Brain injuries can be challenging for patients

I cannot comment other than to say that their experience was atypical to mine.

Editor: I read with interest your story (The Times, Feb. 7) on Brendan and his father’s experience with Redwoods Medical Clinic. I have been a patient of Dr. Ruth Demian and attended Redwoods many times over the last several years, most recently with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) or concussion from a work-related accident.

She and all the staff have been tireless in their support of me in my struggles to make sense of what happened and is happening to me. Every frontline staff member has spent time, over and above escorting me, in the consulting rooms.

Everything from extra assistance with WorkSafeBC (who have been very supportive as well) to simply listening to me as I babbled or cried or raved while working my way through the confusion that can result  from a blow to the head. Given my experience, I must say it was difficult for me to reconcile what happened with Brendan and his father at the clinic.

I was not there, I did not see or hear what transpired, and I cannot comment other than to say that their experience was atypical to mine.

Having said that, I would like to take the opportunity to share some of what I have learned about head injuries involving MTBI. Generally speaking, the first criteria for diagnosing concussion is loss of consciousness (LOC), headache, nausea and general confusion are also used as indicators in evaluating the condition. However, all or none of these may be present by the time an individual gets to see a doctor.

Young children especially seem to initially recover quickly and it can be very challenging for a physician or health care professional to diagnose accurately when the patient is not displaying any symptoms or, as a result of the blow to the head, cannot adequately describe what’s happening to them.

It is also not uncommon for symptoms to develop in the days that follow a blow to the head with no LOC and little or limited display of headache, nausea etc. at the time.

This list from Children’s Hospital, Boston is conditions to be aware of in the days that follow a blow to the head.

They are a raised, swollen area at the site of the blow, small, superficial (shallow) cut in the scalp, headache, sensitivity to noise and light, irritability, confusion, lightheadedness or dizziness, problems with balance, nausea, problems with memory or concentration, changes in sleep patterns, blurred vision, “tired” eyes, ringing in the ears, complaints of strange or altered taste or fatigue. There are other considerations as well.

If you, or your child (as in Brandon’s case), have received a blow to the head and are symptom free, you are still at higher risk of having problems should another accident (head blow) happen. People with multiple blows to the head often have more symptoms and take longer to recover.

Pay attention to your kids.  A change in behaviour could be as a result of a “couple of’ bumps to the ol’ noggin,” from something as seemingly innocent as heading a soccer ball.

In closing, I would like to thank Dr. Demian and all the staff for their able assistance to me, and offer my condolences to Brandon and dad for their troubles.

Rodney Norfolk,

Langley

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