The main reason I set up this page and the next more specific pages about brain injury in daily life, is that after all my years of practice in a rehabilitation clinic, the effects of brain damage in daily life are still very much underestimated. People, even family members, even doctors, even neurologists, even psychiatrists, fail to see signs of brain damage in daily life. This page will tell you about the true stories of victims with brain damage. They tell their daily life stories in which a wealth of information is found about the effects of brain damage in their daily lives.
I have also wondered how it's possible that effects of brain damage are so unnoticed by family members, but more seriously by professionals. Has it to do with the lack of knowledge about the normal brain so that we do not link our behavior with brain functions? Don't we listen that good to the brain injured victims and their family? Do we only rely on neuropsychological tests to detect brain dysfunction?
Probably all above mentioned reasons do lead to an underestimation of brain damage effects in daily life. One clue for this conclusion is that professionals do indeed see a lot of emotional effects after a brain damage, especially depression and anxiety disorders. As if they are trained to see emotional disorders in their patients, and yes, they see them indeed. So much so that I doubt there is thát much depression after brain injury, contrary to what studies say. My experience is that most people within 1 year after their brain injury, are NOT depressed enough to call it rightfully a clinical depression. Usually this is 'just' grieving about something lost, a perfectly normal reaction. But still, many symptoms in a brain injured patient are seen as emotional disorders.
So, the knowledge of a professional does seem to have an influence on their detection of the effects after a brain damage. Another clue I do have for this is when I train junior psychologist. In the beginning when they meet a brain damaged patient they miss several signs of brain damage. That's perfectly normal because their knowledge about brain dysfunction is limited. However, their knowledge about emotional and behavioral disorders is - due to their study - far greater. So they present to me an analysis of the patient in which there are several emotional (psychiatric) disorders...However, rarely are they correct. They seem to misinterpret signs in a way that makes labeling easy but help all the more difficult. When someone with 'fresh' brain damage (say 2 months old) sits all day long on his couch at home, doing nothing with a flat face, watching and zapping television, he or she is plainly 'depressed' and needs an anti-depressant. Other alternative explanations are not given because of a lack of knowledge. The truth is that a lot of stroke patients (especially in the right hemisphere) have a flat face, hardly any spontaneous reactions, complain a lot about fatigue, not having any spirit or drive to 'do something', are glad to passively sit still and enjoy simple activities. No depression whatsoever! All effects of brain injury in the first couple of months. When interviewing these patients they certainly do not feel depressed or sad, they 'just simply like to sit still and watch television'.
So, the knowledge about brain injury is still very limited in most professionals, let alone in 'normal' family members. But also do we not listen closely enough to the stories of the brain injured patients. Or of their families. Such a wealth of information can be found there. Next to a good technical analysis with good neuropsychological tests (see the pages on Tests), the stories of brain damaged victims are worth millions. In more than 16 years of research and clinical practice, I have collected all those stories in my mind and I want to share them with you. Because I want you to recognize the effects of a brain injury on the daily lives of these patients. In order to understand and help them better. In order to make their lives a little bit better. But also to make the lives of the caregivers easier. And finally, to educate the professionals so they can give much better help than they already do.
In the following, more specific pages, I have written down many examples of how brain damage can have a negative effect (seldom it is a positive one) on daily life activities of these patients and their families. All examples were told by real brain damaged patients and/or their families and hold in them a wealth of information about how the damaged brain functions. I think these stories are moving...but they also are inspiring to all those who want to learn more about the brain, about injury to the brain, and about how to help these patients. Please use the following links which lead you to examples in activities such as driving, hobbies, sports, sex, relationships, self-care, school, work, social contacts.
Examples of brain injury symptoms in doing hobbies
Examples of brain damage effects on social contacts
Go to Sex, Intimacy and brain damage
Go to Raising kids after brain damage
Go to Self-care and brain injury
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