What a concussion feels like from the inside
Published Monday, November 21, 2016 8:42PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 21, 2016 9:03PM EST
Candy canes, coat hangers, and games with pegs all have a role to play in determining the severity of a concussion.
160,000 Canadians suffer brain injuries each year, half of which come from falls and car cashes.
Dr. Reza Farivar, the scientific director of the traumatic brain injury program at the Montreal General Hospital, said many people do not realize how badly they are hurt, while their friends, family and colleagues don't know what a person with a concussion is experiencing.
"You're a really poor judge of knowing how bad your brain is doing," said Dr. Farivar.
To show people the effects of a concussion, this weekend the MUHC researchers and clinicians will be holding a brain injury exposition that is part information session, part fundraiser.
They have multiple ways to show people what it's like to be concussed, including wearing vision-distorting goggles.
Dr. Farivar said it shows people that driving with a brain injury has as much the same effect as driving drunk -- but they just don't know it.
"The reason why it's hard to sometimes convince a drunk driver. It's the same thing, right?" said Dr. Farivar.
"People think that they're feeling fine, it's going to be great, but you're actually going to be a lot slower. You're going to be poorer at reacting to things happening in your environment."
Wearing vision-altering goggles also makes seemingly simple tasks, like picking candy canes off coat hangers, extremely difficult.
Dr. Farivar said the lack of hand-eye co-ordination is very similar to having a concussion.
To evaluate executive decision-making skills, one test that neuropsychologist Maude Lague-Beauvais gives is a tower ball test.
"A lot of people will complain of memory problems or attentional problems and then it's our job as neuropsychologists to determine if these problems were there beforehand or are there as signs of the concussion," she said.
The simple stacking game used by many pre-verbal children requires being able to plan ahead, and can demonstrate a brain injury.
"In our jobs nowadays, we do multiple tasks at once, and so maybe the sequencing of all these tasks at once will be harder to manage," said Lague-Beauvais.
Brains will heal from a concussion, as long as the individual does not suffer repeated injuries.
However it can take weeks, if not months, to recover, and with no visible signs of injury, many people pressure those with brain injuries to get back to work.
"People sort of take it seriously like 'oh, you've really hit your head, that's a big deal. But two weeks, come on, you're good enough, get back to work,'" said Dr. Farivar.
The Mind the Brain Expo takes place Saturday Nov. 26 in Livingston Hall of the Montreal General Hospital.