There’s a reason that brain injury specialists, like Dr. Chantal Vaidyanath, call their brain injury victims “The Walking Wounded”. Brain injury victims, like those who suffer from mental illness, face the challenge of symptom stigma. Many people do not understand, empathize or recognize with the very real and life-altering challenges these victims face. At Pace Law, our relationship with Dr. Vaidyanath allows us to fully understand the extent of our clients’ injuries, therefore helping them receive the full extent of coverage and medical treatment they need to live their lives.
We talked with Dr. Vaidyanath recently so she could tell us all about what these hidden symptoms of the Walking Wounded really are. Here are some widely misunderstood symptoms:
Many victims with serious brain injury suffer denial of their symptoms. A condition called anosognosia leaves these victims with a lack of insight. It prevents them from being able to look within and realize what’s currently wrong with them. This lack of insight can be so severe that patients may not even recognize why they would be unsafe driving, crossing the street or climbing a ladder. You can imagine how this condition would cause great challenges not only in the life of the victims, but also their families and work lives.
Brain injury victims are commonly categorized as lazy by friends, family or members of their community. The truth is, even motivation is affected after a head injury. Victims, without choice, may become apathetic, lethargic and unmotivated because of damage to their frontal lobe.
A major challenge that brain injury victims face is a change in their behaviour. This could translate to a lack of speech control (disinhibition), or even a change in their personality and mood. Family members are especially important in helping to notice these symptoms and helping the victim handle the impairment. If a loved one is behaving differently, don’t get upset. Understand that the change is not their fault and stay supportive while they battle through their injury.
The cognitive functions we take for granted everyday are usually some of the most disrupted functions for a brain injury victim. Attention, memory, analyzing and problem-solving, organizing, planning, judgement and decision-making; these are just some of the inherent brain functions that may no longer function properly for a brain injury victim. The consequences of these impairments affect a victim’s career and income, their personal relationships and even the relationship they have with themselves.
Above all else, make sure to show care, patience and empathy to those with cognitive impairment. If you or a loved one has been affected by a head injury, never hesitate to contact your health professional, as well as a legal professional, to immediately begin the process of getting the level of care needed for recovery.