Scientists specialising in traumatic brain injury at Montreal General Hospital are trying to help people to understand how a head injury and concussion can affect people by simulating certain symptoms for people and asking them to undertake tasks.
It is sometimes hard to understand what someone with a concussion can be experiencing and what symptoms they can suffer with after an accident, and more often than not, the person who has sustained the head injury will not understand the extent of their injury either.
Although initially, people will be extremely concerned, as the weeks continue, people can sometimes believe that recovery from a concussion is quick. This is not always the case, and people who have sustained a concussion can have symptoms for weeks, months and even years after the initial head injury, particularly where an early treatment programme has not been put in place.
Tasks to mirror symptoms of a head injury and concussion
One of the simulations created for people is vision-distorting goggles. This makes people aware of just one of the ways our abilities can be altered after a head injury. The test group were asked to undertake tasks such as picking candy canes from a coat hanger to illustrate how someone can be affected and the dangers associated with these symptoms.
These simple tasks would be completed with ease by someone with full cognitive function, but when hand-eye coordination is impeded, they can become extremely difficult. These tests demonstrate how difficult even the smallest of things can be for someone who has sustained a head injury.
Driving when you have a concussion has also been researched and results have been compared to drink driving and the dangers associated with this. Dr Farivar, the Scientific Director running the sessions commented. “People think that they’re feeling fine, it’s going to be great, but you’re actually going to be a lot slower. You’re going to be poorer at reacting to things in your environment.”
Another test given to people when they have a suspected concussion after a head injury is a tower ball test. This involves stacking things in an order and is often used in small children to look at co-ordination and decision-making skills. Neuropsychologist Maude Lague-Beauvais commented, “A lot of people will complain of memory problems or attention problems and then it’s our job as neuropsychologists to determine if these problems were there beforehand or are there as signs of concussion.”
Although people can make a complete recovery from a concussion, it is vitally important that the injured person rests and gives themselves time following the injury. They should avoid any activities that may result in them hitting their head again (such as contact sport) and ensure they allow themselves time to fully recover. Friends, family and colleagues should also be mindful of their injury and understand that the recovery process is essential and therefore not to rush things.