General Medical staff knowledge of head injuries

We all know that the human brain is quite complex but since man has been getting head injuries since he first set foot on the planet why is there such a lack of knowledge / inclination to treat head injury ?.

If someone turns up at a GP with something like Diabetes, the support and therapy you get is immediate and well established. However, even after turning up to A&E or a GP surgery with a clear and obvious head injury you still struggle to get any recognition from your doctor. GP's must have covered head / brain injury as part of their training so why is it the majority of them are so vague on it since its hardly a new part of medicine ?

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13 Replies

  • One reason is that there is a limited amount that can be done with a head injury. The best way to recover is to look after yourself and stay happy and healthy, there's no drugs or therapies that can be given for it.

    Another is that it's hard for medical staff to acknowledge they just don't know much about the brain. Maybe there will be a full recovery, maybe not. Doctors don't like saying "I don't know".

    Another is that the world has limited resources and that will typically go on those who need it most, people with severe brain damage are going to get the attention compared to those like me with a mild brain injury where life is just a bit harder.

    About a year after getting a brain injury I did go back to my GP as headway told me to do, he sent me to the neurology department at Astley Ainslie in Edinburgh who sent me to a neuropsychologist who gave me a couple sessions of councilling therary and a couple doing cognitive tests which was very nice and reassuring (and probably expensive to give).

  • I agree with jriddell. It is because the brain is so complex and impossible to see without surgical intervention. The brain is the organ that the medical profession still know the least about. Their knowledge is still evolving. Medical practitioners make their decisions based on the psychological/behavioural and physical effects and these can be so variable. Perhaps a little more empathy and understanding towards the every day challenges would help.

  • Hi sospan,

    Thank you for your question.

    For our Action for Brain Injury Week awareness campaign this year we worked to raise awareness of brain injury among GPs. We developed information to help them to manage patients with a brain injury, telling them what specialists to refer people to and more about the effects that can be expected.

    You can access this information at

    We suggest that anyone who is having problems getting recognition from their GP passes this information on to them to help them understand.

    I hope this helps,

    Best wishes,


  • Its a really tricky one to get answered and I think that overall medical services have a long way to go. It starts with the need for accurate initial diagnosis, comprehensive testing over time to more fully understand the full extend of the ABI on all aspects of brain functioning, follwed up by provision of detailed and resourced long-term support services. The people who seem to be most vulnerable are those with a mild / moderate ABI as this will potentially cause life long challenges but who frequently fall between the cracks of a very patchy set of specialist ABI services within the UK. Headway are doing a great job in helping to move this forward, but there is a long way to go before all ABI survivors get the medical support they need.

  • My GP never had a clue about the needs of a TBI survivor; he was asking me questions about an ongoing malady and he asked me when it had rstarted. I replied that couldn't remember [which I couldn't] only to be told 'you must remember, its can't over a month ago at the best .....' When I said I couldn't he looked a little incredulous. Then I reminded him I had had a TBI adding, 'you don't know anything about BI survivors, do you?'

  • Ouch, sounds oh so familiar

  • THANKYOU Sospan for asking this, and THANKYOU Headway for your GP information web. I will be giving it to my GP next time i see him. My GP asked me why had i re-applied for the DLA i was receiving following my TBI, Of course i forgot about my TBI but remembered He was the one that told me i had Trauma to my spine!!! I think he remembers me and with a bit of luck i will remember to tell him i have a TBI the next time i see him. (he has been seeing me for 7 years now) Best Wishes

  • I think it is luck of the draw. I had one of these doctors who basically insulted me so I have left the surgery. Thankfully now my new Doctor is absolutely brilliant having already had experience with this kind of things. He had even visited the neuroscience hospital that I was treated at. So I think we need to "vote with our feet" and not put up with poor treatment from some GPs.

  • I can't complain about my GP's practice, after all it was them that spotted that I was more ill than just flu so was at the hospital when I went into a coma, and they are ok with me when I go back, just got a steroid spray to relieve my sinuses cos when they are blocked it affects my balance, not perfect but it does help xxx

  • Thanks Mick & Kirk, This level of service should be applauded from the GPs

  • My GP looked into my eyes with a torch and then sent me up the hospital. Hard to get there and the hospital sent me home. Then watching and waiting but it was two years before I could function properly and reduced capacities. By that time my Doctor had emigrated to Australia. Now my long term memory is improving, I am looking for a Doctor with more experience in head injuries as my memory won't come back.

  • Thanks. The A&E department have a somewhat strange approach, if you are walking and talking then your not in any danger and send you on your way. The problem being the lack of any follow up or referal

  • It wasn't A&E. GP arranged an appointment with a specialist, but he seemed to be busy. GP did what A&E would have done, but he was exceptionally good.

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