What you describe is essentially the "postconcussion syndrome", and has
been described by many others.
Your being able to act with awareness and intelligence immediately
after the accident but not being able to recall it later is similar to
what we are beginning to find when victims of "controlled
concussion"--i.e. athletes--are studied systematically immediately
after blows to the head. Some of them are able to recall details of
the game, including play leading up to the impact, if questioned
immediately, but are unable to do so when questioned an hour or so
Some neuropsychologists and neurologists do not believe that mild head
trauma with such brief loss of consciousness can cause brain damage,
and failure to see any signs of this in MRI or other laboratory
procedures tends to confirm them in this belief. They look for
explanations in terms of everything from emotiuonal problems to
outright faking (e.g. in support of lawsuits for damages).
Other neuropsychologists and neurologists do believe the symptoms are
organically based, but have a hard time explaining how this couuld
be--although reference to diffuse axonal damage is sometimes resorted
I believe that there is an organic basis for such complaints, and the
explanation that I have been trying to develop for several years
(papers presented at meetings of the International Neuropsychological
Society and of the Society for Neuroscience, as well as a conference
that I organized at New York University Medical Center last spring) is
in terms of possible neuroimmune processes triggered by mild trauma.
Don't know what to say about the acne, but to the extent that stress
seems to exacerbate skin eruptions (my informal observation), altered
stress responses involved in the rest of the PCS might be a
I did hear of a website for survivors of head injury (out of
Harvard???) but do not recall its URL--a web search should turn it up.
Also, in many communities there are support groups for survivors of TBI
(traumatic brain injury); members are likely to be those with moderate
or severe injuries, but when I spoke at a conference attended by
members of such groups (last October, in Virginia), there were a few
with mild TBI in the audience. Look in your local directory for "Brain
Injury Association"--e.g., BIANY (brain injury asociattion of NY),
It is important to recognize that you do have problems (i.e. it's not
just your imagination), and also important to recognize that you can
deal with the problems (i.e. not let them be an excuse for "dropping
F. Frank LeFever, Ph.D.
New York Neuropsychology Group
In <370856D2.237C at linfield.edu> Matthew Deming <mdeming at linfield.edu>
>>I was wondering if anyone could refer me to a website or research that
>dealt with the following:
>>In 1990 I was in a serious motor accident where I hit the side of my
>face on the dashboard causing my jaw to fracture and leaving me
>unconscious for approximately 10 - 15 minutes. Accordingly to a
>right after we hit the embankment I managed to unbuckle my seatbelt,
>my feet on the dash, push myself over the seat into the backseat and
>crawl out the back driver side window and resting on the side of the
>road. Anyways, I was taken to an emergency room and had a
>or MRI?) where the imaging indicated that I had a clot of some sort
>between the skin and my skull in the area above my right eye.
>Before the accident I was a well adjusted person, doing well in
>active in sports, very outgoing, and very technically oriented.
>after the accident my grades began to take a turn for the worse, I
>feeling drowsy, lathargic, not able to concentrate as much, I no
>am interested in sports, and am a very shy and introverted person.
>My diethas never changed, I've always ate quite healthy, never
>in things such as soda and chocolate. Oh, before the accident I had a
>clear flawless complextion. After the accident I developed a really
>acne problem that is still with me somewhat today. Acne "didn't run"
>my family, I don't know if this is common or not.
>Anyways I'd appreciate any help in figuring out if I have a problem or
>not. If you could direct me to any web sites or other research that
>would most definately be helpful.