Monday, January 12, 2015

Cognitive Impairments

I found this information online about having Cognitive problems. I found it an interesting read. The list in the end is dead on.  

"Cognitive complaints, almost always, are the most disabling of the six types of impairments caused by a brain injury. They are most profound immediately after the injury when the survivor has very limited awareness.

During rehabilitation, cognitive abilities typically improve dramatically, but rarely fully. All but a handful of survivors of serious brain injuries experience major cognitive deficits.
In the past, it was believed that, after two years, people living with a brain injury made little or no progress in cognitive ability. New research, however, has demonstrated that recovery can, with effort, be a lifelong exercise.

Cognitive impairments — by themselves or in combination — cause many problems in daily life. Take reading, for example. One person has difficulty reading because her injury damaged the language centers of her brain. She can’t comprehend the meaning of many words. A second person struggles to read since her injury compromised her short-term memory. She can’t follow the flow of a story. A third cancelled her library card because her injury ravaged her ability to concentrate. She started a book twenty times and never got past the first page.

Neuropsychological testing is a tool rehabilitation therapists use to isolate the cognitive impairments — such as language, memory, and/or concentration — that cause a particular functional problem, such as difficulty reading.

Unlike physical complaints, which are easily diagnosed, cognitive impairments can be subtle. This is especially true with a package of higher-level cognitive abilities called executive functioning. We use our executive functioning abilities to do everything from making an egg salad sandwich to launching a spacecraft. The survivor and those around her often don’t recognize major deficits in this area until she returns home and reenters the community.

Memory almost always is impaired by a brain injury. 

Four types of memory can be affected, singly or in combination:
  • Short-term: the ability to hold a small amount of information for about twenty seconds
  • Long-term: the ability to hold and retrieve information for as little as a few days and as long as a few decades
  • Retrograde: the ability to recall events that occurred prior to the injury
  • Anterograde: the ability to recall events that occurred after the injury

Other common cognitive complaints include deficits in the following areas:

  • Attention
  • Comprehension
  • Concentration
  • Decision-making
  • Initiation
  • Judgment
  • Self-monitoring
  • Spatial orientation
  • Language comprehension
  • Safety awareness
  • Information processing
  • Learning new material 

Monday, January 5, 2015

In someone else' shoes

As I shared last week about the struggles I have been having with my "mental state" sometimes. Suddendly being hit by this wave of confusion and I will even go as far as saying turmoil... I have been looking on the bright side, that at least, my mental state is not suppose  to deteriorate.  Knowing that you are going to lose yourself a bit more every day is a very painful thought, so I am still hoping that my Neuropsychological testings will come back normal (as normal comes with my type of Brain injuries) and that my brain just gets "tired" easy, instead of having an illness like Alzheimer, where this type of dementia becomes constant after a while.

This photo shows perfectly what happens to the brain after it has been compromised. 

When I first saw this picture, I cried.  Realizing how true didnt only confirm to me that all the things I have been experiencing on the "after" side are indeed "normal", but because it made me realize that this was real, and not just me thinking I am going wacko.   The words  "Slow Processing", "Turmoil", "Poor Concentration", "Weak Memory", and occasionally "Emotional outburst" are what is the hardest for me to deal with. I am indeed dizzy, somewhat impulsive and lethargic,  but I am stronger at controlling those. At least I hope so.  

Another picture I saw is related to the way the new brain "hear" words and process them.  It is always a work out. It could be a lot worse. ALL of these could be a lot worse. I am not here sharing this for you to pity me, or just for me to complain to you on how rough it is. Not at all.  I just want to show that this is real.
It is very helpful to know how to help someone you care about with things that are difficult to them. 

That said:
(copying here what I wrote on my facebook page:)

I think it is so important in all aspect of life to put ourselves in someone shoes, or at least try to, with the intention of not only understanding, but feel compassion and maybe gain more patience. I know that those around me have to be very patient with me when I ask them to repeat the same word or sentence over and over again, or when I forget something despite being reminded... or forgot where I left this or that. watching this made me sad, more so from the reaction of the loved ones . I do not have Alzheimer like the experiment in this video, but the constant "driving you insane" noise, the forgetfulness, confusion, clumsiness... are oh so part of life now... I am blessed that my vision is fine and my mental state is not going to deteriorate. I have been very sensitive to the word "crazy" since my brain surgery/recovery and dealing with all those "invisible" deficits. Nobody is "crazy"... the DUI driver that kills a person for the second time, or the mom who OD's in front of her kid, now, these people are crazy... but someone who has had the unfortunate event to be hit by a illness like this, or have a brain injury, or whatever it is... please dont call them crazy... what makes you think that they wanted that for themselves more than you do?

Here is the video. I hope that you watch it fully realizing that this can happen to anybody.  Your spouse, your mother, your father, your sister, your best friend, even your child.