This is Gordon Johnson: Welcome to Brain Injury Help.com. We are here to provide support and hope. Support for what lies ahead after brain injury. Hope that recovery can make a difference. This is Attorney Gordon Johnson and I’m here with Dr. Erin Bigler. Dr. Bigler is a Professor of Psychology and Neurosciences at Brigham Young University. Doctor, I want to start with just talking about some of the most important things for people as they come to these pages needing support after brain injury. What can we do and say to get them started?
Dr. Erin Bigler: As a professor, education is key to me. and understanding the brain, understanding its anatomy, understanding how it’s injured, what parts, what aspects of the brain may be injured. Then the level of injury, injury severity is key in understanding what may be occurring in someone who’s had a brain injury. So my focus is very much on education.
Gordon Johnson: As I, as I authored Brian Injury Help, I started with the premise that I wanted to first deal with the most emergent situation, the situation where the loved one of someone is in a coma. So our advocacy starts out being written for the moms, for the spouses, for the fathers who are waiting to find out if this person with a severe brain injury is going to wake from a coma. For that reason, your point about education was important, because I wanted people to be able to learn something about what’s happening to their loved one while they’re sitting and waiting for them to wake up. For that reason, we are going to start our discussion with brain anatomy and then move into severe brain injury pathology.
But I also want to leave very much a message of hope. As you sit there in those dark hours after a brain injury waiting for someone to wake up, it is so important to have hope. Talk to me about the hope that is there that despite this horrible severe, um, catastrophic injury in your, in your loved, loved one’s life there is hope.
Dr. Erin Bigler: There absolutely is hope and lots of individuals survive brain injury and recover and adapt. The brain is an organ that when damaged may not be able to repair itself, but it may be able to recover in the sense that alternate pathways or compensatory areas of the brain can take over function. Also, you mentioned coma. Coma can occur because of a strategic area of the brain being involved without other areas being affected. On the other hand, coma can occur because of some very widespread generalized pathologic changes that have occurred in the brain. So depending on what’s actually the basis for the coma, it gives us some better understanding of what may occur in the recovery process.
Gordon Johnson: One of the things that the neurosurgeons are almost always telling the family is we will ‘just have to wait and see.’ One of the challenges that we have today is to give a better answer to that. We don’t know the specific medical problems that any one person may have that comes here, but there is more information than we will ‘just have to wait and see.’ What we have available for us today that the neurosurgeon doesn’t is:
We have some time to teach.
And what I want to begin today with is teaching and let’s teach about some of the basic principles of brain anatomy and then about the pathology that causes brain injury, causes coma and then we’ll move on to, to some other topics.
Dr. Erin Bigler: Sounds good.