84 ways Concussion/TBI can make your life really interesting

Some time back, I compiled a list of possible issues TBI can introduce into your life. I combed through a bunch of sources and then put them all together, took out the duplicates, and came up with a list of common complaints related to traumatic brain injury. I’ve refined the list over the past couple of years, and I’m sure there are more issues I’ve missed, but this is what I’ve  been working with, thus far.  These apply to mild, moderate, and severe. And a lot of them are problems I have dealt with on a regular basis throughout the course of my life.

Here’s the list, broken down by category:

1. Impulsiveness
2. Aggression (verbal/physical)
3. Raging behavior

4. Trouble being understood
5. Trouble understanding
6. Trouble finding words
7. Trouble communicating in general

8. Agitated, can’t settle down
9. Angerrrrrr!!!
10. Anxiety – Feeling vague fear, worry, anticipation of doom
11. Depression, feeling down
12. Excitability!
13. Everything feels like an effort
14. Feeling unsure of yourself
15. Feelings of dread
16. Feeling like you’re observing yourself from afar
17. Feelings of well-being
18. Feeling guilty
19. Feeling hostile towards others
20. Impatience
21. Irritability
22. No desire to talk or  move
23. Feeling lonely
24. Nervousness
25. Feelings of panic
26. Rapid mood swings
27. Restlessness
28. Tearfulness, crying spells
29. Feeling tense
30. Feeling vague longing/yearning

Day-to-Day Activities
31. Being overly busy (more than usual)
32. Feeling like you can’t get moving, you’re stuck
33. Feeling like you can’t get anything done

34. Altered consciousness
35. Aura or weird reverie, trance
36. Trouble concentrating
37. Trouble making decisions easily
38. Trouble reading
39. Analytical skills suffer
40. Trouble telling what’s real or not
41. Being easily distracted
42. Being forgetful, can’t remember
43. Nightmares
44. Worrisome thoughts

Physical – Eating
45. Food cravings
46. Eating less / more than usual
47. Heartburn / indigestion / upset stomach
48. Losing weight

Physical – Head
49. Headache(s)
50. Stabbing pain(s) in your head

Physical – Hearing
51. Hearing music others don’t
52. Ears ringing (tinnitus)

Physical – Pain
53. Backache or back pain
54. General body aches
55. Joint painf or stiffness
56. Neck pain
57. Touch feels like pain

Physical – Sleep
58. Waking up too early
59. Being fatigued / tired
60. Difficulty falling asleep
61. Waking up during the night
62. Sleeping too much

Physical – Vision
63. Trouble seeing at night
64. Being sensitive to light
65. Double/blurred vision
66. Spots, floaters,  or blind spots

Physical – Sensations
67. Your skin feels like it’s crawling
68. Feeling like you’ve gained weight
69. Sensitivity to cold
70. Sensitivity to noise, sounds
71. Smelling odors / fragrances that others don’t smell

Physical – General
72. Feeling dizzy / have vertigo
73. Your heart races or pounds
74. Hot flashes or sudden feelings of warmth
75. Losing consciousness / fainting
76. Metallic taste in your mouth
77. Muscles spasms or twitching
78. Muscle weakness
79. Seizures
80. Nausea
81. Sexual desire feeling “off”
82. Skin breaking out / acne
83. Hands or feet swelling
84. Vomiting

Now, some of them might look like they are duplicates — #3. Raging behavior should be grouped with #9. Angerrrrrr!!!, right? I’ve actually split them up because one is behavioral, and one is emotional/mood related. Just because you’re angry, doesn’t mean you’re going to have raging behavior, but anger can still be a significant problem.

One thing that struck me, as I was compiling this list over the past few years, is how many of the symptoms are physical. It almost doesn’t make sense. You injure your head, you hurt your brain, and your body starts acting up? Where’s the sense in that? Well, considering that the brain is like the command center of your body, I guess it does make sense.

The other thing that has jumped out at me, as I’ve considered this list over the years, is how the non-physical issues can often arise from the physical. Being dizzy all the time can really mess with your head, and it can make you cranky and mean and short-tempered. Likewise, having constant ringing in your ears can shorten your fuse and make you much more temperamental. And chronic pain has a way of depressing the heck out of you.

Now, not everyone with a TBI will have these issues, but lots of people will have one or more of these problems, and lots of them can come and go over time. It’s just one more handful of pieces to the puzzle that is TBI. A big handful, actually.

Here’s a page listing a bunch of posts I’ve written about the different aspects: Then And Now – Managing TBI Issues Over the Long Term

22 thoughts on “84 ways Concussion/TBI can make your life really interesting”

  1. I’m sure this will be greatly appreciated by many with TBI. No one truly knows TBI, until they have one that affects every aspect of their life! When spontaneous recovery happens after head injuries of varying degrees frequently those individuals are skeptical over the truthfulness of TBI. Eventually, those same individuals are stopped in their tracts with a brain injury that doesn’t spontaneously recover. Those people are attempting to educate others about the complexity of TBI. Experienced TBI survivors with daily life is the best resource available for TBI survivors and families.

    Who would have thought with those concussions, carbon monoxide poisoning, head-on motor vehicle accidents, and assaults … it would only take one more incident that recovery is no longer spontaneous? It’s not a character flaw, it’s the fact that our brain become so vulnerable and the struggle becomes daily not to mention affects every relationship.

    You have the most educational data available … because of experience. Thank you for offering the world the tools to help get through these injuries.

    Take care and stay safe. Edie


  2. Thanks Edie – much appreciated.

    Yes, it is a trip, going through so much and bouncing back each time, only to get whacked one more time and have nothing be the same…

    If you have any suggestions about how I can improve what I offer here, please let me know. Thanks!


  3. Is there anyway, I can since multiple cognitive challenges/concussions since childhood, convince you that concussions/contusions are forever harming our leadership as the leader/best world power?

    I started the Challenged Conquistadors, Inc., in 1992 in an attempt to reduce cognitive challenges resulting from motor-bike/bike accidents & promote acceptance with humane terminology. I have challenges everyday/all-day, due to parental neglect. Do you want you child negatively restricted/defined/limited? My mother & step-father thought it safe or wise for me to ride without head protection. Football, etc., can forever limit your brains’ potential! You make the call, parents. Will you be responsible or neglectful; you will be remembered! Trying to work is almost impossible. Our society can ignore the challenges, but don’t complain about higher taxes!!

    You pay, either way, but what is the Best Way??


  4. Shaun, I totally agree with you. Brain injuries, I am sure, are harming our future as a nation, and the short-sightedness of parents really bothers me. So, I cannot dwell on it too much, because it upsets me so much. My own parents put me in danger, time and time again, and it did not help. They are now forced to help me, because of the long-term effects of so many head injuries. Parents who either do not know about the dangers, or do not take seriously the dangers of riding and playing without head protection — and who encourage their kids to participate in collision sports which will often result in brain injury — are a big piece of the problem.

    I’m not sure the best way to approach this. I think that continuing to educate people is a start. And getting doctors and authorities “on board” is another approach. It is difficult — as difficult as understanding the brain at all. I think if we could tap into the things that make people sit up and take notice, it might help — but in our current environment, that tends to be money, sex, power, and more of all of the above — and that drive to do MORE is often what got us brain-injured in the first place.

    The most important thing is to take care of yourself, keep working every single day to be a better person, and be a walking, talking testimony for recovery and health. That is the best we can offer to others, and it’s the best we can offer to ourselves.

    I wish you all the best in your work – stay strong, and stay safe!



  5. I have had two minor concussions and 1 sever concussion. I am left with migraines and every now and then words just don’t clicked. It isn’t often but is more than it was. They are serious, I temporarily lost vision in my left eye and feeling for the left side of my face. I recovered but still have long term side effects. I feel like it has done some damage to my memory and ability to focus but only for short periods of time.


  6. Sorry to hear about that. I have also lost vision and hearing temporarily — that was interesting. Not scary, until afterwards. As it turns out, it was stress-related (I was under extreme duress at the time). But I still have tingling and numbness on my left side sometimes. It is nerve-related. I see an acupuncturist, who has helped me a lot. My neck is incredibly messed up — my 3rd and 4th vertebra have a tendency to get out of place, and my whole neck and shoulders become very tight. So, I have to take care of them regularly.

    Ability to focus for longer periods of time is something you need to work at. It’s like a muscle — use it or lose it. If you can find things that you really enjoy that you have to pay close attention to for periods of time, that can be a great way to improve your focus and memory — and have fun at the same time.

    These things don’t fix themselves overnight. We need to work at them, and then we win.

    But we can — and do — win. Have a great day and hang in there. It does get better.


  7. EXCELLENT – and very normalizing.

    I plan to “reblog” (once I give folks a bit of time to read my recently posted Brain Hacking/neuroplasticity article first), by writing an intro, then inserting the link back here, URGING folks to give it a read.

    This is an important list, since these are ALL problems experienced by the collective EFD crowd – some from birth and others following an accident, stroke, illness, medication side-effect, chemo-brain, age-related cognitive decline, etc.

    If I ran WordPress, I’d command them to work on the ENTIRE reblog feature (instead of playing with the user interface – beep-beep-boop!) I hate how it currently changes the formatting of the text to italics (sheesh! talk about difficult to read and EASY to see what needs fixing) — as well as the inability to insert comments both above and below the excerpt AND how they handle multiple graphics.

    I’d also increase beta testing by a panel of WRITERS before release of a supposed “improvement” — the coders don’t get the problem, while the “happiness engineers” seem to have a job description where “pacify and do nothing” heads the list. (I’ve lost faith that even the reported problems, much less the new feature requests, ever make it outside the “happiness” break room; I’ve stopped reporting).

    In the not-too-distant future, if I decide to continue supporting ADDandSoMuchMore, I’ll have to move it to a “self-hosting” format where things can be more directly manipulated the way I design them – which will put a pin in the WordPress continuous “improvement” (new problem) bubble-under-plastic. Once enough of us do that, WordPress.com will become merely a “starter blog” format and they will be driven crazy by newbie support practically forever – if it remains viable at all, that is. “Those that don’t remember [internet] history are doomed to repeat it.”

    Meanwhile, support-bloggers like you and I, blogging to make a difference, do what we can for “free,” paying only for increased functionality in a couple of arenas!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”


  8. Someone I used to work with swore that WordPress code “is a mess”. Could be. It’s so popular, it can’t possibly keep up with real enhancements, while they’re just trying to keep the lights on.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. True, no doubt. Warp growth needs to be planned for from the get-go and carefully managed or it scuttles the ship. (I wonder if venture capitalists even look for longevity when they decide to fund, or if it’s simply take the money and run)

    I just wish the current WordPress cadre would spend their time fixing kludgy “features” already in the code rather than the beep-beep-boop stuff. (How old are these guys – 13?)
    xx, mgh


  10. Hi this has been rewritten by my partner, not telling everything but her story flows better than mine. 12. October 2015
    . 22 years ago I was in a Car Crash that change my life forever.
    I was 22 years old and heading to Christchurch Airport to embark on my first OE, when an oncoming car crossed the centre line. To this day I don’t remember anything about the crash that caused me a serious T.B.I ( Traumatic Brain Injury) I was left in a coma that I didn’t come out of for 3 to 4 weeks. I was told that my Mum and her friend had both received injuries and that the man in the other vehicle had died.
    Doctors were sceptical about my chances of recovery. T.B.I. is different in every case and the outcome cannot be predicted. After months in hospital it was recommended that I should be transferred into a full care unit. I refused to accept that and was eventually released from hospital and became an outpatient. Then followed many hours of various therapy sessions : speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, weekly sessions with a neuropsychologist went on for at least 2 years. I wasn’t allowed to drive at this point, so I took the bus to Dunedin Hospital. After 18 months I was allowed to sit various tests to get my licence back. This was a huge achievement for me at the time. Around then I was also able to start a part-time job. At this time I was still an outpatient and there were still physical problems visible. It was the left side of my body that had been affected and I still didn’t have full use of my left arm and leg. My energy levels would fluctuate and I was prescribed to rest for a period each day. Exercises given to me by a physiotherapist had to be followed religiously. They helped a lot, but I was still in a lot of pain and a long way from where I wanted to be. A builder friend of mine suggested Yoga. My reaction to that was:”Yoga, piss off, that’s for girls!” But then another friend of mine came up with the same suggestion. My answer was still the same, but in time, with no long term fix for my pain, I decided to give it a go. It turned out to be one of the best things in life I have done for myself. I immersed myself in the holistic teaching of Yoga, encompassing physical exercises, diet, lifestyle and philosophy. My life changed again.
    Following a trip to India, I decided to study Yoga and aim for a Teaching Diploma in Yoga. It took me 5 years to complete the 3-year course and I struggled all the way. My brain would get overloaded very quickly and I had to take a break for one year as it was becoming too much. Overload wasn’t just resulting in feeling tired and out of energy, but I was getting severe headaches and muscle pain in the left side of my body that would also stop me from sleeping. Until I decided to stop I was taking at least 6 pills-mainly at night-now I just resort to standard painkillers like Aspirin and Panadol, mainly to help me sleep.
    At age 44:
    Now I am finding myself at a stage where I have to re-evaluate my whole life. I was told by doctors not long after my adventure ( as I like to call it ), that people often encounter depression and disillusionment not straight after the event, but decades later. In my case I think I needed to believe for a long time that I would make a full recovery to keep myself moving forward. The trick was to pretend it never happened. And I guess it worked for me at the time, because my recovery far exceeded everybody else’s expectations. Accepting where I am at now however is proving to be another challenge. The damage to my brain and body is not visible to other people. It is difficult to explain why I can’t function like a healthy person. I have tried to take on full-time work, but had to accept that I simply don’t have the energy to hold one down in spite of having many skills to offer. This was especially hard for me to accept. Generally people are very helpful, but they can also be very hurtful at times and it is difficult for me not to feel judged, particularly when I am not fulltime working. All head injuries are different. Like everyone I have good and not so good days, only T.B.I. does exaggerate these feelings and sensations. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a battery with damaged cells. You can still charge it, but it won’t hold a full charge anymore. Work is a big help to any person, not just contributing to financial well-being, but also self-esteem, social life etc. I have been able to acquire a wide range of skills being mechanical, agricultural skills, Yoga training, Massage work. But it is still difficult to find work that fits in present work conditions.
    On a final note, due to Tinnitus ( constant ringing in the Ears ) and severe headaches I recently had my first MRI Scan since the accident. In my naive mind I had imagined that I had fixed the effects of a 200km/h impact on my head with Yoga methods, and after 20 odd years it would all be gone, but the scan showed several areas having experienced past bleeding and low signal. I have trouble understanding this. Apparently like a scar is yours for life, so is the damage to my head. How can I explain myself to someone else, if I don’t fully get it???


  11. This is such an excellent piece you have written. I do not think that the majority really know or understand the long term issues associated with concussions. Or those walking around with them who do not even know what is going on with them. This is important information you promote on your website. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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