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The Average Person is Not Average

Amanda Nachman

Brain Injury Blog by Amanda Nachman

March 25, 2013

The Average Person is Not Average – living wiht MTBI

On more than one occasion along my journey with my MTBI, I was told that the average person is at this point, and so therefore I should be at that point as well.  I was told the average person who has a MTBI, might have certain symptoms, but does not have symptoms such as speech changes so therefore I was told I was “unusual”.  I began to reflect on what average means, and how many of us actually fit in to the average category.

We Are Not Mathematical Equations

The average is not the number that occurs most often like the mode, or the number exactly in the middle like the median, it is the result of adding the numbers up and dividing them by the number in the group.   Therefore, the individual numbers become lumped into one number. This mathematical approach works out well when reporting on concrete subjects, but what about the individual human element?  Can you really lump all people with mild traumatic brain injuries in to one category and say that the averages point to these concrete outcomes?  What seems to be the glitch in this approach is that although we are basically built the same, our brains do not all function, respond to injury, or heal the same.  In this case there are too many factors that play in to the outcome of the injury.  Unfortunately, what I have found along the way is that many doctors are not only unwilling to think outside the box, but unwilling to think outside their medical school textbooks.

With the brain and mind being as mysterious as the deep oceans, how can the medical field put down a definition of “average” when it comes to mild traumatic brain injuries?  In my book, Who Am I Again?, I address some of the challenges I came across by not fitting in to what doctors saw as the “average person”.  Rather than providing a healing environment, it created a damaging environment.  I began to dread going to the doctor. Even though we are individuals, we are given the message that if we don’t fit into their idea of what average looks like, there must be something wrong with us.  The question is, how many of us actually could be put in to this box?  My dream is that some day doctors working with patients who have had brain injuries, will look at us as individuals and acknowledge that there are no averages when it comes to symptoms and healing from a  mild traumatic brain injury.