Choosing the Right Language–Should You Call It a “Traumatic Brain Injury” or “Bump to the Head” or What?

June 13, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

What exactly should you call your traumatic brain injury, and why should the language matter?

Whether you got hit in the head at football practice, jarred by an automobile accident or injured in a slip and fall outside a Charlotte boutique, you have some sort of head injury accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, disorientation, memory loss, and other troubling signs.

But does it really matter what you call it? Is semantics a waste of time here?

Not necessarily.

The language that we use to talk about our problems can powerfully influence the steps that we take (or do not take) to manage our situations. The use of strong language like “traumatic brain injury” may lead you (and your caregivers) to take the situation seriously, act aggressively, and be extra resourceful.

On the other hand, if you use more vanilla language like “I got hit in the head” or “I fell down and bonked my head”–then you and other people might not take the situation as seriously.

When we use different words–“laceration” as opposed to “cut,” for instance–we seek out different kinds of help, and we get different kinds of service.

Obviously, you don’t want to overinflate your injury. Perhaps you only suffered a mild concussion (or “TBI”). But when it comes to head injuries, it’s far better to be overly cautious than overly casual. The consequences of erring in the direction of “being too cavalier” could be horrific. If you talk in overly gentle terms about your head injury, you might be tempted to go back to work early and put yourself at risk for a second concussion.

Conversely, if you err on side of being too cautious, you might be more neurotic and stressed in the short term, but that neuroticism will pass eventually without any long-term consequences.

Whether you suffered a substantial TBI or an “on the bubble” concussion case, get in touch with the team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a free consultation today.



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