What they don’t know about mild TBI is a lot

I recently started seeing an acupuncturist to help with pain and mobility issues. I’ve been wanting to have some acupuncture done for some time, but I never got around to it until recently. My neck is messed up, and so is my lower back. I also have a lot of pain in my hands, and my carpal tunnel is acting up again with all the typing and computer work I’ve been doing, lately. I’ve been going about 13-14 hours a day, sometimes longer, and it’s taking a toll, all over. I know that getting some exercise and moving will do wonders for me — and I have been doing that — but I have some longstanding issues with a lack of “flow” and I know people who have had good experience with acupuncture, especially the particular person I’ve gone to see.

So, I had an intake interview with them this past Monday, and we ran through my medical history, which is largely uninteresting, other than all the various injuries I’ve had, including my mild TBIs. The acupuncturist was interested to hear about my history, but they didn’t seem to put much stock in the neuropsychological aspects of it, and they talked about resolving my TBI issues by balancing my polarity, so my body can repair itself.

They also talked about how my fatigue and irritability are related to my meridians and somesuch, and they said that me getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night should be sufficient.

Well, okay. That’s fine. I appreciate their point of view, as they are a very experienced acupuncturist. However, they didn’t seem to pay any attention at all to the neurological aspects of it, as though the thing that really matters is meridians and energy flow. I didn’t want to get into it with them, because they were pretty locked on target with their outlook, and when people are that wedded to their point of view, there’s not much sense in trying to enlighten then.

This can be frustrating, though, because people in all healthcare fields need to have an appreciation of how altering the ways your brain’s synapses are connected can really screw up your life. So much begins and ends there, and unless that’s considered centrally to your whole experience, a lot of suffering can continue unaddressed  — and unabated. But here I am, with a counselor who helps me work through the daily business of just keeping things together — who doesn’t know much about TBI and doesn’t pretend to — and an acupuncturist who knows a whole lot about Chinese medicine, but has a more “energy work” approach to TBI issues. And then I’ve got my neuropsychologist, who understands how everything is put together and knows how to identify the core neurological issues that are causing me grief.

So, my strategy for dealing with this acupuncturist, is to focus on the areas where they have expertise, and also to not let them dominate the discussion about how to address my overall health issues. It’s fine if they have a certain outlook, and they approach things from their point of view. But there is a whole lot more to my situation that is directly related to neurological issues from all my mild TBIs, that needs to be addressed at a neuropsychological level.

I can’t get hung up on people not fully appreciating neuropyschology. Even if they are trained healthcare professionals. They know what they know, and they specialize. I just can’t get caught up in relying solely on one individual for my overall health and well-being.

That would be up to me.

So, onward.










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.

4 thoughts on “What they don’t know about mild TBI is a lot”

  1. Yes, the Chinese approach to health is quite different than what we are familiar with, but does have merit. To help me understand, a practitioner recommended I read the book, “The Web That Has No Weaver”. While I haven’t read it yet, thought I would pass the title on to you. As I too have issues with regard to spinal injuries and find that even gentle yoga aggravates them, I am starting to explore Tai Chi – a form that has been modified to focus on health benefits instead of martial art training. Tai Chi practise involves relaxing the neck and shoulder muscles; as well as not rotating the spine at the hips and waist. Beginner Tai Chi involves slower movements and relaxed breathing (as compared to conscious deep breathing – read: less memorizing and simultaneous coordination; a bane to TBI’ers). Another aspect I like, the forms are completed in standing position, no special equipment is required, can be undertaken anywhere, and some can be done from a sitting position (like, at a desk). BBBM, I applaud your approach toward self-care; you are using a multi-disciplinary approach, taking what you need from each. Very wise. No one practitioner, no matter how well intentioned or knowledgeable, has a complete answer to our individual health issues. Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.


  2. Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for sharing this information. I have tried Tai Chi in the past, but I have a hard time with the slow, controlled movements. Thankfully, there are many different options for us, if we just keep looking and trying new things. Have a great day and thanks again.


  3. Broken brilliant they say truth will set you free. You write truth but unless these posts cross the eyes of potential advocate for newly TBI victim unable to understand much, then it does little. Sure it makes me realize some truths but I’m not sure if that matters anymore to me. Advocates need to know the truths the ego and slottish thinking specialty therapists and even good hearted docs will be remaining ignorant albeit in good faith ignorant rather than let in info that does jive with their hard earned medical or psyche knowledge. Very sad. And very true.


  4. Too true. The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that the real opportunity lies in educating TBI survivors (and their supporters) to be good advocates for themselves. Changing systems which are so heavily invested in willful ignorance and is designed to block out anything that challenges their own versions of truth, is a losing battle, which I am less and less willing to fight.

    Funny side note — when I read your word “slottish”, my eyes first saw “sluttish” — is there much of a difference? 😉

    In any case, we must just keep going, keep working, keep learning, keep growing. That is the one thing that *can* save us.


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