Brain Injury Dialogues consists of a number of interviews and sound bites in which people with brain injury (usually acquired in adulthood) describe how it has affected their lives after its acquisition. In some cases, the brain injury was initially undiagnosed, but resulting cognitive difficulties negatively impacted their lives (in one case, a woman ended up homeless for years) and compromised their survival in the complex world around them. In the past, brain injury in previously “normal” adults was often not recognized or acknowledged, and resulting impairments were ignored or left unrehabilitated. Besides memory and distractibility issues, acquired brain injury can also affect mood and personality in subtle ways.

A look at a support group for “high-functioning” persons with Traumatic Brain Injury is provided in which participants commiserate and state that those who are without a partner or involved person as a support system have a nearly-impossible time with the road ahead. Technical terms are eschewed, and descriptions of what exactly happened to particular centers in individuals’ brains are not given; but participants describe widely varying patterns of symptomology: one man became blind as part of the TBI package, another can’t drive because of distractibility, overstimulation, and direction perception issues, others have speech production and articulation issues.

Cognitive rehab (specialized occupational therapy) offers hope to some, albeit gradual and incremental improvement due to neuroplasticity.

One woman who actually earned a college degree post-injury described failed job searches in which she was not hired due to the perception that in trying to deal with her processing problems, she was asking for special privileges or making excuses.

A consensus emerges among TBI survivors that education of society about the needs of those with brain injury are needed, as are meaningful accommodations to assist them in accessing the services they need in public benefits offices, and helping them navigate such challenging public environments as college campuses and airports.

Companion website: http://www.braininjurydialogues.org