March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month
According to Susan H. Connors, Brain Injury Association of America President/CEO, “Brain Injury Awareness Month honors the millions of survivors, who with proper acute care, therapeutic rehabilitation and adequate long-term supports, are living with brain injury every day.”
What is a traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from “mild” (a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury). A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent function.
How many people have TBI?
Of the 1.4 million who sustain a TBI each year in the United States,
- 50,000 die
- 235,000 are hospitalized
- 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency room.
What causes TBI?
The leading causes of TBI are falls, motor vehicle-traffic crashes, being struck by an object, and assault. Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.
What are the costs of TBI?
Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000.
What are the long-term consequences of TBI?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI. According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI needed help for…
- Improving memory and problem solving
- Managing stress and emotional upsets
- Controlling one's temper
- Improving one's job skills
TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.
What help is available for people with brain injuries?
Ask your doctor whether specialized treatment and rehabilitation programs are available. Your doctor may be able to help you find a health care provider who has special training in the treatment of concussion. Early treatment of symptoms by professionals who specialize in brain injury may speed recovery. Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist, neuropsychologist, neurosurgeon, or specialist in rehabilitation.
Is there help for families and caregivers?
Said the spouse of one TBI patient, “My husband used to be so calm. But after his injury, he started to explode over the littlest things. He didn’t even know that he had changed.” When someone close to you has a brain injury, it can be hard to know how best to help. They may say that they are “fine” but you can tell from how they are acting that something has changed. If you notice that your family member or friend has symptoms of brain injury that are getting worse or are not getting better, talk to them and their doctor about getting help. You don't have to do it alone!
Resources for Getting Help
Several groups help people with brain injury and their families. They provide information and put people in touch with local resources, such as support groups, rehabilitation services, and a variety of health care professionals.
Among these groups, the Brain Injury Association (BIA) has a national office that gathers scientific and educational information and works on a national level to help people with brain injury. In addition, 44 affiliated state Brain Injury Associations provide help locally.
You can reach the BIA office by calling the toll-free BIA National Help Line at 1-800-444-6443. You can also get information through the national BIA Website. Both the Help Line and the Website can provide you with information about your closest state Brain Injury Association. More information about brain injury is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website.
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