Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
A National Institutes of Health Web site states that a traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs "when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain." People involved in automobile, bicycle, motorcycle and pedestrian accidents comprise about half of all cases. The severity can range from mild to severe.
In his lifetime, 36-year-old Patrick Jones of Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, has had eight concussions. "And each of the concussions was different," he said in a telephone interview. "A couple of them were bicycle-related. One happened when I was going fast on a bike, and a car turned left and cut me off."
The first came at age 12. While swinging at a playground, he severely injured his head after the rope snapped at the highest point of the swing.
Even with the concussions, Jones, a University of Denver graduate, was still physically able to work as a personal financial adviser. Then in 2002, while running over a landscaping berm, he accidentally knocked his head on a low-hung tree branch at full force. It was the straw that broke the camel's back, he said. Since then, he has been unemployed.
His current symptoms are constant vertigo, variable fatigue, and short-term memory and cognitive challenges.
As for the vertigo, he said, "On a 'good' day, I'm able to compensate. For walking and hiking, I use two walking sticks. On 'hard' days, I can't compensate, so I just stay in a reclined position, and read, or use the Internet."
With fatigue, he experiences "good days" only about half the time.
As for short-term memory: "My concentration is easily distracted. I can derail my own thoughts and have no idea what I was thinking a second before. The distraction can be either an internal or external stimuli." (Due to short-term memory issues, in order to successfully complete this telephone interview, Jones had to prepare his answers beforehand.)
He said that family and friends sometimes don't understand his disability-related shortcomings because, to them, he looks just fine on the outside. "I have an invisible injury," he said. His condition has challenged his wife, too.
Even with all his injury problems, he still enjoys serving others. In 2007, Jones was ordained as a permanent deacon in the Catholic church. He said, "In terms of ministry, I moderate two support groups for brain-injured people, and have a website, braininjurychaplain.com."
For more information, go to danieljvance.com. (Blue Valley Sod and Palmer Bus Service grants make this column possible.)