Less intelligent after TBI? Not even close.

You’re more intelligent than you ever imagined

I’ve been thinking a lot about what TBI does to our intelligence – if it affects us at all, if if makes us stupid. “Does concussion make you dumb?” is a frequent google search that brings people to this location.

There’s a general perception that TBI/concussion makes you stupid. When I started to tell people about my TBI issues, they often protested, “But you’re so SMART! You can’t have a brain injury!” I didn’t tell them about ALL of the TBIs/concussions I’ve sustained, once they made the announcement that they had no understanding of what is involved with traumatic brain injury, and they had no interest in learning more.

The way I see it, folks who are recovering from brain injury actually have to be smarter than most. It takes flexibility and a real ability to learn, which most people neither have nor are interested in developing, once they get to be “adult age”. When you are dealing with TBI, it’s a constant process of self-discovery and self-examination that can – and will – take you places and teach you things that you might not prefer. When you’re learning your way back to a “new normal” you have to be resourceful, patient, inquisitive, curious, and very, very persistent.

Name any regular people — any “normal” people who are ready and willing to do that?

I can’t think of many.

In fact, if anything, being “regular” or “normal” often seems to involve ceasing to use your intelligence, ceasing to be flexible and “plastic”, stopping learning, stopping growing, stopping any sort of personal development that doesn’t A) make you money or B) get you laid. “Normal” seems to me like a path down the other side of the hill… a gradual surrender to the “inevitable” decline – which isn’t inevitable at all, if you don’t think (and act like) it is.

The thing that makes TBI so difficult for some, is that it completely blows you conception of “normal” out the window, and it forces you — FORCES YOU — to become more resourceful, more open to learning, more flexible… more human… or else. If you stay stuck in the false belief that you are what you are, and that’s that… well, your goose is pretty much cooked. If you fall back on the old assumptions that how things are is just how they are, and how you are after a certain age is how you should always be… good luck with your recovery, if you have one at all.

TBI sorta kinda forces you to grow up and grow a pair. It forces you to look at your humanity in the face — right straight in its fearsome gaze — and accept that there’s a whole lot you don’t know and are mistaken about and can lose track of, and that you’ve got to work a little harder at living your life, if you’re going to do anything other than turn into a lump on the couch watching bad t.v., feeling sorry for yourself.

Facing that, and dealing with that, and taking steps to address all that… well, that takes intelligence. And if you didn’t have it before, you’d better well learn it — because intelligence, like so many other physical and mental activities, can be learned and enhanced, it is NOT set in stone.

So, if you’ve had a concussion lately, or if you’re dealing with TBI after-effects, and you’re wondering if it’s made you dumber, all I can say is, “Stupid is as stupid does. It’s time to get to work learning how to be smarter than ever.”

Nobody’s going to hand it to you a silver platter. They never were, to begin with, but you had it in your head that they were. Life isn’t going to stop to accommodate you. It doesn’t do that for anybody – rich, poor, healthy, or sick. The world won’t slow its spinning to wait for you to catch up. You’ve gotta pick up the pace, yourself. All those assumptions you were living under before — they were as wrong then, as they are now. You just can’t keep fooling yourself in your present state of mind.

So, let’s get on with life and forget all the old crap that no longer applies. You aren’t going to know exactly which crap doesn’t apply, from moment to moment.

But I can guarantee you’re going to find out.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

26 thoughts on “Less intelligent after TBI? Not even close.”

  1. B –
    Lets take this apart a bit

    1. There is no such thing as a single TBI or TBI experience – prior age, intellectual abilities and style, emotional status (and probably economic and social status) AND the type of injury and the location(s) of injury all make a difference in the outcome.
    2. Intelligence is a very broad word – what is intelligence – athletic prowes, artistic skills, musical ability, memory for history, ability to see the big picture, imagination, etc.
    3. Pre-morbid intellectual style and education will have a significant impact. If you are 16 and and not- academic you will not be more academic . However what MAY be true is that it may be harder to read or study afterward and so you may face greater struggle in trying to achieve things academically.
    4. For some folks cognitive functioning IS impaired, they can not think as well as before – but this is a gradient and it may even be able to be modified.
    5. Rebuilding you capacities is hard hard hard work. Many people do not like or want to do the effort required to rebuild, it is not fun, it is often dull, boring and your spirit will resist it. You cannot take a pill or do a magic exercise that will suddenly make you feel like Einstein with ease.
    6. Emotional factors and life after tbi, people around you etc will also shape your perception of your functioning and consequently affect the way you interact.
    7. MUCH of tbi is about processing – that is speed of processing, managing input data, communication (output data), holding things in working memory etc. That is why external compensatory strategies work – because they allow you to ‘think’ and not manage information. But they also require that you learn how to use them and that you use the regularly till they become habit (about 100 hours of STEADY and REGULAR process).
    8. You can often rebuild functions – this too is a matter of habit and practice. You may have to work on the basic skill – eg. Working memory, or divided attention (attentional skills are the most heavily impacted- particularly divided attention). This too often feels like dull and dreary work and so people quit after a few attempts.
    9. Self awareness is a limiting factor – people do not recognize their problems and so they don’t work on them.
    10. Accepting failure (mistakes etc) is essential, if you don’t keep trying over and over you will not improve.
    11. If you are older it can be harder because societal expectations do not allow for you to have the space and respect to make mistakes and try again.
    12. Motivation is often impacted, this makes the work effort to improve harder – but it can be overcome, also with practice.
    13. Speed of processing is one of the few things that I think is hard for adults to recover because you simply have less roadway to do the same task. This is not such a big deal and it does improve with time but our society really emphasizes speed of processing.
    The essential point here is not are you less intelligent – that means nothing. The point is you HAVE changed – so now you must work to honestly re-assess yourself and work at making changes. Having the desire is not enough – you must relearn discipline and effort and do a lot of work. You must also be honest about your emotional status and response to things. Lack of self-awareness is often a problem for people. Others will not understand and you cannot expect them to. But you can be a fully whole, successful, accomplished, happy,loving, person.


  2. Hello again, m –

    Thanks for the input. I wanted to write about intelligence, because so many people come here looking for information about whether concussion/TBI makes you dumber. The search terms are many, but the question is the same: Does TBI make you stupid?

    I can’t say that I agree with everything you say – personally, I think of intelligence similar to Reuven Feuerstein – intelligence as “the unique propensity of human beings to change or modify the structure of their cognitive functioning to adapt to the changing demands of a life situation.”

    I think of intelligence as “the ability to collect data from one’s environment, make sense of it, and adapt one’s behavior accordingly to interact effectively with one’s surroundings.”

    With regard to whether or not people become less academic after TBI, I have heard stories of TBI survivors who become absolutely consumed with academic studies after their injuries. And then there are the folks who develop amazing artistic abilities after a TBI. I think it varies from person to person.

    But essentially, our ability to adapt to our environment remains intact in myriad ways — some of which we don’t even realize until after we’ve gone through some heavy stuff. It’s multi-faceted, as you appear to agree.

    With regard to self-awareness, yes, that’s an issue. I have it, myself – and it keeps my neuropsych in business 😉 But when you sit down and look at your day objectively and ask yourself, “Self… did I accomplish the things I set out to do?” you can get a fairly objective impression of whether the answer is “yes” or “no”.

    As for motivation and the willingness/capacity to work harder… nothing kills motivation more than believing your goose is cooked and nothing you do is going to change a danged thing, ’cause you’re brain-damaged and you’re irreparably injured and the best thing to do is just get used to being impaired. Personally, I think the way TBI folks are talked to and treated kills their motivation even more than their inherent abilities. And focusing on the difficulties that won’t really pay off, instead of honing the opportunities that will… well, that’s just a disability waiting to fulfill itself.

    I say – damn the torpedoes and get on with living life, because as messy as it can get and as confounding and confusing as it may be, even the act of muddling through is a more-than-worthy act of faith that can ultimately pay off, through the sheer practice alone. And 277 people wanted to read about it, the day that I wrote about it.

    But I’m tired. Must sleep. I have my next neuropsych eval in the morning.

    Cheers – and thanks for writing.



  3. BB – I understand – our culture prizes certain characteristics – multi-tasking, fast speed of processing, good memory, strong attentional abilities (such as sustained attention or ability to shift focus). These ‘skills’ are considered part of intelligence and when people feel the loss (evein by increments) by some of that they feel ‘less intelligent’.

    Furthermore a tbi impacts the way a person functions – so no matter what you do or are good at if your ability to do is is changed you feel ‘less intelligent’. The changes that occur can be very hard to detect – so for example you may have a harder time reading (missing words) and so when you hand in work you think it is done correctly only to have your boss point out that it is full of mistakes. That experience can certainly make you feel less intelligent.

    I think your definition is valid but the question is also what is cognitive functioning’ – a football player uses cognitive functioning to predict where to move and how to respond – and the environment of a game is always changing. Suddenly having a hard time figuring out left and right or remembering plays could be considered ‘less intelligent’ .

    Yes, I know many tbi folks who become perpetual students – I didn’t mean that they can’t learn – indeed this is why this is such a broad based notion. The school environment is very different from the work environment – I find tbi folks oddly love to learn new information – but they have a hard time translating that world to business. Others I have met cannot or simply do not feel able to learn – short term memory, focus, ability to organize – the idea of going for a phd or a masters or even a university degree feels impossible.

    I agree wholeheartedly that people do have the ability to adapt – but adapt is a difference – whether you relearn a process or learn to use a compensatory skill (internal or external) you are adapting. You are also adapting if you say – I don’t want to be head poobah of manufacturing anymore or I don’t want to be a pilot or I don’t want to be cop. Now I also know folks with tbi who have successfully returned to head poobah, pilot and cop. But the majority have to rethink things. Sometimes rethinking can be done in the traditional environment, sometimes it requires a change of environment (and job)

    What I was trying – hopefully – to say was that the label ‘intelligence’ is misleading. People focus too much on scores and labels – the real issues are about ones satisfaction with life, with self, with
    etc. When someone is worried about being less intelligent it means that they are struggling with something – the trick is to figure out what and how to address it, and not to worry about are you less intelligent. If your vision is impaired and you use glasses are you less intelligent because you use a compensatory device? But if you don’t know your vision is impaired or you don’t know how to use glasses then you will feel less intelligent. Dyslexia is a good example of this.

    Most of the better rehab programs now do NOT tell people you are brain damaged and give up. They do struggle with finding the line for some folks to say there is a need to acknowledge that some things may change. Like you I am more hopeful and liberal in where I’d place that line. But I am finding a sea change in how others think and they are beginning to recognize this.

    We do not have rehab programs or the societal structure to help people with tbi return to work, communities etc. It takes about 7 years of good focused effort for a person with mtbi to say ‘I am me’ – even if they are changed. Alas left on their own most will NOT do what needs to be done. And most businesses are not tolerant of supporting folks with tbi in their efforts. It is a hard battle. I am fully for forging ahead but with some guidance and plan and approach to make all the effort successful. If you just spin your wheels you end up frustrated, depressed and often incur other problems. I think that because many folks with tbi feel okay they underestimate the effort and struggle to rebuild their functions or learn new strategies. Their rigidity makes it harder for them to visualize different goals – and these things take a toll.

    Self awareness is very very tricky. Most folks w/out tbi lack a degree of self awareness – even hard with tbi. Things get blamed on other factors. 98% of the people I know DO NOT get the things that they need to get accomplished that day done in that day. I was just talking to a systems architectural and he said ‘take a programmers time estimate, double it and then increase the measurement increment to the next level – so if a program says it will take 2 weeks that means it will take 4 months.

    You are unusual in that you have persevered and that has been helpful. I wasn’t disagreeing with what you said, simply trying to encourage people not to get too hung up on ‘intelligence’ as a measure of anything. I know too that you are getting a NP eval – and while I value data it is also understand that the NP doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story – some folks with low scores in certain areas do fabulously well, and others with good scores all around do poorly. Several neuro researchers have criticized the ability to translate the tests into life experiences.

    That doesn’t mean the tests are bad, it just means that they get taken with a grain of salt.

    I DO believe that folks with tbi have a lot of strengths – tenacity, perseverance, ability to think outside the box, creativity, a strong desire to do well – and with the right skills support and environment can achieve great things. But it is a challenge.


  4. m –

    I hear you about the dominant culture. It definitely is true. I’ve struggled pretty much my entire life with thinking that I was somehow less intelligent than others because of my problems with multi-tasking, fast speed of processing, good memory, and attentional abilities. Despite knowing that I was pretty smart in my own way, and being told by countless people that I was smart, I’ve struggle to this day with believing that I’m somehow less “intelligent” because I forget things so easily, I process things slower than most people I know, and multi-tasking… well, whatever skills I had with that, once upon a time, have eroded dramatically. Oh, well…

    It’s so true about feeling less intelligent. And in fact in some ways I am — I think of intelligence as composed of “surface” and “core” — on the surface, I’ve acquired certain abilities to take in and process and adapt to information about my environment. And that intelligence can vary, from day to day. After my TBI in 2004, it was really compromised and I didn’t even realize it (that self-awareness business). But at the core, I had an innate ability to observe, process, and adapt to my overall environment. It’s taken me years to feel comfortable doing that, and there are still gaping holes in my experience on a regular (daily) basis, and I spent a lot of time perseverating and obsessing over details I was observing, and not doing a very good job parsing it all out… but with practice I got to where I at least have a process I follow, and it’s getting smoother with each passing year. I won’t say “each passing day” because it’s catch as catch can with me from day to day. But over time, I’m getting there.

    That’s absolutely true about the football player. A great example. In that case, I think about that kind of change as a shift in the type of intelligence, rather than a wholesale loss. I’m talking about core intelligence, not surface — our innate ability to observe and parse and adapt to input. Even people in a persistent vegetative state have been shown to react to observed input — I really believe that’s just how we’re built, and until we’re six feet under, we’ll keep being that way. It’s largely a question of degrees — what kind of intelligence we exercise and build up, each and every day of our lives.

    Perpetual student… that would be me. I have always been consumed by a hunger for new knowledge. But that hunger takes me in a million different directions and certainly doesn’t translate to business very often. If anything, the business world turns me off, even though I am occupied there daily. The whole point of me going to work each day is to afford my books and papers and the time to study them all and just think through everything.

    Of course, people’s experiences are going to vary, from case to case. But just because someone feels like they’re unable to learn, doesn’t mean they can’t. For some time after my TBI in 2004, I did not read. I stopped. I also did not write. I stopped that, too. I told myself that I was choosing to do that, that I just didn’t feel like it anymore. But in fact, I had such a hard time doing either, I just quit to avoid the frustration and the unfamiliarity of the situation. I gave up. But over time, it came back, and while I don’t read as voraciously as I once did, I’m reading again. It actually is a lot of work for me, so I read maybe a couple of books a year, if that (I go in fits and starts). But I don’t doubt for a moment that with the time and intention I could manage somehow. I might not pull perfect grades — then again, maybe I would — but I’d manage.

    At this point in my life, I have essentially given up on the long-held plan of going back to school and finishing my degree and possibly getting a new one. It’s just not a good use of my time. Not because I couldn’t do it, if I had the time and money, but because I’d rather use my time and my money for other things. If I have to go back to school, I will. But not if I don’t have to. I think of this as being more about shifting life goals and chosen activities — TBI seems so much like suddenly growing very old very quickly — the kinds of things you can do can change dramatically, and how you do them changes, too. So you have to pick and choose. And decide what not to do, so that you can focus on other things. Time has become so much more precious to me. And energy, too.

    Rethinking… yeah. I’ve done a lot of that, myself. This TBI business has forced me to look at what’s most important to me, what brings me the most joy and motivation, and to focus on those things. Because without joy and motivation, I’m not going anywhere. Nothing’s going to move for me, and I’m not going to advance. It’s all about picking and choosing, and knowing what NOT to choose.
    Yes, ‘intelligence’ is a variable thing. I checked Wikipedia and found a bunch of different definitions, some of which sounded right, others of which sounded way off. My main goal of writing that post was to respond to so many of the people who reach my blog with the query to Google – “does concussion make you dumb?” or something similar. I think I hit a nerve, too — my reader stats more than doubled and here’s what people told each other about the post: http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Brain_Injury/forum/15335668-every-tbi-survivor-should-read The point of the post was less about factual stuff and more about the sense we have of ourselves and the things we tell ourselves (and are told) about ourselves which can get in the way — but don’t need to.

    That’s great about rehab programs. I just wish it were so in the general populace. As you said, the dominant culture has this perception that intelligence is all about speed and memory and being able to change gears quickly. It’s kind of dense, actually — has no relation to intelligence, from where I’m sitting — more about making people feel comfortable by moving too fast to really get their heads around what’s happening in their world and immediate environment. It’s really encouraging to hear that the old perception of “no recovery is possible” is giving way to something that more closely resembles reality.

    Ah, the 7 years… I’m at 8 years post TBI, and about 4-5 years into my deliberate, focused recovery. I still don’t feel like I’m really “me” and I’m not sure I ever will again. It’s hard for me to even remember who “me” used to be — so I’m focusing more outside myself, and I’m shifting my priorities away from the old way I used to be — Type A — Go-go-go — 200% motivated, 200% dedicated to The Cause… that just bores me, now. Of course, having a doctor tell me, “It might be cancer,” 18 months ago, and contemplating the possibility of dealing with that bugaboo also shifted my attention away from all that Type A stuff and “evolved” my priorities. (Fortunately, all the tests came back ok, but it was a tough stretch there, for a while).

    As for the business world, well, my “performance” has “deteriorated” dramatically at my current job, in no small part because I work for people who think extreme ADHD is a sign of intelligence, and I can’t get through 30 minutes without some interruption in the day. It’s ridiculous, but I stopped caring about a year ago, and despite being far less top-notch than I used to be, I am so much happier not giving a sh*t and just doing the work I love in the way I love, without being bullied and put upon by these crazy people. I just don’t care. I don’t care if my goals aren’t met 100%. I don’t care if I’m not the #1 TOP PERFORMER in my department anymore. I don’t care… besides, things are going to change in another couple of months, and before then, there’s Christmas week and the New Year, and a lot of other things to occupy my attention. I keep plugging away, but I don’t sink a lot of time and attention into these nut-bags who are bullies and politically clueless and might be headed for the organizational cliff, anyway.

    Of course, needless to say, I tend to drastically underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to do things, so I end up taking on much more than I should. And shifting gears is excruciating for me, so I often don’t do it. I need help working through all this, which is where my neuropsych comes in. There’s a lot I don’t tell them, which just works against me, I’m sure. But things generally feel like such a tangled mess for me, I can’t even begin to unravel it, so I just “follow the wave” and give things my best shot. It’s not very scientific and it’s probably extremely poor management, but I seem to be hanging in there, so I’ll go by what I see in front of me and what others tell me.

    Life, for me, is an inexact science. And at this point, so long as I can keep food on the table, I’m more concerned with being happy than I am with rising to the top of the heap.

    Ironically, the more I concentrate on being happy and having good relationships with the people around me, the more I seem to rise. It’s funny — I might actually be getting a huge promotion in the next month or so. And things started looking up for me, after I got my priorities shifted and decided to focus on being happy instead of being a “machine” at work. Management likes the machine. But they really don’t give a damn about me and my life.

    I hear you about the self-awareness. I hadn’t heard about the programmers time estimate — I always heard “double the time, then add a full measure of the last level” — so a 2-month project will take four months and a week. The way you describe is probably adjusted based on offshoring — the remote factor (and all the other issues that accompany offshoring) definitely adds to it.

    I think I have persevered, actually, because of all the TBIs I’ve had. It has probably made me far more hard-headed and prone to perseveration than most. And because I’ve gotten hazed so heavily over the years — by family, friends, teachers, strangers… everyone, it seems — because of my differences, it’s kept a fire lit under me. Because even in the face of the confusion and memory lapses and slowness and difficulties shifting from one thing to the next and completing… well, anything… I’ve always known that I was NOT the person they pretended I was, and I did NOT deserve the treatment they heaped on me. I was NOT the names my father called me. I was NOT the puppet my mother tried to control. I was me, I was myself, and screw all them and anyone who tried to put me down. My difficulties have been my fuel, the frustration and anger have been like pellets in my “pellet stove”… with a constant supply of new fuel on a regular basis that keeps me going. The sheer injustice of how I’ve been treated — how so many of us are treated — how we are dismissed and pushed away and told we are less-than…. it makes me nuts, because IT IS JUST NOT TRUE, and I wanted to write something that would reassure people, no matter what their definition of “intelligence”.

    We all have some definition of that in our minds. We cannot help it. We all estimate and judge our circumstances, for better and for worse. I wanted to introduce a new thought that might actually prove useful. It did for me, anyway…

    As for NP tests, I’m looking forward to just seeing the data. The last test I did, my short-term memory degraded so quickly and so completely, that my final scores weren’t even accurate, because I started using compensatory strategies when I was below the 12th percentile. I am looking forward to seeing if any of my numbers have changed since last time, since I’ve been working so hard. And if they haven’t changed, or they’ve gotten worse, then that actually means I’m doing something right, because nobody’s perfect, but I’ve figured out ways to be highly effective and contribute to the world around me, despite being a walking inventory of compromised abilities.

    m, of course it’s a challenge. It’s life! I don’t want to sound pat, but I’ve always believed that the most important things are extremely difficult to do. But in doing them — in rising to the challenge — we not only test ourselves, but we receive something in return. Our greatest challenges can also be our greatest gifts — we receive in proportion to what we give. And I also believe that when we give and give and give of ourselves, even (or especially) when we believe we have nothing to give, life gives back to us ten-fold. Rising to the challenge — or simply resolving to do so — brings untold blessings to us, sometimes when we least expect it.

    I don’t expect things to be easy. I expect them to NOT be. And I am rarely disappointed or surprised by the degree of difficulty of life in general. What does surprise me, is how much I receive in return.

    And that’s why I keep on keepin’ on.

    Be well — and happy holidays.



  5. This is a very interesting and valuable conversation. My Wechsler IQ tests still show very high IQ scores 90th to 99th %, but show a severely slowed processing, bottom 10%. My Wechsler memory is in the bottom 5 to 12th percentile. The neuropsych tries to say the low scores are faked even though the validity scales are 48 and 49 out of 50 (50 is perfect, no faking or malingering) 37 and below is the high score for malingerers who are good at hiding their malingering.

    I know I have different intelligence skills. Many skills are markedly improved because I need to ‘stop to think’ and am more comprehensive with my thoughts. I may not have the large digit span of my past but there are ways to work around that. I believe many of us learn to use our intelligence in ways that make interfacing with others, especially the less intelligent, much better. When one realizes the changes in manifestation of intelligence. it makes it easier to understand how different intelligence levels impact lives.

    As mentioned, maintaining high intelligence negatively impacts the ability of the brain injured person to receive appropriate care and consideration. The “With that level of intelligence, there can not be anything wrong” attitude of professionals let alone family and friends, just further complicates the ability to be a productive member of a community. Everybody wants the tasks to be done the normal way. We want to use ‘work-arounds’ to get the tasks done. They have no tolerance for our work-arounds. I sometimes wonder, who has the disability? I think the people with no tolerance for our need to use work-arounds have a greater disability. We can get the job done just as well just not while the office is deluged with time traps like bickering over ‘process.’

    Many process rules are designed so low intelligence people can get their jobs completed. To the intelligent with brain injury limits, those process rules just clog up the process.

    I am often amazed that I can do things that my neurologist-psychiatrist would consider impossible considering my Wechsler scales. The brain is an amazing thing with abilities far beyond our comprehension.


  6. Absolutely, Mark – I absolutely concur. It really is amazing that we can do some of the things we can do. My working memory degrades to the 12th % after relatively little “load” and there’s a ton of stuff I can’t remember (and seem incapable of learning), from day to day, yet I don’t think I’ve ever been more content with my work and my place in the world.

    I think you’re right about the less intelligent – somehow, TBI makes it a little easier to deal with, I think.

    And about the workarounds… Yeah. My neuropsych is constantly telling me I don’t need lists, I don’t need to do things a certain way, and I “should” not need my props and reminders and notes to get on with my life. They seem to see them as a hindrance, and to this day they just don’t get that I struggle with the dumbest things in the course of each day — ’cause I’m so smart, after all 😉

    And process… for me, the point of process is really to keep people who track when they aren’t paying attention and are just being dense or lazy or both. In the case of technology, when so much can go so wrong so quickly if you do just one thing wrong, process really comes in handy. But it can get out of hand. And I struggle with that constantly at work, dealing with folks whose primary purpose seems to just get through the morning to lunch, and then through the afternoon to quitting time. They have their process which they follow, so they don’t have to think about anything.

    The only problem with idiot-proofing your process, is you make it perfectly okay for people to be idiots. You even encourage it.

    And therewith I have issues.

    Intelligence is a mutable, dynamic thing, and I believe it’s dependent on many different factors, which are constantly changing. And even if I’m not smart about certain things now, it doesn’t mean I can’t get that way in the future. There’s always a possibility, I believe.


  7. I lived a life with a 155 iq. Was considered a creative genious, then with the inception of the new economy i shifted to the business strategy side and became CCO… Chief Creative officer. I lived that life unfilled two years ago, when iwas struck down by an.84 passenger bus traveling at an estimated 30mph! I was a pedestrian walkingnin the cross walk…. on a green. I crushed through the windshield, then was.launched in the air… seen ten-feet higher than the bus… stil on acent. Then I was found forty-feet down the road: presumed dead.

    I survived… now intelligence: they say and ibelieve it,TBI victims become ‘hyper intelligent’ through a.major part.of recovery…. but it tends to be like a dog chasing its tale…. working and trying too hard to sjow your fine…… I can tell you you will neveragain be a free-wheeling Intelect. As hard as you try there are inherant deficets in processing and word finding…. and the dreaded anxiety right when you think you’ve mastered it.

    But rock on TBI soldiers… nobody can modify like us….

    We are the new age warriors!


    But rocknon.

    But rock on fellow TBI soldiers! We can.odkfy


  8. I’m a college Physics major and I am often required to perform demanding mathematical calculations and employ creative problem solving. The issue is I am also an avid boxer and have had several concussions. I am fearful that these injuries are preventing me from ever reaching my full mental potential and it causes me a lot of stress. Even though I love fighting, I’m at the point where I am considering quitting.

    Essentially I am pretty fearful that I will lose my ability to perfoem in math, or that I already have. Any advice for someone like me?



  9. Hi – thanks for writing.

    Actually, boxing (and the concussions that inevitably go along with it) is pretty much mutually incompatible with doing high-level mathematical calculations over the long term. You may not be feeling the effects of it now, but (like me) your injuries might not all add up till later. It sounds like you’ve gotten off easy, thus far, but the effects of concussions are cumulative, and a hit or a fall or some other relatively “minor” incident may occur that ends up with much worse consequences than you would expect, thanks the prior injuries.

    If your ability to perform in math is a priority for you, I think it’s only prudent to stop boxing at this point. You just have to figure out which one means more to you — boxing or physics. Because in the long-term they don’t mix.

    How many physics folks do you know who box? And how many boxers do you know who (can) do physics?


  10. UPDATE: Chris Power-Gomez, five-years after accident….

    On January 16, 2013 at 8:44 am I wrote this:

    I lived a life with a 155 iq. Was considered a creative genious, then with the inception of the new economy i shifted to the business strategy side and became CCO… Chief Creative officer. I lived that life unfilled two years ago, when iwas struck down by an.84 passenger bus traveling at an estimated 30mph! I was a pedestrian walkingnin the cross walk…. on a green. I crushed through the windshield, then was.launched in the air… seen ten-feet higher than the bus… stil on acent. Then I was found forty-feet down the road: presumed dead.
    I survived… now intelligence: they say and ibelieve it,TBI victims become ‘hyper intelligent’ through a.major part.of recovery…. but it tends to be like a dog chasing its tale…. working and trying too hard to sjow your fine…… I can tell you you will neveragain be a free-wheeling Intelect. As hard as you try there are inherant deficets in processing and word finding…. and the dreaded anxiety right when you think you’ve mastered it.
    But rock on TBI soldiers… nobody can modify like us….
    We are the new age warriors!
    But rocknon.
    But rock on fellow TBI soldiers! We can.odkfy

    …Somewhat embarrassed by the writing, spelling and grammar, I’m still proud of the core of this message. Since then, I have rebuilt mine and my family’s lives, and we are thriving, as a family and individuals.

    As I’m sure everyone connected with this blog understands, every member of the Power-Gomez family was greatly affected by the accident, and the subsequent result – TBI. To update on-that-end, my two kids Josh and Heather (now 21 & 23) are living the life young adults their age should be. My son, a baseball player going into his senior year of high school when the accident occurred, is now a baseball trainer and coach, and a part-owner of the facility in Westlake Village, CA from which he trains. An interesting point; that facility is where I was walking when struck-down. He has dreams of someday coaching in MLB. My daughter attends Cal Lutheran University, and is presently studying in London with ISA. She too has dreams for her future, in television production. My wife Michele had a very tough time with instantly losing her husband, and after twenty-five years of marriage as a stay-at-home wife and mother, being told to get a job… at Taco Bell if necessary. She had to be the mom, the dad, and help me on my quest to become whole again. Today she is again the matriarch, guiding each of us through life. She does carry some residual issues attributed directly to the experience – manic depression.

    I have come to this point with extraordinary growth. I still have no memory of most of my life, issues with functionality, emotion and pain…. but I am here, being every-bit a father and husband… as best I can. I have nearly debilitating anxiety, which doesn’t allow me to travel, or attend anything with a large audience, go to movies, the mall, etc. I have rebounded with nearly every aspect of my life except one – professionally. That I am proud to say I am hitting head-on now, with a formal re-entrance to my profession. I have positioned this endeavor as ‘Re-Vitality’ as I think that accurately portrays me and my position in this newfound life I lead.

    That endeavor can be seen at the online presentation at Re-Vitality.com .

    That’s it for now…. and again rock-on TBI victims!

    Chris Power-Gomez


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