top of page
  • Matthew Hora

Working in academia with a TBI

In July of 2014 I got a concussion while sitting in a park, near a bunch of folks kicking soccer balls around. The ensuing months have been a roller coaster of mild improvement, debilitating headaches, aversion to light (especially in the fall when the angle of the sun sharpens), and the inability to concentrate. With mild tramautic brain injuries, recovery times vary from person to person, but one consistent thing I've heard is that exposure to triggers must be minimized for the brain to heal. Triggers can be things like bright lights, beer, loud noises, or in my case - intensive cognitive work. In other words, what academics and researchers do every day for their work.

One doesn't often feel the brain as much as something like your fingers touching something, or a stiff neck after a long day, or a stomach grumbling with hunger. Instead, it's just there, doing all sorts of amazing processing and work beneath the surface (or not as the case may be!). But when the blood vessels traveling through it get inflamed or constricted, the nerve endings start yelling and we all know what a headache feels like.

And in the past year I've met all sorts who live with headaches and migraines on a daily basis, and of course have become more aware of the hordes of servicepeople returning from war zones and others who have experienced TBI from car accidents, sports accidents, and who knows what. And knowing that many of those folks keep on trucking on, coping with it the best they can and getting through the day, certainly helps. But #@$%!, somedays it's like a giant toothache gripping my eyeballs and drilling into the center of my head where a fist gently squeezes with every heartbeat, and then it becomes very difficult to work on that paper, analyze those data, engage in that conversation, or attend that meeting. Luckily, my neurologist said no meetings over 1 hour, so that's a free pass. And I can' think of any job where this would be easier, but it seems like doing intense thinking all day every day is pretty counterproductive, kind of like someone with a torn ACL going down double black diamond mogul runs Well, maybe not that bad. So gonna keep on trucking while doing all of the healing tips and tricks I've been picking up, but the idea of laying under a shade tree on a beach and thinking of nothing, nothing at all, sure sounds sweet.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Stepping down as Director of CCWT at UW-Madison

Professional update: After 6 years of leading one of the nation’s first applied research centers dedicated to student-focused studies of college-work dynamics, I’m happy to announce that I’m stepping

bottom of page