Why guidelines for treatment after concussion/mild traumatic brain injury are so important to me

Back to guidelines for concussion/mild traumatic brain injury this morning.

I have been thinking about what is the most important thing to me personally as a survivor about the updated Guidelines for Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Persistent Symptoms developed by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF).   I introduced the guidelines in my blog a couple of weeks ago.    They are the first guidelines for the treatment of civilian adults with persistent symptoms in the world.

They have been updated recently to include the latest research and clinical knowledge.   I worked with a group of other experts on these, including several experts from the U.S. and Australia as well as experts from Canada.

I know that the ONF guidelines may be difficult to read and understand since they are written for Health Professionals.   So I want to talk about what they mean to me and explain them in a way that can be understood for people with concussion and mild traumatic brain injury and those who love them.   Here’s the link to the guidelines posted on the ONF website: www.onf.org/documents/guidelines-for-concussion-mtbi-persistent-symptoms-second-edition

Before I go further, I have to say alittle about my ability to prioritize what the most important thing about the guidelines is to me.   Prioritizing is definitely not my strong -suit post-injury.   In fact, what I have come to learn is that prioritization requires some higher level executive functioning skills that I am still consciously working on to improve.

I will say though that my ability to prioritize has gotten better with practice.   In fact, I remember that people would ask me what’s the most important thing  about this or that for you?   And it would stump me.   I couldn’t answer, especially in the time that they expected me to answer it.    I learned to compensate by learning to ask — “Could you give me a yes or no question?”

Later, I learned to try to say it with a little humor — “Could you give me an easier question for less money?”

Practice in awareness has also helped me recognize that even without my challenges in prioritizing, it might be difficult figuring out the most important thing about the concussion/mild traumatic brain injury guidelines.  I say that because there are many important parts of the ONF guidelines that affect me as a survivor very personally.    And,  I know that many of the parts are important to other survivors because I have had many conversations with survivors and their loved ones who have had big difficulties finding the help they need after concussion/mild traumatic brain injury.  And the guidelines address many of the questions that I and others have taken weeks, months or years trying to resolve  for ourselves.

As I sat down to write this blog this morning, I realize that  the first thing I really need to explain is why I think Guidelines for Doctors and Health Professionals for treating patients with concussion/mild traumatic brain injury are helpful to survivors and their families and why I would like to see them for every country.   Then I will talk about specifics in the ONF guidelines.   I think they could be used as a basis (or jumping off point) for the development of guidelines in other countries.

Guidelines are important because, quite simply, many people with concussion are (still) not getting the best advice on appropriate treatment after concussion/mild traumatic brain injury.   So, again quite simply, better information to Health Professionals will lead to better outcomes for people with concussions/mild traumatic brain injuries.



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