Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affects each unique individual in different ways. No two injuries are the same. What is common amongst those with brain injuries is that the recovery process takes many months and often years. Marla’s injuries have affected the left side of her brain in regions that deal with speech, language interpretation, and motor (muscle movement) function.
Aphasia is an impairment of the ability to use or comprehend words - often a result of stroke or head injury. Marla’s injuries have caused her to have difficulty speaking and understanding speech. There is no cure for aphasia, but with speech therapy and re-learning, the injured individual can often compensate for the deficits caused by their injuries.
Hemiparesis is weakness on one side of the body, usually caused by an injury to the brain or nervous system. Early on in her recovery, Marla’s left brain injury impaired her ability to control the muscles on the right side of her body since the left hemisphere of the brain controls right side movement. With physical and occupational therapy, Marla has regained much of her strength.
Proprioception is the perception or the sense of self-movement and body orientation in space. It is sometimes described as the “sixth sense”. Marla’s left-brain injury has impaired her sense of proprioception on the right side of her body. Ironically, this leaves her more prone to accidents and injuries. Marla has burn scars on her right arm from incidences during daily meal preparation when her arm came to rest on a hot kitchen item like a teapot. Her lack of proprioception causes her to be unaware of the “hot” and “pain” signals - and left her with a burn!
Also her impaired perception of the orientation and position of her right leg makes her more susceptible to trips, stumbles, and falls, for example when she might mis-judge a stair step. This has caused Marla to fall and injure both her knees (torn ligaments) and fractured her left wrist when bracing against a fall. Sadly, the lasting effects of her brain injury make injuries more likely in the future as she ages - creating new impacts for someone who has already endured so much.
Apraxia is a deficit in the ability to carryout skilled acts, frequently caused by brain injury. Apraxia is not used to describe deficits in motor power or mental capacity. There are several types of apraxia:
- Constructional apraxia is the inability to put together elements to form a meaningful whole.
- Ideational apraxia is loss of the ability to plan even a simple action.
- Ideokinetic apraxia, results in a loss of coordination between formation of ideas and motor activity; affected persons can do certain things automatically but not deliberately.
- Motor apraxia is the inability to perform fine motor acts.
Brain Injury Association of Colorado
Brain Injury Association of America
Brain Injury Information Network
Rancho Los Amigos Scale of Cognitive Assessment
TBI Survival Guide
The Whole Brain Atlas
TBI Model Systems
Lash and Associates Publishing/Training
Over My Head: A Doctor’s Personal Account of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out
Head Injury: The Facts: A Guide for Families and Care-Givers
Coping With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Confronting Traumatic Brain Injury : Devastation, Hope, and Healing
Conquering the Darkness : One Woman’s Story of Recovering from a Brain Injury