I am frequently instructing parents to keep their son/daughter on “Brain Rest” following a concussion (also known as “mild traumatic brain injury”). “Brain Rest” is critical and can prevent/ reduce serious and harmful long-term effects. Too often, this recommendation is met with resistance, denial and reservation.
My 15 year-old, Adam, suffered a blow to his head during basketball practice this week. Symptoms of concussion surfaced immediately.
I proceeded to explain what “Brain Rest” involves:
- no school
- no homework
- no physical exercise
- no computer use or Facebook
- no XBOX
- no text messages
I knew that I was asking a great deal from Adam. In essence, I was depriving him of everything that matters to him right now in his world. My son, like a normal teenager, is a product of a generation that is constantly bombarded with external stimulation and is never apart from his iPhone. He does not want to be cut off from his friends and his sports.
The first few days were hard. Adam does not know what to do without his phone, friends or Xbox.
I get 20 phone calls the first day:
- When will I get better?
- I’m sick and tired of this!
- I feel better now!
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Last Sunday (5/5/13), I watched a segment on 60 Minutes entitled: “Invisible wounds of war”. The show focused on veterans who sustained traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Public awareness of TBI is slowly increasing, primarily as a result of greater exposure by the media to sports and combat related injuries.
Yet, we still have a long way to go!
Most people with mild traumatic brain injury are still subjected to misconceptions about their condition. The general public still believes it is easy to fake a brain injury. Surprisingly, symptoms of brain injury manifest long after the initial event. Even doctors (and other professionals) often do not appreciate the multiple symptoms associated with mild TBI and fail to give it the recognition and legitimacy it deserves. Routine conventional imaging such as CT scan does not always indicate evidence of brain injury, even though it exists.
This was dramatically brought home in the 60 minutes segment, which showed the latest brain scanning technology, which is unavailable to the vast majority of individuals. This new technology often displays evidence of brain injury that was not evident on conventional CT scanning.
For me, the most moving part of the segment was when retired Army Major Richards, who suffered from brain injury, was shown his scan.>> Read more
Mental illness or brain injury is responsible for devastating the lives of many innocent people. I see it OVER and OVER again.
Our focus as a society is wrong!
Regardless of whether we are dealing with mental illness or brain injury- we should provide adequate and ongoing treatment to people who need it.
We need to be proactive- not reactive.
Unfortunately insurance companies represent a major stumbling block for people battling with brain injury and psychiatric illness. Insurance companies are not concerned with the quality of care but only about the bottom line… money.
There is a direct relationship between socioeconomic factors and quality of care. Only those individuals, who can afford to pay for private doctors, get needed support. If you have a decent insurance plan, you have a better chance of succeeding. If you are poor, you are not going to get the help you need.
Occasionally, rather than getting the appropriate treatment, patients will get the option that best satisfies the greed of the insurance plans. Admittedly, I have seen colleagues and fellow psychologists also exploit the system so they can get paid.
From my standpoint, as a therapist, this makes me very angry. I would like nothing more than to provide people with quality care and not let insurance companies dictate what I should do.>> Read more
A sudden brain injury of a loved one impacts on many lives. For the caregiver (i.e., spouse, child or parent) it marks the onset of a winding, unpredictable and exhausting journey full of uncertainty and fear.
Over the last 25 years of practicing psychology, I have repeatedly observed that even those individuals, who appear really strong, need extra support during this period.
As one of my patients remarked:
“No one can grasp the reality of my life in which nothing is the same as it used to be…”
The following suggestions may help you:
- Do not isolate yourself. Loneliness and feelings of alienation are prevalent and contagious. Force yourself to socialize (meet a friend for lunch).
- Allow yourself to receive help from others. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help.
- Try to establish some kind of routine in your day.
- Take care of your body and exercise. Make sure you are eating healthy food and not drinking too much alcohol.
- Find a support group for people undergoing similar experiences. This will give you the reassurance and unconditional support you will most likely need.
- Alternatively, see a therapist who specializes in trauma. The emotional impact of the illness is likely to take its toll.
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I want to wish you a Happy New Year filled with peace, laughter and many successes.
This past year has seen changes in my professional life and I want to share this with you. I am now working at Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains with people who have suffered head injuries. This includes individuals with TBI, PTSD, stroke, assault victims, veterans and athletes of all ages and backgrounds. It feels great to be back in the Rehab setting, the place where I started my career.
One split second can change a life forever. Almost every day, I meet with individuals and their families helping them to Move A Head.
Please feel free to share this blog with anyone who may be interested.
With warm regards and best wishes,
Heidi>> Read more
I am thrilled to announce the launch of my new blog.
One split second can change a life forever. Almost every day, I meet with individuals whose identities have been tragically “taken” from them from right under their feet.
My day is devoted to helping these individuals. Everyone is equal, regardless of ethnic background, education, upbringing and profession. You all struggle with the same losses, frustrations and isolation.
Why is there so much prejudice against people who suffer brain injury?
- Our society fails to acknowledge and help individuals who are suffering from brain injury.
- Brain injuries, unlike other physical injuries, are invisible. People may look good on the outside, but have significant problems dealing with every single moment of their day.
- Brain injury is confusing to people who don’t have one. It is called the “invisible illness.”
- Acquaintances, friends, family and co-workers do not understand the permanence and seriousness of the injury.
- People very often believe that those individuals suffering with TBI are not trying hard enough to get better. People often believe that patients are lazy, unmotivated and lying.
- Frustration often occurs, and splits families, friends and others when TBI issues manifest.
But hope is on the way
- Head injury is slowly getting the attention it so desperately deserves.
- The media, including internet, television and newspapers, are starting to highlight relevant news about this long overdue subject.
- Large number of war veterans and athletes are being diagnosed everyday with head injuries
It is overwhelming for you to shift through this yourself! In this blog, I will selectively post suggestions that I know can help change your life.
I want you to have the right advice and support to tackle all the unknown obstacles lying ahead for you.
- What can I expect my future to be like?
- What help should I get and from where?
- Are there new Apps that can help me navigate more reliably through my day?
I am tired of seeing all the biases to which you are subjected!
This blog is a platform for each and every one of you to voice your concerns and get much-needed support from one another and also from me. That is why I decided to have this blog: It is to help and provide you with practical advice.
If you have a question or a topic that you need to understand, please let me know.
Everyday, I am humbled and inspired by each one of you. We need to unite.
This blog is dedicated to all the wonderful individuals I meet with everyday, whose lives and stories need to be heard!
Together lets change the world and the biases! I urge you to speak up and make your voice heard. Pass this blog and the Face-book page along to your friends and relatives. It is certainly the right moment in time to do this!
Lets Move A Head!
Dr. Heidi Spitz firstname.lastname@example.org