Cognitive Functioning (CFBI)

What is Cognitive Functioning Brain Injury (CFBI)? CFBI is who we are, a subgroup of brain injury survivors that are cognitive functioning, with symptoms that are not necessarily obvious or visible to others. While those symptoms are challenging and often debilitating, the struggle is often hidden and the path to overcome is usually concealed. That is the CFBI burden, and together we can make a difference. Brain injury symptoms include but are not limited to headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, impulsive behavior, (reduced) inhibitions, brain fog, blurred vision, anxiety, memory loss, balance issues, hearing issues, dexterity, photophobia, issues with depth perception, decreased reaction time, clouded judgment, sensitivity to sound & light, low attention span, losing old knowledge, difficulty retaining new knowledge, decreased focus, sensory overload, and brain processing jam.

CFBI inclusion

This special category includes (TBI) Traumatic Brain Injury (combat soldiers, sports athletes, accidents, etc.) and (ABI) Acquired Brain Injury (strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, hereditary or other diseases that affect the brain, etc.). We also include misdiagnosed PTSD patients and Covid-19 long-hauler (long-COVID) patients who are experiencing brain injury-like symptoms, for obvious reasons.

The CFBI dilemma

In 1977, at age 17, I had a bike accident. I was airborne for a distance of toughly 40 feet, landed on my head without a helmet, and lost my left leg below the knee, where the car’s bumper struck my calf. If we meet, you will not notice my brain injury, but my physical limitation will be obvious because I use an artificial leg. After my accident, I received excellent medical care, but the term brain injury was never discussed, and I did not receive the needed diagnosis or treatment. I went on to struggle for years alone, without help, spending much of my energy hiding what I felt instead of fixing what I have. Hence our dilemma: you look normal, why can’t you act normal?

CFBI hardship

The main reason for hardship is that brain injury recovery generally takes months to years before improvements can be realized. While the deficits in the brain are not showing on your forehead, they are having all sorts of impact on your daily living. Further, your ongoing complaints will eventually be dismissed by your medical care provider, and over time will lead to breakdown of your social and support network, out of frustration. Everyone is becoming fatigued and impatient. After all, in this fast paced world, it is natural to expect things to move along. Soon, you get the feeling that everyone stopped believing in you and your symptoms. Then your self preservation kicks in, and CFBI patients start shutting everyone out, which in time may lead to social isolation. In the end, regardless of what anyone feels or wants, brain injury recovery and progress are anything but fast. The brain has its own time table, with all of the ongoing changes, repairs, and rewiring that are taking place.

Making a difference for CFBI

With proper mentoring and coaching, support and targeted activities, most CFBI patients can lead relatively healthy and productive lives. I like to call it walking the cognitive functioning line. For many years, I have walked this line in two ways, myself and while supporting my daughter. The rise and fall of symptoms and emotions must be met with gentle but effective coaching and support, thus creating a cushiony backdrop to help prevent CFBI from failing. Continue on a good path through the healing and recovery journey is a must, while the brain is undergoing the necessary rewiring and repairs. It is not an easy journey, but you will have us for a partner, and we will all have one option, “keep on keeping on”.