Monthly Archives: November 2013

Frankie Muniz and Stroke Symptoms

Former Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz recently announced on twitter that he had suffered a second “mini-stroke” not even a full year after he’d endured his first.  Though Muniz is only 27 years old, the staff at TLC have treated individuals who have experienced strokes at even younger ages.   Below is a link to an article about Muniz’s stroke:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/frankie-muniz-stroke_n_4345286.html

 

“Mini strokes”, more properly known as Transient Ischemic Attacks, occur when a blood vessel is briefly blocked which stops blood from flowing to part of the brain.  They should always been taken very seriously as they often indicate the potential for a life-threatening larger stroke in the future.  Anyone experiencing potential stroke symptoms should seek immediate medical help.  You should not try to “sleep it off.”  Some of the more common symptoms are:
Facial droop
Loss of or difficulty with speech, which can also include inhibited speech comprehension
Loss of use, weakness or numbness in a limb
Full or partial loss of vision
Sudden, strong headache
Loss of balance, hampered coordination or even the sudden total inability to walk
Remember, the quicker a stroke is treated the better the chance that stroke damage can be minimized.

 

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

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What Is a “Flat Affect?”

There are so many terms that family and friends of brain injury survivors are exposed to that are simply not part of our day to day vocabulary.   Learning to understand all these new terms while attempting to cope with an already trying experience can be quite dizzying.  I would like to take a moment to explain one of those terms, “flat (or flattened) affect.”

 
A flat (or flattened) affect is when a person does not display or experience emotions with the same intensity that  he or she did before an injury so that the affect (mood) of the individual in question appears to be unchanging (flat).  This symptom is most common in right-sided brain injuries.  A survivor with a flat affect may be told that a friend has died and blandly state, “That is too bad.”  The same survivor could be told that he or she has won a huge contest and simply say, “That is nice.”  Instead of being distraught and tearful in the first example or excited and elated in the second, everything ends up feeling to the survivor similarly ordinary.  This is not to say that the person does not understand the importance of each situation.  It is simply that the person’s brain is no longer capable of experiencing the strong emotions we generally associate with having encountered such a situation.  Rather than traversing the hills and valleys of normal emotional fluctuation, the person’s emotional experience is more akin to that of an even surface or flattened plain.

 
As we are social beings, a flat affect can of course interfere with social relationships.  Other people may find it awkward or off-putting when the survivor does not display the emotions that would be normally expected in a given situation.  For instance, a friend might find it odd that a warm smile is not reciprocated with a similar smile by the survivor.  It may feel to the other person like the survivor is now almost robotic in most interactions.  Many survivors with a flat affect need to be retaught social skills so as to allow for improved social functioning.  This may include learning to show facial expressions appropriate to the emotion associated with a given social interaction, even if the person is not feeling said emotion or perhaps not feeling the emotion very strongly.  Sometimes, loved ones mistakenly assume that the flat affect implies depression or anger.

 
A further complication is that the lack of or decline in the experiencing of emotions can also impact motivation to engage in activities.  If a person feels strongly that he or she wants to accomplish a goal, then motivation there will clearly be high.  However if the person feels little emotion to begin with, it is often difficult to arouse more than minimal motivation.  Many survivors with flat affect report little desire to participate in activities that they previously enjoyed or weak motivation for therapy.

 
Survivors with flat or flattened affect often find that as their injury heals, they experience a wider range of emotions.  Unfortunately, there are also those survivors for whom this will prove a symptom that provides some level of struggle throughout the remainder of their lives.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Tony Dorsett

Tony Dorsett was one of the greatest players in football history.  Over the years he began to experience memory loss, mood swings and thoughts of suicide.  He took the initiative to be tested for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a brain damage experienced secondary to multiple traumas to the brain.  In Dorsett’s case, these traumas occurred as a result of the thousands upon thousands of hits he endured  over the course of his playing career.  Dorsett was found to have signs of CTE.  The link below will bring you to a video in which he discusses his experience learning to cope with the symptoms of brain injury. In addition to providing further detail on Dorsett’s story, the article beneath the video relates the similar experiences of Hall of Fame lineman Joe DeLamielleure and All Pro linebacker Leonard Marshall as they also have experienced brain injury symptoms and received the CTE diagnosis.

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9931754/former-nfl-stars-tony-dorsett-leonard-marshall-joe-delameilleure-show-indicators-cte-resulting-football-concussions

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Jackie Chan is a Survivor

Jackie Chan has had a long and successful career acting in action and comedy movies.  His movies involve elaborate stunts and fight scenes.  Unlike other actors and actresses, Jackie does not like to use stuntmen in his place.  His insistence on doing his own stunts puts Jackie in many dangerous situations and has led to numerous injuries.  Few people realize that he once nearly died due to a brain injury suffered from a fall on the set of one of his movies and that as a result he then needed emergency brain surgery.  The link below will bring you to an excerpt from his autobiography in which he discusses his near death experience and subsequent surgery:

http://www.randomhouse.com/features/iamjackiechan/excerpt_aches.html

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org