Brain Awareness Week 2007
March 13, 2007 19:10
The intricacies of the brain, consciousness and the grasp that it is okay to be different:-
The year was 1993 or perhaps 1994, I lived in Zimbabwe and the past time that I most enjoyed was horse riding in the Veld near Sunset.
On this occasion….I was being brave. I had learned to canter so it was time to jump. An arena, an enthusiasm, the taste of speed and miscalculation and there was change, I went over the horse and under the horse.
Outcome: private emergency ambulance – a team who I will never know who most likely saved my life. There was only one elderly man as Neurosurgeon in Zimbabwe at that time. From there life became a pilgrim path of exploration and many bumps and turns on the road.
Welcome to Brain Awareness Week. Let us all take the opportunity to learn about the brain, about acquired brain injury, about diseases of the brain, about mental health implications,
Funding is needed in particular for areas of rehabilitation. Let us look in earnest to the Government, to socially and ethically responsible public companies, to philantropy and to Minister Cowen’s (Minister for Health, later Taoiseach) ability to set up a fund whereby families can get tax benefits and give donations to their own family members, when badly affected by brain injury. To sustain a traumatic brain injury is a life sentence but there is always a nugget – the experience gained suggests, seek the inherent talent and then nurture it. It is after all okay to be different.
We are constantly informed when we ask for help and advice that no head injury is the same. The confidence of the neurosurgeon in Ireland in the 1990’s is now undermined because MRI and neuroscience which in particular has made such advances. The internet is the adaptive technology that opens doors to the ever inquiring mind that a person who sustains a traumatic brain injury needs to engage with.
Can’t believe it is 2007, 2003 the body seemed to give up because I sought to use the head too much. They call it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and it is just that. It is that drop dead exhaustion that consumes you to the point that all you seem to do is sleep. You become agoraphobic, fearful of people, fearful of constantly falling over, dreading the phone; the reason is that your system can’t cope. The sound from the phone caused me to freeze rigid and likewise the doorbell.
Today I note in the Irish Times – Professor Ian Robertson from Trinity is to give a lecture in the Institute of Neuroscience. I became acquainted with Professor Robertson’s book on Mind Sculptor as I hoked around bookshops in Dublin trying to add little droplets of light to my very dark brain. Tomorrow’s lecture is about bizarre twists of self awareness; there are to be revelations and I can’t wait to be enlightened; the enlightenment is how I cope with the existence.
Consciousness in the case of traumatic injury is impacted by same; a myriad of factors change it substantially. One dimensional tires the body so much faster but the greatest gift I have been given is a partner who had time to give and with character. KT decided to we should have a dog and the breed (no choice) a rescue dog became my closest friend. Between them, they have coaxed me out for a walk to Upper Baggot Street Village, a coffee at O’Briens and gradually to interact with people again
To return to Professor Ian Robertson, Trinity Neuroscience, and the lecture the Institute of Neuroscience – Good Luck tomorrow. Think of those who do not die in road traffic accidents, think always of the marvelous work done by the Neurologists in hospitals like Beaumont, St. James, Mater and then think about life for these people after the National Rehabilitation Hospital. Funds are badly needed. Ireland is one of the most underfunded countries in Europe in relation to Neurology.
Thank you to the Institute of Neuroscience in Trinity and to the endeavours of all involved in the work of research and making the outcomes general knowledge.
A quotation from Friedrich Nietzche, Philosopher
‘Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path that they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal’
(Amended: 22nd August 2015)
WordPress.com permits me to edit and correct many spelling mistakes; inconsistencies that open publishing does not permit.
BRAIN AWARENESS WEEK 2008
I have just heard that it is Brain Awareness week a year on since I started writing on this topic.
We know that if people have cancer, the body politic is shouting out for the provision of Centres of Excellence. For illnesses under the headings of neurology and psychiatry, it appears to be quite the opposite. Funding under these headings ranks them close to the bottom in the EU listing. I suppose the disadvantage being that the outcome is not so rewarding, it is basically rehabilitative with low potential of upwardly mobile earnings wealth potential.
The National Rehabilitation Hospital does outstanding work but the follow on provides a different picture. People with acquired/traumatic brain injury are often left to the resources of homes for the elderly or family, if spouse/partner decides to opt out and not participate in the recovery or rehabilitative process.
Excellent work is carried out by the Peter Bradley Foundation, Headway and others but this is only a drop in ocean when one considers the number of people who sustain head injuries in traffic accidents, due to crime (daily we hear of violence and victims who if they do not die, they remain a fraction of the former self and we hear no more), those who get concussions while playing Rugby, Gaelic, Hurling, Soccer, falls etc. Why do we hear that scuffles invariably result in people kicking hard at the head of another person? Then in a rampant illegal drug culture, there is an ever increasing number of people, their children who are brain damaged from drugs; and in addition to this alcohol addiction causes brain damage also. The Head, the Mind, the Memory, are the neglected topics and receive inefficient funding from Government. Personally, I attribute this to a form of ignorance and fear.
Brain injury can often include mental health problems. This means we need to look at the Neuro-psychiatric area of medicine. It sounds good but I would heartily suggest to anyone who ends up in this category and who gets into difficulty in independent living and is desperately trying to keep in the circle you had once be part of, it is the Community Services that hold a moral and ethical duty to provide the support services. The Department of Health lag far behind countries like Denmark in the services they provide for people with a dual diagnosis of traumatic brain injury and mental health issues.
Community health services in Ireland do not exist. There are buildings defunct of character …… they close on the Thursday and if possible they transfer patients to different locations and this can often be with the Gardai to assist (yes, where mental illness is concerned). We need forward thinking medical people who have the courage and convictions to fight for the rights of their patients. There have been people like those in Aware (St Patrick’s Foundation) for people with mental illness but they thread a hard path seeking most of the funds from fundraising.
One more point. Why and how is it possible that the move of the Mountjoy Prison to Thornton Hall includes prisoners who are diagnosed with mental health/brain injury conditions. Where is the rehabilitative and conducive reasoning here? This is the use of Power to sideline a group of people, already marginalised to a form of isolation but with duplicated stigma of criminality attached to them. Is this fair and equitable? I don’t think so. I would ask the question is there any research that medically identifies prisoners who previously sustained brain injury and subsequently encountered mental health problems. I would say there was many a fight, a fall from a bicycle, a blow to the head and there are many who fall under this category who find themselves later in prison, with no mention of previous concussions or the implications.
Let us get serious. Stop the Stigma. Take down the barriers and let’s have a multi-disciplinary approach that includes an accepted input from patients.
Look out for lectures given at Trinity College Dublin Neuroscience and other universities, locations. I would suggest an occasional review of the New Scientist magazine. Neurology, Psychiatry provides a host of really interesting information and research.
Amended 22/08/15: IMC did not facilitate corrections and proof reading would have yielded many errors.
a little frustration:-
May 27, 2008 20:48
Too little attention, funds, rehabilitation, for people with Acquired Brain Injury
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics
When are we the Irish going to get to grips with Violence; Guns, Fast Cars, Blows to the Head, unplanned violence in Garda stations et al. All of these are about life threatening situations. Yet can somebody tell me why Ireland ranks as one of the lowest in Europe, in medical capability, to deal with these problems. I heard last night on the media of a comparison of standards between Ireland and Mongolia in terms of neurological medicine and no doubt this included rehabilitation; (yes, the option that exists for those who live versus die, those who but a few decades ago would not need rehabilitation, burial would suffice). Mongolia being more advanced.
I watched Orla Hardiman, Neurologist, Beaumont speak with the commitment, compassion, dedication, to what was once central to medicine – the Hippocratic Oath. This has a core message ‘If you can do no good at least … ‘Do no harm’.
‘Harmed’ are the patients. The Accident and Emergency departments daily host the casualties. They treat the wounds of the body but in the case of the head, treatment is different, critical and in need of neuro-surgeons and neurologists. These are the people to limit the harm. This harm is specialised and unpredictable and their skills are aimed at gaining the best outcome for the patient.
Harm goes a stage further here. Neurologists, hospitals can do so much but once you pull through, it is another journey of life you must face. This journey is for your family, your friends and for the opportunities you once had, in my case, a husband who opted out in a cowardly way, through extra marital affairs, leaving me in Zimbabwe in care and struggling.
The Harm of the HSE in Ireland is that we do not have the proper the facilities for Rehabilitation. We do not have personal assistants to take pressure off our family and assist us to co-ordinate clothes, a walk, a medical appointment, pay bills. Yes I go really hard on a HSE that harmed my need to reform and alter my life to help me cope and accept my diminished life.
I became old at 32 and they tell me I am now 49. Day in day out I read the papers and hear the news and there are fatal car accidents, shooting, attacks, knives, young people from lower social echelons who are not aware of prior head injuries which in other circumstances would provide a valid defence for an irrational behaviour. This is harm and ongoing harm among people who are mainly young and really do not understand what a brain injury is. The media have an obligation and the Government to match the crime and the outcome in neurosurgery and awareness of the delicacy of our brain to physical impact.
Harm and self examination: The time has come for those who drink and take illegal drugs to start taking responsibility for their lives. All of you who glamorise yourselves to go out, try to imagine what you look like when you are ossified drunk, minus your panties, possibly sexually explored and worse you don’t remember. I know what not remembering is about daily. Memory is wiped each day; it goes with traumatic brain injury which for each person has different outcomes and consequences.
I have rattled on perhaps but I would just like people to take some time out and think about this outcome:-
‘Man shot HIS FRIEND as ‘FAVOUR’ to Drug Dealers’
If the shot is to the head and the man does not die; it is lifelong engagement with what some call ‘silent epidemics’. Drug Dealers: these are people who are responsible for causing brain damage to so many people because we know illegal drugs including alcohol in excess causes brain damage. Too often people with traumatic brain damage often followed by mental illness diagnosis are left to fend for themselves in what can be a hostile world by comparison to their prior life.
August 2015: Amendments were absolutely necessary; sentences, spellings, rambling are so clearly identified in the original posting (2008) on open publishing site. However with determination, support, a recovery sufficient to live if you can put in place a regime, a discipline with support of a carer, or a partner, is possible.
What a relief to me the voice in the wilderness. Adaptive technology moves me beyond Ireland to global.
June 20, 2008 23:17
Brain Trauma among US Vets from Iraq