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Acquired Brain Injury

Dried flowers in shape of brain

I contemplated displaying an image of the MRI scan from Sean's brain tumor. But the starkness still haunts me. Its ugly, irregular shape was too much to bear. I found this lovely photo of flowers in the shape of a brain and opted for this because I think of all the beauty that was born from our pain. There are lovely and charming sides to Sean that amaze many. Having God by my side transformed my seeds doubt into faith-filled flowers.

The descriptors below describe Sean more accurately than all of the many diagnoses he was given over the years by various psychiatrists. The definition of Acquired Brain Injury is: damage to the brain occurring after birth, not related to a congenital or degenerative disease. It is the impairment of normal brain function due to a neurological insult, select cerebral vascular lesions, hypoxic event (lack of oxygen) or intracranial tumor.

Deficits fall into the four major groups listed below:

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Difficulty in processing info (speed, accuracy and consistency)

  • Shortened attention span

  • Inability to understand abstract concepts

  • Impaired decision-making ability

  • Inability to shift mental tasks or follow multi-step directions

  • Memory loss or impairment

  • Language deficits

Perceptual Symptoms:

  • Change in vision, hearing and touch

  • Loss of sense of time and space, spatial disorientaion

  • Disorders of smell and taste

  • Altered sense of balance

  • Increased/decreased pain sensitivity

Physical Symptoms:

  • Persistent headache

  • Extreme mental and/or physical fatigue

  • Disorders of movement - gaiting, ataxia, spasticity and tremors

  • Seizure activity (traumatic epilepsy), Impaired small motor control

  • Photo-sensitivity

  • Sleep disorders

  • Paralysis

  • Slurred speech (poor muscle control) and/or poor breathing patterns

Behavioral/Emotional Symptoms:

  • Irritability and impatience

  • Reduced tolerance for stress

  • Lack of initiative, apathy

  • Dependence (failure to assume responsibility for one's actions)

  • Denial of disability

  • Lack of inhibition (aggression, cursing, inappropriate sexual behavior)

  • Inflexibility

  • Flattened or heightened emotional responses/reactions

This information changed my son's life for the better. Because he had been misdiagnosed for many years, this new revelation describing my son's disability was a God-send! For anyone who has suffered a brain injury, I hope the above list of symptoms lights your path to understanding.

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