Understanding Why Brain Injuries Are Called ‘Invisible Injuries’

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Anyone who has ever had a brain injury understands exactly what is meant when brain injuries are called the “invisible injuries.” You look the same, and everything on the surface seems normal, but there is something different that can’t be pinned-down.

It is usually hard to reconcile these types of changes because of how the outwards appearance still seems the same, and they don’t reflect the struggle on the outside. If someone breaks their leg, there is a cast, crutches, and clear signs of how painful walking is. There aren’t any casts or crutches to help someone through brain injury and symptoms like confusion, anxiety, and heightened visual sensitivity.

Even worse, everyone responds to brain injuries in different ways, dealing with different sets of symptoms. While some are more common than others, like headaches and confusion, there is no telling which symptoms one will be dealing with. When I had my mild brain injury in early 2012, the biggest problems were constant fatigue and headaches. For others, it may be nausea or dizziness.

An opinion piece in the Edmonton Examiner written by Madeleine Smith dives deeper into the nature of the “invisible injury” and her own family’s experience with brain injury. Her uncle’s brain injury was more severe, and the need for support was much greater.

As medical support tapers off and the patient is expected to return to their own life, the need for support is pushed onto the shoulders of those around the patient, and in some cases like Smith’s, it can tear apart a family.

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