Dispraxia Appears to Be a Common Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and Encephalitis Residual
Five years post ABI, I’m amazed at what I still discover as residuals. For years, I’ve told doctors that the simple stuff is hard for me, but not until I’ve been able to document numerous stories have I gotten an explanation. Just a couple of weeks ago, the doctors put a name to this mind-baffling confusion I get in the simple things in life.
For those with brain injury, can you relate to any of these “simple” phenomena that occurred overnight? Here are a few that plague me …
- Not remembering which finger to wear my wedding band, so secretly grabbing a peek at my husband’s finger and swapping hands while he isn’t looking.
- Hanging up the phone and THEN saying “goodbye.”
- Knowing which door to use when leaving a grocery store … “I am ‘entering’ the parking lot, right? So do I choose the ‘entrance’ door??”
- Turning up the volume on the car radio when I really mean to turn on the heater.
- Spraying water all over the kitchen floor because my cup is upside down when I’m trying to refill it at the frig door.
- Forgetting to zip my pants (happens all the times … so embarrassing … am I really writing this publicly?).
- Getting the return address and stamp in the reverse order.
- Pulling the door and when it won’t budge, I decide the store must be closed (despite people inside) vs. thinking to push the door open.
- Switching the knife and fork back and forth repeatedly because I can’t figure out which one holds the meat while the other cuts.
- Leaving my glasses on when taking a shower and not realizing it until I lather my lenses.
- Hanging up on someone when I’m going from speaker phone to hand held unit.
Okay. So I’ve embarrassed myself enough to make a point. Even with an executive-level job and being an author, I’m not immune to this post brain injury residual. It doesn’t make me stupid, but it is certainly humbling when suddenly the “easy” stuff … the things that are “black and white” and there’s only “one way to do it” are now quite difficult. Yet give me a complex problem and I can tackle it with many options.
There’s a NAME for this craziness. I had no idea until I swallowed my pride and gave these ridiculous examples to my doctor recently. With all this evidence, he smiled heartily, as if ready to tell a punchline. And he said, “Oh … with those examples, it’s easy … you have dispraxia as a result of encephalitis.”
Dispraxia comes from the Greek word praxia. “Praxis” means an act, work, or deed and of course “dis” meaning without. It’s characterized by loss of the ability to execute or carry out learned purposeful movements, despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform the movements. It is a disorder of motor planning but is not caused by incoordination, sensory loss, or failure to comprehend simple commands. It is caused by damage to specific areas of the cerebrum.
And although this one doesn’t happen with enough frequency for me to “claim it,” I understand many people with dispraxia have a difficult time putting clothes on the right way or put refrigerated items in the cupboard and cups in the frig.
Yes, some of you are saying, “I do that and I didn’t suffer a brain injury.” But for those of us who did, this happened overnight. And many of us are young, so it’s not a sign of the natural act of aging.
Perhaps this helps others who contend with this random residual. Laughable usually, but embarrassing too! Have a story to share? Check out “Brain Wreck” for lots of funny moments like these.
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