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Adding Insult to Brain Injury

Cusack, Patricia A.

Department: Raising Voices to Break A Silent Epidemic

West Paterson, N.J.

Thank you for your Special Report on Brain Injury [“War on the Brain,” September/October 2006]. Traumatic brain injury is a silent epidemic, and it feels so good to be validated. In 2004 I was struck on the head and neck by a large backpack. I was working at a department store in the jewelry department and, while assisting a customer, I was knocked to the ground. Everything went black and I saw stars, but I could hear the people around me talking. I remember feeling a tremendous amount of pain. The most frustrating and lonely part was dealing with the doctors who were so dismissive of my symptoms and pain. I searched for help and found it in Dr. Frank Gazzillo of North Jersey Neurologic Associates. Two years later I still suffer with pain because I have cervical and lumbar radiculopathy, and I also have “classic” migraines.

My family is very supportive, and they understand when I can't handle all the noise or when I can't remember something I may have done or said recently. Sometimes I just need to check out, take my medications, and lie down because the pain in my head, neck, or back is so bad. I miss the old me, but at 38 I am accepting the new me.

Thank you for bringing other people's stories and traumatic brain injury to the medical field's attention.

Patricia A. Cusack

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West Paterson, N.J.

©2006 American Academy of Neurology