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Head injury--serious or not?

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Wed Nov 26 23:33:47 EST 1997

(1) You do not describe any immediate effects (loss of consciousness,
prolonged confusion, nor obvious impairment of motor or sensory
functions on the right side of your body) so severe focal damage seems
highly unlikely.  Nor do you describe left-side symptoms suggesting
severe contre coup and damage to the RIGHT side of your brain. 
Accordingly, deficits in "left-hemisphere" functions (language, etc.)
should not be expected (nor right-hemisphere functions).

Yes, it is POSSIBLE to get discrete lesions with subtle cognitive
effects and no motor or sensory effects (and vice versa)), but not very
likely with blunt trauma.

(2) it IS possible for SOME people to have some symptoms following even
such a mild trauma as you describe. We do not yet know the basis for
individual differences, but I have suggested some neuroimmunological
possibilities at Society for Neuroscience meetings(Nov. 1996, Oct.
1997), and at International Neuropsychological Society meetings (June
or July 1995).  I will not describe them here lest it provoke them in
suggestible readers, but if you have them you will know you have them
and need not speculate.

(3) I am startled that some one describing himself as a
neuropsychologist can assert that boxers carry on just fine despite
repeated blows to the head.  There is a considerable literature
describing immediate and delayed effects (dementia pugilastica).  Even 
laymen have heard of old boxers being "punch drunk"! And what about
that splendid young man, M. Ali (nee Cassius Clay), now with severe
Parkinsonism?  Moreover, Dorothy Gronwall many years ago (c. 1/4
century?) pointed out the exagerated impact of a second trauma.

F. Frank LeFever, Ph.D.
New York Neuropsychology Group

In <347906A9.5B4F at earthlink.net> Marcello Spinella
<marshmallow at earthlink.net> writes: 
>mchowkwa wrote:
>> Hello..
>> Recently, an acquiantance of mine took a 3 inch binder (weighing
approx 2-3
>> pounds) and heaved it towards my head.  The binder made contact with
the left
>> side of my brain (the mathematical/logical side) and the acquaitance
>> approxiamently 100-110 pounds.  I am concerned that this impact may
>> caused some brain damage and effected my mathemtical logical
abilities, and,
>> more importantly could result in the falling of my grades.  Could
this be
>> possible or is this more of a psychological issue I have to get
over?  Would
>> my skull be protecting it?  The binder was heaved while my head was
still, but
>> was NOT able to displace my feet.  It merely contacted my head.
>> thanx, please tell me if i am overreacting.
>I'm a neuropsychologist who works with brain injured adults.
>Probably no big deal.  Did you lose consciousness when you were hit? 
>Just because someting hit your head it doesn't necessarily mean that
>your brain was damaged.  The brain floats in cerebrospinal fluid
>the skull, which acts as a shock absorber.  Further, there are lots of
>redundant connections in the brain so that losing a few doesn't
>devastate it's ability to function.  It only begins to affect it after
>several blows to the head over a period of time. (Consider all the
>to the head a boxer takes and still is able to function).
>Marcello Spinella

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