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Did you know that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month? I didn’t until I experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in June 2018 during an intense car accident. My personal experience has been with a concussion and resulting Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) that I continue to experience months after the accident. This challenging journey over the past nine months has been complex, but one of the things I’ve learned is that we have to do better in talking openly about things like brain injuries—including concussions.
The theme for the brain injury awareness campaign is #ChangeYourMind because there is such a mixture of lack of awareness, stigma, and misperception about brain injuries. I did not know much about these kinds of injuries, beyond knowing people I care about who have had concussions, before I personally experienced it. So even though I’ve been relatively private about my journey post-accident, I want to talk about it more here for that reason.
A concussion is a minor form of TBI. The phrase “traumatic brain injury” sounds a lot scarier than “concussion,” which makes me wonder if that’s part of why our society doesn’t take concussions very seriously. For example, as an athlete I remember trainers and coaches saying concussions aren’t that big of a deal and that doctors can’t do much more than bench you while you rest to recover. That is not accurate! Even though many concussions heal naturally within a few months, many people—like me—experience longer lasting issues. Those issues can be addressed in various forms through medical treatment!
My concussion went largely unaddressed until months after the accident, when I went to see an audiologist and ENT doctor about issues I’ve been having with my hearing post-accident (heyyyy tinnitus and possible auditory processing disorder!). Thankfully, the ENT asked me a lot of questions about things I’d been experiencing that I hadn’t even realized were symptoms. I had chalked them up to my mental health and a lingering trauma response. It turns out, they’re actually classic signs of PCS.
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