Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

My brother's concussion has severely impaired him. Please help.

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 2 Replies
  • Posted By: eliza1019
  • January 12, 2008
  • 02:23 AM

I will try to be as concise as possible in telling my brother's story.
More than a year ago, in September of 2006, my brother (a high school senior) sustained a concussion playing football. The doctor he saw soon afterwards claimed that there was nothing wrong with him. Five days after his injury, he stayed up til 3 AM working on an English paper. The next morning, he had a raging headache.
However, as he was a senior applying to colleges, he had to maintain his GPA in order to be a strong applicant. To give you some idea of the pressures he was facing at the time, and of his talent, my brother was in the top 1 or 2% of his class and was taking the most challenging courseload available at my high school (one of the nation's best public schools). He applied to Stanford University under their Early Action program, and got in. Even more happy news followed that April, when he also received acceptance letters from Harvard, Princeton, and MIT. However, as a student with a strong work ethic and sense of integrity, he had continued working full-throttle throughout the year, despite declining performance in his humanities classes. He found himself having difficulties writing papers and analyzing text, when only one year before he had been lauded as one of the best writers in his grade. Frequent headaches recurred throughout the year.
My brother started the summer after graduation with high hopes, thinking that three months of relaxation would allow him the recovery time his brain needed. However, on July 4th, in a stint to relieve his boredom, my brother found himself doing backflips with his friends. Another concussion.

Since then, he has deferred a year from college in order to recover from his Second Impact Syndrome. Over the rest of the summer, despite headaches and insomnia, it appeared that he was well on his way to recovery. Within the past few weeks, however, he has somehow undergone a steep decline. A recent MRI and blood test show no abnormalities, but he is unable to read, look at a computer screen, draw, exercise, do math problems, listen to music, and even talk to other people without experiencing a headache. Today and yesterday, he spent his entire day looking out of a window to our backyard - the only thing his brain will allow him to do.

Needless to say, I and my family are worried sick about him. Just one year ago, following his early college acceptance, it appeared that he had the entire world at his feet. And now, he can barely function without pain. He still is experiencing some level of insomnia, and rarely sleeps deeply (which is when brain recovery happens the most). I simply cannot believe the course his body has taken. If ANYBODY has suggestions for what he could do to expedite his recovery, or has witnessed or undergone similar experiences, PLEASE share them. I will be so grateful.

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  • This is from NIH traumatic brain injury The use of stem cells to repair or replace damaged brain tissue is a new and exciting avenue of research. A neural stem cell is a special kind of cell that can multiply and give rise to other more specialized cell types. These cells are found in adult neural tissue and normally develop into several different cell types found within the central nervous system. NINDS researchers are investigating the ability of stem cells to develop into neurotransmitter-producing neurons, specifically dopamine-producing cells. Researchers are also looking at the power of stem cells to develop into oligodendrocytes , a type of brain cell that produces myelin, the fatty sheath that surrounds and insulates axons. One study in mice has shown that bone marrow stem cells can develop into neurons, demonstrating that neural stem cells are not the only type of stem cell that could be beneficial in the treatment of brain and nervous system disorders. At the moment, stem cell research for TBI is in its infancy, but future research may lead to advances for treatment and rehabilitation. In addition to the basic research described above, NINDS scientists also conduct broader based clinical research involving patients. One area of study focuses on the plasticity of the brain after injury. In the strictest sense, plasticity means the ability to be formed or molded. When speaking of the brain, plasticity means the ability of the brain to adapt to deficits and injury. NINDS researchers are investigating the extent of brain plasticity after injury and developing therapies to enhance plasticity as a means of restoring function. The plasticity of the brain and the rewiring of neural connections make it possible for one part of the brain to take up the functions of a disabled part. Scientists have long known that the immature brain is generally more plastic than the mature brain, and that the brains of children are better able to adapt and recover from injury than the brains of adults. NINDS researchers are investigating the mechanisms underlying this difference and theorize that children have an overabundance of hard-wired neural networks, many of which naturally decrease through a process called pruning . When an injury destroys an important neural network in children, another less useful neural network that would have eventually died takes over the responsibilities of the damaged network. Some researchers are looking at the role of plasticity in memory, while others are using imaging technologies, such as functional MRI, to map regions of the brain and record evidence of plasticity. .In the strictest sense, plasticity means the ability to be formed or molded. When speaking of the brain, plasticity means the ability of the brain to adapt to deficits and injury. Another important area of research involves the development of improved rehabilitation programs for those who have disabilities from a TBI. The Congressional Children's Health Act of 2000 authorized the NINDS to conduct and support research related to TBI with the goal of designing therapies to restore normal functioning in cognition and behavior. Clinical Trials ResearchThe NINDS works to develop treatments that can be given in the first hours after a TBI, hoping that quick action can prevent or reverse much of the brain damage resulting from the injury. A recently completed NINDS-supported clinical trial involved lowering body temperature in TBI patients to 33 degrees Celcius within 8 hours of the trauma. Although the investigators found that the treatment did not improve outcome overall, they did learn that patients younger than 45 years who were admitted to the hospital already in a hypothermic state fared better if they were kept .cool. than if they were brought to normal body temperature. Other ongoing clinical trials include the use of hypothermia for severe TBI in children, the use of magnesium sulfate to protect nerve cells after TBI, and the effects of lowering ICP and increasing cerebral blood flow. top Where can I get more information?For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute's Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at: BRAINP.O. Box 5801Bethesda, MD 20824(800) 352-9424
    rad-skw 1605 Replies
    • January 12, 2008
    • 00:43 PM
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  • You may want to join a support group. This organization has national chapters: http://www.biausa.org/ I have someone close to me that has brain injury. He's brilliant, however he can't focus as he once did. Expect some changes and get yourself some support to cope with whatever is coming. I'd rent this move: "Peaceful Warrior." I wish you the best.
    aquila 1263 Replies
    • January 14, 2008
    • 01:55 PM
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