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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month!

To build awareness for brain injury this month, we wanted to address the top 5 questions we often receive regarding brain injury from our patients, their families, and community members:

Question: Is a concussion different from a brain injury?

Answer: Nope! 

A concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury; so, the terms are often used interchangeably. However, "mild" does not necessarily mean "no serious impact"; it is a descriptor medically used to indicate risk of death. So, although it has a low risk of death, a concussion may be life-altering to some. When symptoms after concussion do not resolve, these are called "complicated post-concussive symptoms" and should be treated medically. 
Since brain injuries are cumulative (the sum is greater than the individual injuries), avoiding re-injury after concussion is also important. 

Question: Could I have a brain injury if I didn't hit my head?
Answer: Yes! 

An acquired brain injury is any injury to the brain that happens after someone is born. A traumatic brain injury happens when the brain is injured by an external force. Due to the movement of the brain inside the skull when an abrupt change in motion is experienced, contact with the inner skull can result in an injury to the brain, even when no direct physical trauma to the outside of the head/skull has occurred. 

If you've noticed a change in your thinking skills or physical symptoms like headache, vertigo, extreme fatigue that have occurred after an injury or event and did not quickly resolve, make sure to let your doctor know! We often see patients at Progressive Therapy Associates who have experienced a mild traumatic brain injury in this manner. Our aim is to help these individuals recover cognitive function and reduce symptoms through cognitive-communication therapy when this is an appropriate part of their treatment plan.

Question: "If I didn't lose consciousness, could I still have a concussion?" 
Answer: Yes!

It is a common misconception that a concussion (which is a mild traumatic brain injury) is diagnosed only when someone loses consciousness or "blacks out". This is not the case! Although some individuals may experience loss of consciousness briefly, a concussion may be diagnosed both with or without loss of consciousness. It may even be the case that no symptoms are immediately apparent following the event, but start to become noticeable hours or even days later. Every brain is unique!

If you've experienced symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headache, vision changes, balance changes, confusion, fatigue, or difficulty remembering events or information following an injury, see your doctor. 

Question: "If my imaging was clear, why do I feel so 'off'?"
Answer: The way the brain changes at the cellular and neurochemical level after injury is not visually detectable on commonly used scans, such as CT or MRI. This means that symptoms of traumatic brain injury experienced by an individual are not able to be visually confirmed via imaging. This does not mean that what's happening in your brain is "all in your head", however!
Imaging is an important medical tool used with brain injury to rule out the need for surgical intervention (such as when someone has experienced a brain bleed, blocked artery, brain swelling, or cerebrospinal fluid concern, etc.). While research in the field of imaging is evolving and working toward better detection techniques all the time, it is more common than not (upwards of 80% of the time) that symptoms experienced post-brain injury are not visibly detected. Therefore, visible detection is not used alone in diagnosing brain injury.

Question: My injury was so long ago… is it too late to get help?
Answer: Definitely not! 

It’s never too late to get help! At Progressive Therapy Associates, we see people at various stages post-injury, from days to weeks to years (and sometimes decades!). Goals from person-to-person are individual to their needs. The principle of neuroplasticity (brain change) indicates that skills can be learned by the brain across ages and stages of life. This is true for children and adults just as it is true for individuals both immediately following and long-term post-injury. Sometimes cognitive-communication focus is on regaining function (rehabilitation) and sometimes we focus on strategy development (compensatory) to lessen an injury’s impact on an individual’s day-to-day life. There are times that sustaining a subsequent brain injury or experiencing an increase in life demands may warrant reassessment in a new season of life.  Either way, it is never too late for treatment! 

If you have unresolved brain injury symptoms or concerns, contact your doctor today! Call us to schedule a FREE consultation to determine whether our services are a match for your needs: 701-356-7766

Free Consultation
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month!
Qualified Therapists

Our dedicated team of speech-language pathologists are specially trained in speech therapy as it relates to cognitive-communication issues (how you listen, process, focus, remember, and communicate). We are also nationally certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, are nationally recognized by the Brain Injury Association of America and are Certified Brain Injury Specialists (CBIS). We are licensed to practice in both North Dakota and Minnesota. We believe every patient deserves the best treatment and support we can offer in every single contact and interaction with us.

Individual Approach

We recognize that no two people have the same needs and that everyone has different learning styles. That’s why we like to call our approach “the Progressive way,” which means we will happily customize treatment plans to meet the unique needs of the individual and their family. We also believe in “the right fit” between patient and therapist, so will make every effort to match you with a clinician who connects with you, understands you, and utilizes a therapy style that is comfortable for you.

We are here to help

Depending on the goals you wish to accomplish and the learning pace that is most comfortable for you, we will arm you with the evidence-based strategies, proven skills, and ample support you need to feel more organized, prepared, and effective. Therapy strategies may range from recommendations for specific tools (such as timers or planners), one-on-one brainstorming and problem-solving to address concerns, therapeutic activities as well as computer trials or worksheets to help strengthen cognitive and executive functions like attention, memory, and planning.

Coaching with compassion

We know that working on cognitive-communication issues is hard work and that it can be easy to feel defeated or overwhelmed by the challenges of building a more efficient brain. However, you will not be in this alone. We are not just speech-language pathologists; we are fellow human beings who care about you, your journey, and your success. We don’t want an appointment to feel like you’ve been sent to the principal’s office. Instead, you’ll find a comfortable space where you’ll feel listened to and understood. And because humor makes everything more bearable, be prepared to laugh and joke a bit too!