Understanding Brain Injuries

Boy With Trauma Of The Head
Boy With Trauma Of The Head

When we talk about brain injuries, the subject is nearly always confused because of the sheer number of things that can cause an injury to the brain. There are two main ways in which brain injuries can be classified – and myriad ‘sub-genres’ within those.

  • non-acquired brain injury
  • acquired brain injury

It is easier to explain an acquired brain injury.

Acquired brain injuries (ABIs) are those caused by events that occur after birth. Within this are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and many other causes.

A non-acquired brain injury is one that is either genetic or congenital, such as foetal alcohol syndrome, or an ante-natal illness. It may be a progressive condition, such as Huntington’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease.

Causes of ABI

Leaving aside traumatic brain injuries, there are a number of other causes of an acquired brain injury.

  • abscess
  • anoxiabrain tumours
  • CO poisoning
  • encephalitis
  • hydrocephalus
  • hyponatraemia
  • meningitis
  • strokes

What is anoxia?

Anoxia means a complete reduction in blood oxygen levels, and is more commonly known as hypoxia – a general or local reduction in oxygen supply. Hypoxia can be incredibly dangerous, as aside from the various damages that can occur to parts of the body, prolonged cerebral hypoxia can cause long-term brain damage.

Causes of hypoxia include near drowning, electric shock, drug overdose, organ failure, industrial or chemical exposure, injury secondary to a TBI or CVA.

What is CVA?

A cerebrovascular accident, or a stroke, is the name given to an event leading to cell death in the brain caused through ischemia, or haemorrhage.

An ischemic CVA means that there is a lack of blood flow, which could be due to one of the following:

  • Thrombosis: a localised blood clot
  • Embolism: an intravascular mass (either a blood clot, or another obstruction) which has travelled
  • Systemic Hypoperfusion: decreased blood supply
  • Venous thrombosis: a specific blood clot which forms in the Dural venous sinuses – the vein channels that lie between layers of Dura Mater – and can drain the blood from the brain.

A haemorrhagic CVA means that there is bleeding in the brain. Either an intracranial haemorrhage – bleeding that occurs between layers of Mater and/or the skull. Or a cerebral haemorrhage – bleeding that occurs within the brain tissue.

The effects of ABI

The effects of an ABI will range from person to person depending on a number of factors: speed and efficacy of medical treatment; overall health of person; reliability of aftercare; underlying conditions or previous head injuries; and luck.

Brain injuries can affect your personality or your behaviour, both short-term and long-term. You could be left with cognitive problems, such as memory loss, or aphasia. Brain injuries can also affect you physically, perhaps through nerve damage, or even leaving you with a condition like epilepsy.

If you have suffered a brain injury, and you wish to seek legal advice as to whether you have a personal injury or negligence claim, the resources at the Free Legal Advice Centre could be just what you’re looking for.

Thankful For a Mild Snowstorm but Aggravated at Doctor Office

The weatherman was predicting a huge snowstorm to come bearing down on our house last night. The snow started in the afternoon, but it seemed to be a lighter storm than predicted. The weatherman was predicting 8 – 12 inches. After all was said and done, we only got three inches. I am grateful for the smaller amount. To be honest, I was worried that we would lose our electricity, and even though we can survive a few days without it, we have been spoiled by our easy access to electronic entertainment!

Thinking we would lose our electricity while sleeping, we cranked the heat up, so the house would stay warmer longer, and we put several large buckets in the bathtubs and filled them with water for flushing needs. Better to be prepared and not need it than the other way around!

This morning I was scheduled to have a medical appointment for injections to treat my migraines in DC at 11am. It takes about two hours to get there from where I live. Seeing that almost every business and government and school in DC (and surrounding areas) was cancelled, Metro being shut down, and a state of emergency declared, it would be reasonable to assume that the doctor’s office would not be open. In order to get to my appointment, I need to leave by 9am – if the roads are good. About 8:30 I started trying to contact the doctor’s office to find out if they are open and seeing patients. At first I got the automated message telling me to leave a message and they would call me back in 48 hours. That was not going to do the trick, so I called back and hit a different option. Same thing. Third call, I finally got a live person who assured me that they were, in fact, open. I indicated that I would like to reschedule my appointment for later in the day if that was possible, asking if they had any cancellations I could take. The lady got rather nasty with me and told me that if my appointment was for 11, then I had better by there by 11! She then told me to hold on while she checked for cancellations. After being on “hold” for about five minutes, I was disconnected. So I called back again, explained again what I needed, and put on hold again for about five minutes. Then someone else came on the line and told me that the doctor had called in and said that she was not coming in to work today because of the weather and bad roads, that they would call me in 48 hours to reschedule my appointment for another day.

On the one hand, I was grateful that I did not have to make the trip – the roads are probably slippery and with a ban on street parking in DC because of the snow, it would probably have been a real nightmare going in! However, I did not appreciate the less than stellar customer service I was given by the folks at the doctor’s office when I was trying to figure out if I had to hit the road to go in and brave the bad roads, only to find out after about thirty minutes of aggravation that the doctor had called in to say that all appointments needed to be rescheduled!


Seems as if Obamacare is a hot topic around these parts. So many people are worried about what it is going to do, and have been convinced by some people that Obamacare is going to ruin America. Well, that is a discussion that I really don’t want to get into deeply because it is obvious that everyone I have had contact with has already made up their minds one way or the other and there is nothing that I will be able to say or do to change their minds. And I really am not interested in preaching to the choir. I do know that there is a lot of misinformation out there that has a lot of people upset, and that is really unfortunate.

In my email inbox today there was a message about a neat tool created by Consumer Reports that helps the everyday consumer (like you and me) to understand exactly what we are going to need to do in order to comply with the law. I think that they named it a “health law helper” tool or wizard. Anyway, they created a webpage called healthlawhelper dot org and if you go to their website you will see a page that has a red banner on it that says “Find out what you need to do.” If you actually click on that banner, it takes you to a different webpage that is a wizard. It asks you specific questions, such as what state you live in, how many people are in your family, what is your income (it does NOT ask for your name or address or any personal identifying information, so don’t get all worked up over the questions.) Eventually it actually tells you what you need to do, and offers tips. At no point does it ask for any contact information, so you can just relax and not worry about your email inbox filling up or your telephone ringing off the hook.

I think that is an awesome tool, and I encourage everyone who is worried about what they need to do to be in compliance with the law to calm down and use the tool. You just might be pleasantly surprised!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

When someone in my family, or my circle of friends tells me that they have a cold, the first thing I encourage them to do is to suck on zinc lozenges, drink plenty of ginger ale or tea, and take Mucinex.

In my opinion, if the medical practitioners were truly interested in keeping their patients healthy they would be giving out sample bags of zinc lozenges and Mucinex, and then encouraging their patients to use the zinc every day as preventative measures, and the Mucinex if and when they start to develop thick mucus. And to drink lots and lots of fluids if they feel as if they are coming down with a cold. There has been a lot of research to show that using zinc lozenges is very effective in combating many viruses, including the ones that cause the common cold. The active ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin, and that has been proven to thin mucus. This is important because when someone has the common cold, the mucus tends to thicken. When the mucus is thick, it does not drain out of the sinuses and the chest. The longer the mucus stays in the sinuses and chest, the longer the natural bacteria present in the mucus has to multiply. At some point this bacteria can multiply to the point where the doctor will proclaim that now the patient has an infection which now needs to be treated with antibiotics and steroids. Guaifenesin thins the mucus in the sinuses and in the chest, and that will help prevent the bacteria from multiplying. Drinking lots of fluids also helps to keep the mucus thin, and helps to prevent dehydration, which has its own set of problems.

I have found that if I start to use zinc lozenges on the very first day that I start to have a runny or congested nose, or a hint of a sore throat, and continue to use them for several days the cold never progresses to the point where I actually feel miserable – I only feel like I’m “fighting” a cold for about three or four days, and then I’m fine.

Microwave winter squash

winter squash free clip art
Winter squash (free clip art image)

One of the foods I really enjoy to eat is winter squash. Acorn squash, butternut squash, buttercup squash… all are similar in taste. One thing that I have never LIKED about the squash, however, was how difficult it can be to cook. So I was really glad when a cousin of mine told me that she microwaves them, and that it makes it really easy to do! So I decided to try it for myself, and really liked it. So that is how I do it now.

Wash the outside of the squash. Stab it with a big chef’s fork several times. Put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes on high. Turn it over and nuke it again for a couple of minutes. When it starts to feel soft, use oven mitts to take it out of the microwave and put it on a heat-resistant cutting board. Cut it in half lengthwise with a big sharp knife. Use a big spoon to scoop out the seeds and throw the seeds away. Scoop out the cooked “flesh” of the squash and put that in a big bowl. Add some butter and some brown sugar and mash it up with a potato masher or use a blender. I do this with butternut, buttercup, and acorn squash. All yummy to the max!