TBI and Cogintive Function

In May, I underwent a battery of tests in regards to the impact the TBI has on my brain.  The testing included an EEG, a contrast MRI, and neuropsychological testing.  I received a mix of good and bad news.  

The good news is that my EEG showed no seizure activity.  The epilepsy specialist did not recommend changes to my current treatment.  It appears that my seizures are controlled.  I might get my driving privileges reinstated in 4 more months.

The MRI (with contrast) showed changes in my brain indicative of brain injury.  Thanks, I knew that before.  On the other hand, I’m happy something finally showed up on my physical testing.  It was extremely frustrating to know things weren’t right but have no medical confirmation on testing.

The neuropsychological testing was brutal.  It consisted of 6 hours of testing over 2 days.  It was totally mentally exausting and aggravating.  It was designed to push me and it did.  The testing looked at overall intellectual functioning such as language usage and comprehension, memory, visual spatial function, problem solving, math, and reading.

  I did well on basic knowledge and vocabulary.  However, on the rest of the testing, I scored between the third and tenth grade level.  I have a Masters in Social Work.  This is a significant drop in function.  My IQ is now low average , close to below average.   It used to be much higher.  This result wasn’t unexpected but it was hard to hear.  I still haven’t really accepted it at all.

I also showed low levels of frustration and stress tolerance. I have no idea where that came from.  I only told the examiner to F off once.  And broke a pencil.  And was 15 minutes late coming back from lunch because I had no intention of continuting.  My sister managed to get me to return.  

It was noted that I cognitively fatigue and perform much worse in the afternoon.  I also have focus and attention problems.  And, gee, I have issues with depression and anxiety.  Go figure.

The overall recommendation was that I do not return to work at the VA in any capacity.  This is both good and bad for me.  I enjoy working with veterans and being a social worker. I want to return to work. On the other hand, work is extremely frustrating and I am unable to perform much of my job responsibilities.  It’s both sad and a relief.  My prognosis is that there will be no significant improvement at this point.

On the positive side, the information provides my cognitive therapist with target areas for treatment.  She thinks I can have a limited amount of improvement, enough for me to do some volunteer work in the future.  She also thinks it may be worthwhile to do vocational rehabition after I’ve done more cognitive therapy.  

The outcome of Traumatic Brain injury varies greatly between patients.    Some brain injury victims end up in vegetative states or have extreme difficulties in mobility and even basic functioning.  My outcome is much more hopeful.  There may be more optional for me in the future.

Be well, friends.  Take nothing for granted in your lives.  It can change in a second.



4 responses to “TBI and Cogintive Function

  1. That’s great about your driving privileges! I feel like I dodged a bullet, a few years back, when the “spells” I’d been having didn’t happen while I was being tested. Results were inconclusive, but that’s good enough for me! As for your results… have you heard about Give Back? Its a group of brain injury survivors who share how they recover – and they really helped me. I wonder why you were tested at a time when you’re tired. It doesn’t make for reliable data. They need to test you when you are at your best.

    Here are some links you may find useful:

    Models of Exceptional Adaptation in Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Case Series – https://brokenbrilliant.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/models.pdf

    Give Back – TBI Self-Therapy Guide – https://brokenbrilliant.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/self-therapy.pdf

    I dunno. I just have a hard time with how a lot of testing is done. Intelligence is fluid, and making pronouncements on your entire life from tests that were done (possibly when you were already fatigued?) seems… well… limiting.

    I hope you don’t give up.


      • Been doing my best with that. Ironically, I need to step away from work to effectively do it. Working I was constantly exhausted and never felt enough energy to do much of anything cognitive. Physically, I’d drag around doing some exercise but could never get to a decent workout,

        Liked by 1 person

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