March Is Brain Injury Awareness Month

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has designated Brain Injury Awareness Month this March.

According to the BIAA, a brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. A brain injury does not discriminate. In fact, 1.7 million Americans sustain a brain injury each year.

Recently, brain injuries have received significant publicity due to the efforts of those in the professional sports community, such as the National Football League (NFL), to highlight the extent of brain trauma, and the lasting damage it causes. However, brain injuries are not restricted to those in high-risk activities such as professional sports.

According to Dr. Fawad Mian, an expert in brain disorders, “Anyone no matter the gender or age can sustain a brain injury or be stricken by a condition involving the brain. Immediate, expert care is crucial, as is educating the public on the risks and signs of brain injury.”

Here is some useful information on brain injury from BIAA:

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A traumatic brain injury is defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force.

Typical Causes of TBI

  • Falls
  • Assault
  • Motor Vehicle-Traffic
  • Struck by/Against
  • Sports Injury

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth.

Typical Causes of ABI

  • Stroke
  • Substance Abuse
  • Near Drowning
  • Infectious Disease
  • Seizure Disorders
  • Tumor
  • Electric Shock
  • Toxic Exposure
  • Lightning Strike
  • Oxygen Deprivation (Hypoxia/Anoxia)

Symptoms of Brain Injury

  • Physical Impairments- speech, vision, hearing, headaches, motor coordination, spasticity of muscles, paresis or paralysis, seizure disorders, balance, and fatigue.
  • Cognitive Impairments- short-term memory deficits, impaired concentration, slowness of thinking, limited attention span, impairments of perception, communication skills, planning, writing, reading, and judgment.
  • Emotional Impairments- mood swings, self-centeredness, anxiety, depression, lowered self-esteem, sexual dysfunction, restlessness, lack of motivation, and difficulty controlling emotions.

Tips to Aid Recovery

  • If you suspect a head injury, first go to a physician for an exam.
  • Get lots of rest. Don’t rush back to daily activities such as work or school.
  • Avoid doing anything that could cause another blow or jolt to the head.
  • Ask your doctor when it’s safe to drive a car, ride a bike, or use heavy equipment because your ability to react may be slower after a brain injury.
  • Take only the medications your doctor has approved, and don’t drink alcohol until your doctor says it’s OK.
  • Write things down if you have a hard time remembering.
  • You may need help to re-learn skills that were lost. Contact the Brain Injury Association in your state to learn more about the programs, supports, and services available to people with brain injury and their families.
  • Visit www.biausa.org for resources and support.

 

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