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Brain Injury Law Group

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
212 Whitetail Run Ln.
Sheboygan, WI


Executive Deficits – Goal Setting

By Attorney Gordon Johnson
Call me at 800-992-9447

Without a goal, there can be no plan to achieve that goal. So the first place that higher brain functions break down is in goal setting. Yet, such deficits after brain injury are more subtle than other deficits, which is one reason they are harder to test for. (There is no neuropsychological answer to: What do you want to be when you grow big?)

Our TBI Voices initiative has involved the detailed video interview of 30 people, the vast majority of whom had goals. Yet, there is a distinction between having goals and having reasonable/achievable goals. Many of our participants could be placed in the latter. One of our most recent interviewees, Zach, is an example.

Zach was a promising high school athlete when he suffered a severe TBI. While his recovery is self-proclaimed to be a “miracle”, there persist many areas where his capacities are undeniably changed from his pre-morbid self. None is more obvious than his ability to play baseball.

Pre-injury, he had aspirations of playing college baseball, post-injury he had double vision. Yet for a couple of years post-injury, he pursued his dream of playing college baseball, even though he was seeing two baseballs. While today he has insight that double vision is a disabling condition for a baseball player, it is not in the more subtle task where a 70% failure rate is tolerated – hitting a baseball - that he sees the deficit. When he discusses why he can’t play baseball anymore, it is in catching the ball, where a 99% success rate is expected, that he recognizes his inability to play:

Were you able to play at all in practice?

Oh, I still participated in practice. I would try to catch fly balls but my depth perception's off so when I look up, I see two balls and I don't know where it's going to go.

I didn't tell you - I had double vision, too.

Did you have the double vision right away?

Yeah, right away. And it was really bad. I had objects on both sides, I would be looking over here and over there.

Why did they let you play baseball when you were seeing two baseballs?

Because I wanted to. And they weren't going to tell me I couldn't.

What happened in the diagnosis/treatment that they let you continue to play, with something that can cause another head injury?

We thought it would correct itself because a lot of times it does. So we were waiting and waiting. We would rather it correct itself. It never did. I played legion ball my last year and I couldn't because I saw two of everything.

Did you play baseball at UMass?

I didn't. My first year, first couple days, I wasn't ready to play. I couldn't play. I was like coach I can't do anything. And he was like well you could be the manager, like I'm assistant coach type of thing. I went oh, that's cool.

So I tried it out. Between classes, my brain must have been swollen like. I just had a constant headache, had to take a nap. I just couldn't do it. So I went to him – “I can't do it.” And then I'm like “you will see me on the field sometime.”

You know, never happened.




Contact Attorney Gordon Johnson: 1-800-992-9447

This site is brought to you by the advocates of the Brain Injury Law Group, a community of plaintiff's trial lawyers across the United States united by a common interest in serving the rights of persons with traumatic brain injuries and a common commitment to fully understanding the anatomic, medical and psychological aspects of TBI.

Brain Injury Law Group

Call Attorney Gordon Johnson — 800-992-9447

The Brain Injury Law Group is involved with a network of plaintiff's trial attorneys across the United States united by a common interest in serving the rights of persons with brain damage and neurological damage related disability. We share a common commitment to fully understanding the anatomic, medical and psychological aspects of cerebral palsy and other brain damage and neurological damage related disability. This network of lawyers are not part of a national law firm. We have separate law practices and are licensed to practice only in our home states.

The Brain Injury Law Group is here to listen and for that reason we maintain an 800 number and a staff willing to discuss your case and legal information where appropriate. There is no charge to call. We only represent people on a contingent fee basis and charge a fee only when we recover for the client. For more on Attorney Gordon Johnson, click here.


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