me in the head and it knocked me out.  And then I can’t think of the other, any other situations where I would have had a severe concussion, but there was, I’m fairly sure there’s other times when I definitely could have had concussions.

I got hit in the head by the log and I was unconscious.  It knocked me clean out.  I hit the ground.  I ended up bleeding, severely bleeding all over my body and I lost control of my bladder.  And this is that much worse because, well, considering how long, well, I was unconscious for a period of time, a lot longer than one hour.  And also the, the injury, I mean, I had a concussion, I had a, I have a bump on my head that’s not gonna go anywhere from that log, but that’s not gonna hurt me.

The significance of that concussion became more of a concern when he revealed that he had anxiety problems before his severe accident that may have been caused by his previous mild traumatic brain injury.  When asked about the anxiety from the severe TBI, he said this:

I’m not sure how my accident affected my anxiety, but I was diagnosed with anxiety, like they said it was a bad anxiety before my accident.  That was when I was high school age.  And I’ve had anxiety ever since then.  But I don’t, I’m not sure how, how bad it is.  I mean, it’s, it’s obviously bad enough because I get nervous and whatnot.

Untreated Previous Mild Traumatic Brain Injury May Have Caused Problems in Young Adulthood

It is always hard to sort out abnormal neurobehavior from normal young adult problems.  Fred’s issues before hand could certainly be explained by the latter, but they also fit clearly within what you might see as the long term symptoms of a significant  previous mild traumatic brain injury  as the one he suffered.

I’m glad the accident happened because my life was going nowhere, and, I mean it’s, it’s kind of, it’s cynical but, I mean, now I have free college and I’ll be able to go to college and be able to get a job that I want to do.

I’m not directly working on my education.  I want to, I did go to the tech and I took a class to where it would find out what kind of a job I would want to do, and it pointed me actually towards the kind of career that was in the back of my mind, and I was thinking about going into being a therapist, a speech therapist, because I remember the therapy that I had and I, how much I liked that, and the speech therapy was my favorite because of the work.

Were you a good student in high school?

No.  I believe that it will be a lot easier than it was in high school, because the reason I wasn’t a good student in high school, it had nothing to do with the fact that I couldn’t think.  I’m definitely good at thinking, but  (I was) addicted to drugs and alcohol throughout high school and that, that continued up until well March 20.  That’s a part of my life that’s never goning to come back, and I believe that that will help, and then the support that I have is, I have a lot of support to help me, and I can always reach out and ask people for help if I need it.

We have often commented on the lingering symptoms from an untreated previous mild traumatic brain injury.  See Fred’s issues are not easier to sort out than those of Ben Roethlisberger.  But they both share a history of a previous mild traumatic brain injury, with a significant loss of consciousness.  The good news for both is that they have gotten treatment, if belated. In Fred’s case his previous mild traumatic brain injurymay have been treated only because he suffered another brain injury only this time severe.

Next in Part Eight – Believe in Nothing Short of a Miracle

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447