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I was hit by a car, and the resulting brain injury changed my life forever, by Bryan Logan of Business Insider


Stashed in: Awesome, Brain injury, Harvard, Brain, @amyjccuddy, Inspiring Stories

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Bryan writes:

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can change you from the inside out, quite literally. Social psychologist Amy J.C. Cuddy, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, put it like this:

Your brain is made up of different layers, so with an impact to the head, those layers move against each other at different speeds, and parts of the nerve cells that transfer information get damaged throughout the brain. Ultimately, that means you end up a little bit different, everywhere … your emotions, your thoughts, your preferences, everything is a little different.

The changes can happen in countless ways, meaning no two TBI patients are alike. The effects can include forgetfulness, mood changes, excessive sleeping, insomnia, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, vision and speech problems, and seizures. Intellectual capacity can be affected.

Bryan adds:

My IQ, once in the “gifted” range, had fallen. After further evaluations showed the loss wasn’t enough to significantly impair my cognitive ability, doctors called me one of the “lucky ones.” But there were times I’d get so frustrated with myself because I didn’t feel as sharp as I did before the accident.

I had to put in tremendous effort to think clearly. I hated that this terrible accident happened, and wished I could be my old self again.

Even now, nearly five years later, I still think back to how that one night changed my life.

Recently, I shared my experience over the phone with Cuddy, who is known for a presentation she gave on the “power pose”at the TED Global conference in 2012. During the talk, she famously revealed she’d suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was 19 after being thrown from a car that had rolled over. Her IQ decreased by nearly 30 points because of the accident.

Here’s some of our conversation:

Me: The brain injury makes you feel like a shell of your old self, doesn’t it?

Amy: It changes you completely.

Me: But at the same time you’re still trying to be the person you were before the injury.

Amy: I couldn’t remember my old self well enough. You can’t just put it together again … it’s like holding on to a ball of wet sand that’s drying, and it’s slipping through your fingers.

Me: That’s an isolating feeling.

Amy: It’s totally isolating. I realised that I had to let it go and just take this leap of faith that something else was out there — that some other self was there and that I just didn’t know her yet.

Amy inspired me. She was the first person I heard about who also endured a traumatic brain injury and fought her way through it. After her injury, she earned a doctorate at Princeton and has since published dozens of academic and professional studies while teaching some of the world’s top business students at Harvard.

Like her, I was determined not to let my TBI problems define me.

I wonder if it's easier or harder for them because they had their brain injuries at such a young age... while their brains were still growing and plastic.

I wonder too.

It means they never got to know their fully formed adult self.

It sounds like the author Bryan really wants to hear other peoples' brain injury stories.

I think that's part of why he outed himself with this article. 

Bryan concludes with:

If you have a similar story, or know someone who does, I’d like to hear from you. Send me an email at blogan@businessinsider.com.

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