Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are we there yet?

This feeling has been lurking for the past week or so. Am I better yet?

One thing that's helping right now is new research. I've been reading, and it's starting to make sense, how I was treated and why there's been such a battle to get my injury recognized. Among neurologists the conventional wisdom was that mild TBI clears up on its own over several months. Some people have symptoms that linger for a year.

It's been 3 years and 2 months. So the more I tell this story the more it's like, what's going on here? Why so long? Where's the end?

Two new findings help validate what I'm going through:
  1. It turns out that the estimated 20% of people with mTBI that have lingering symptoms (for up to 1 year it was thought) has probably been underreported. Their lingering difficulties tend to be with headache, fatigue, inattention, and forgetfulness.
    The underreporting makes sense. Why would the patient initiate contact with the neurologist in order to report vague, lingering symptoms that the neurologist can't fix? Leaves them both wondering what the purpose of the appointment really is.
  2. A study published in the January 2012 issue of the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology shows that young adults who had sustained an mTBI in their distant past had lasting changes in working memory. For over half of participants, it was 5 years or longer since their head injury.
    There is a silver lining to this result; those with lasting memory effects took longer to perform the test but actually were more accurate than the control group! Researchers think that the injury trained their brains to slow down and focus more effectively.
Given a choice, I'd rather be in the group without lingering symptoms. I'd rather be 100% better today! But to have what's going on backed up by objective data is a relief. A big relief.

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