About Brain Injury
*Why people struggle with prolonged symptoms and outcomes
*Dealing with social and cultural problems
*Working out what is broken
When we understand the causes of our problems, it is easier to find solutions.
The more we know, the more we can help ourselves.
Information brings change
For those living with a brain injury learning all you can helps with both understanding what you are experiencing and going through, and also helps you to work out what is broken so that you can work on fixing it. Understanding why you may have fallen through the ‘medical net’ can also help because you will know where to direct your energy to – and that you can!
Furthermore, understanding helps us to educate and inform others alleviating the frustration and pain of not being understood.
How do problems start?
Very often / sometimes:
- there is a lack of information given at the outset, so people struggle with understanding.
- no formal diagnosis is given, leading people to think there isn’t very much wrong.
- people are not referred to specialist services because their injury is not immediately life-threatening, and are left to struggle alone.
- the severity of trauma to the brain is ‘missed’ because other injuries take precedence.
- there is a lack of cultural awareness so people are not empowered to ask questions or ask for further help
- there can still be a lack of awareness amongst general practitioners
The domino effect
There is a beginning to all the negative outcomes that often follow brain injury, which create the grounds for a multitude of problems to start…
There are a multitude of non-medical issues that arise for almost everyone following a brain injury, and, these are not just limited to those who suffer physical trauma, but can also happen to those who have had a stroke, suffer from degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, or to those who have neurological surgery, such as cancer patients.
These non-medical issues can range from a lack of understanding and support, right through to people being made homeless or to being incarcerated.
Any of the following instances can happen anywhere in the world. There isn’t a leading country who have closed all of these loopholes – there are a lot of them!
It all starts here:-
- Medical advisory boards fail to ensure that basic training about the brain is included within the training curriculum for non-specialist medical personnel, doctors specialising in other fields, and general practitioners. There is no ‘standard’ when it comes to the brain. This includes triage nurses, ER doctors and staff.
- In general, only doctors specialising in neurological fields are taught about brain injury. This does not include all psychological or psychiatric disciplines, although there are specialist fields.
- Depending on the severity of symptoms following a whiplash, or knock or blow to the head, people will either visit their own GP or an ER. The same thing occurs following non-physical neurological symptoms.
- If the condition of the patient is not deemed life-threatening they will not be referred to a neurologist – or any other specialist.
- Even when people are referred to a neurologist if the injury does not require surgery, people are usually dismissed from the list and the care of the patient is returned to the GP – who may also assume nothing is wrong, and also dismiss the patient.
- Even when surgery has been performed, many people are not referred for on-going specialist support.
- Even when there is a need for specialist rehabilitation, not everyone is referred for this.
- If there are no ‘penetrating’ wounds many people are simply sent home and told to take an aspirin.
- Very few hospitals, or general practitioners, give any information to patients following a head injury. Some do occasionally hand out simple leaflets, but these often fail to give adequate information or information that is presented in an understandable way.
The domino effect perpetuates the further down the line you go. We know that problems take a natural route of progression and that this is intensified the further from the source they get.
The thing is, if the first loophole was closed, this would close the rest of the problems, and with all of the loopholes closed, the ‘negative’ outcomes people experience would automatically diminish.
In effect, by changing one thing we can change many. This action would save the world economy billions of dollars. Australian researchers have shown that it is more cost-effect to treat neurological patients than it is to dismiss medical needs.
In the meantime, people struggle with the consequences of these root problems because:-
- Families tend to underestimate the severity of ‘unseen’ injuries when doctors fail to give a diagnosis, a follow-up appointment, or a referral to specialist services
- Families tend to dismiss ‘hidden’ needs when no information has been given
- People tend to treat those who are injured as though they are struggling with psychological upset or trauma, rather than being able to recognise neurological changes and deficits
- Health professional fail to understand needs
- Insurance companies fail to provide adequate cover for treatment
- Politicians can feel blindfolded – because no one is telling them where the problems start – they are blindsided by problems – not solutions.