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Comprehending cognition

Traumatic brain injuries have become a hot button topic both in Pittsburgh and throughout the country in recent years. Yet a good deal of misunderstanding may still exist about TBIs. Most may think that only those injuries which result in severe brain damage can cause lifelong effects. However, mild TBIs (concussions) can also leave one struggling with cognitive issues. What is most frightening about this fact is that concussions are quite prevalent in the U.S. In fact, research information shared by Truven Health estimates that as many as a quarter of the American population has sustained at least one.

To fully comprehend exactly what sort of cognitive issues concussions may cause, one must first understand what cognition is. Simply put, it is the process of thinking. While this may seem simple at face value, a closer reveals how much the way one thinks effects his or her daily life. Thinking includes:

  •          Concentrating long enough to process information
  •          Understanding, reasoning and problem solving
  •          Retaining information both in the short- and long-term
  •          Communicating clearly
  •          Controlling impulses

According to the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, suffering short-term and long lasting cognitive issues is not all that uncommon even following a mild TBI. Concussion victims may report being easily distracted of having trouble focusing on multiple tasks simultaneously. They also may take longer to accurately understand instructions, and even more difficulty processing them. Frequent memory lapses make it difficult to stay on task and complete projects on time. As the cumulative effects of the aforementioned struggles builds, TBI victims may then be prone to frustrated outbursts. All of these problems can have an impact on one’s daily activities, career and social life. While they may be temporary in some cases, many concussion victims could end up having to deal with them for years. 

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