This week marks the start of Brain Injury Awareness Month in the United States.
Brain injury has reached epidemic proportions in this country.
So, let’s review some of the statistics surrounding brain injury.
Almost a half a million emergency department visits for traumatic brain injury are made each year for children between the ages of birth to 14.
Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death for Americans under 44.
On average 1 American will suffer a brain injury every 9 seconds.
And in 1999, the CDC estimated 5.3 million Americans were living with a long-term disability caused by a brain injury.
But because this statistic only measured disabilities for individuals who were originally classified with moderate or severe brain injury and were hospitalized, it fails to account for the millions of other persons living with brain injury disability who never sort hospital treatment or who were classified with what is known as “mild” brain injury.
Not every victim of a brain injury seeks hospital care. Many seek care in an urgent care center, in a physician’s office, and unfortunately many more never obtain medical care. And let me make it clear, there is nothing “mild” about a mild brain injury.
The classification used is based upon a scale known as the Glasgow Coma Scale, a scale intended to classify acute brain injuries so emergency medical personal and emergency department personnel could triage individuals when they arrived at the hospital.
It was never intended as a scale to project long term consequences and long-term disability, and unfortunately this scale is being misused with tragic consequences.
Mild does not mean inconsequential. And mild does not mean these individuals cannot suffer from long term effects.
Either you are fully recovered or you’re not!
The scale has unfortunately been misused.
Why do I say this, because we know that over 50 percent of those who sustained a concussion or what this scale classifies as a “mild tbi” have not fully recovered after one year, and over 15 percent of these individuals go on to suffer life-long impairments.
We know that brain injury is a chronic condition that can affect all aspects of a person’s life. We know that a brain injury can affect a person’s behavior and emotions and can have a wide range of physical consequences. Brain injury is a frequent cause of seizure disorders, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, stroke, and dementia.
We also know that a brain injury is not static but evolves over time .
And we also know that for certain segments of our population, brain injury is often over-looked.
A perfect example are victims of domestic violence. One out of 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence sometime during their lives. And 90 percent of these women will have sustained head trauma. Trauma ranging from having their head bashed against a wall, to being slapped or struck in the head, or being shaken violently. Others may sustain oxygen deprivation.
The homeless population and the prison population are also overlooked groups where brain injury is prevalent.
And let us not forget those who sustain repetitive head trauma while engaged in sporting activities, and the elderly population, where falls and brain injury are all too common.
Brain Injury, Anytime, Anyone, Anyplace, a slogan originated by the Brain Injury Association of America is something to keep in mind.
So as a nation, we need to confront brain injury and resulting brain damage.
We need to raise awareness of this silent epidemic and we need to de-stigmatize this injury. We need empower brain injury survivors; provide support and services for these individuals; compel insurance carriers to provide benefits for this condition, and not treat it as a broken bone; and we need to hold wrongdoers accountable for the human losses and harms they cause.
You can read more and view some of our videos designed to raise awareness of brain injury and effect on the individual, on spouses, and on parents at our website at https://brainlaw.com/tbi-facts/
So, this month, Brain Injury Awareness Month, and all year long, lets support the efforts of the Brain Injury Association of America, in promoting brain injury awareness, brain injury research, and brain injury rehabilitation. And let’s participate in the global conversation on social media using the hashtag #NotAloneInBrainInjury.
Thank you for joining me this week and I look forward to speaking with you again next week on another edition of the Brain Injury Insider.