While the effects of traumatic brain injuries have received increase notice due to the NFL concussion litigation, those who were not sports fans may not have followed those developments as closely as they otherwise would. However, the unfortunate accident that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed James “Jimmy Mack” McNair casts the problems that can potentially be caused by a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a different light. As can be seen even more clearly following the Tracy Morgan accident, traumatic brain injuries can cause severe impairments that can affect your ability to work, carry out day-to-day tasks, or even function in society. At their most severe a TBI can even lead to death.
What types of effects can a TBI cause?
A TBI can cause wide ranging effects to cognitive, social and mental effects. The types of effects that are experienced is based on the type of damage that was inflicted on the brain and the brain structures that were damaged. Brain structures and the consequences of damage to those structures includes:
- Frontal lobe– Frontal lobe damage can affect many aspects of personality and emotional responses. Damage to this part of the brain can cause problems with reacting to new situations, issues with orientation to time and place, problems with language or words association, impairments in reasoning and problem solving, and issues with abstract thinking.
- Brain stem – Damage to the brain stem can cause problems with automatic nervous functions like breathing, swallowing, heart rate, reflexes, the ability to sleep, and one’s balance.
- Cerebellum – The cerebellum controls many of the lower brain functions. Damage to this part of the brain can impair coordination, balance and memory.
- Parietal lobe – The parietal lobe controls visual attention, perception of touch, the ability to manipulate objects and the ability to synthesize information from your 5 senses.
- Occipital lobe – Damage to this part of the brain primarily causes problems with vision.
- Temporal lobe – Damage to the temporal lobe can result in problems with hearing, forming new memories, face recognition, processing verbal information and categorizing objects.
The effects of a brain injury can be seen in nearly every aspect of the body and mind. A severe TBI can even transform once routine tasks that the individual once considered to be automatic into significant ordeals requiring focus & determination.
How is Tracy Morgan being affected by his Injuries & TBI?
Aside from suffering fractured ribs, a broken nose and a broken leg Tracy Morgan also suffered what has been described as a severe brain injury. According to Morgan’s attorney, “He’s fighting to get better. And if there’s a chance for him to be back to the Tracy Morgan he once was, he’s going to try to do that. But we just don’t know because of the severity of the injuries that he sustained and the fact that he had such a severe brain injury.” Morgan has already had to pass on several roles due to his injuries, and unfortunately, there may not be an end in sight. In fact, there is the distinct possibility that Tracy Morgan will never work again.
Will Tracy Morgan Recover from his TBI?
Despite several weeks in the hospital following the accident and extensive rehabilitative therapy, Mr. Morgan has apparently not recovered to a level where he can perform as he once did. An actor and, to an even greater degree, a stand-up comedian rely on a language skills, timing, rhetoric ability, and emotional appeals to connect with an audience. These are the exact skills and abilities that can be severely impaired by a serious brain injury.
However there is still hope that Tracy Morgan can recover and regain most of his former abilities. During the first 6 months an individual will show the greatest amount of improvement. However the individual can show significant improvement during 2 years following the injury. Even after 2 years there can be improvements, but those improvements are typically small. At this point, Tracy Morgan is around 5-months removed from his accident. Therefore he still may yet show rapid improvement over the next month or during the upcoming years. He must remain committed to rehabilitative therapy and work to push through the pain and suffering if he is to maximize his recovery. However, in the meantime, Mr. Morgan has suffered damages not only in the form of his physical injuries but also in the work that he has lost due to putting his career on hold.
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