Every March, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) joins with organizations and individuals across the country to raise awareness about brain injuries and brain injury recovery. The theme of this year’s Brain Injury Awareness Month (BIAM) is “Not Alone.”
Brain Injury Awareness Month
The BIAA hopes to achieve several goals with this year’s BIAM. One is to educate the public about brain injury facts, and another is to help others understand the plight of families caring for a loved one who has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Others objectives include destigmatizing brain injuries, empowering survivors, and highlighting the many support resources available.
In honor of BIAM, here’s a closer look at the facts surrounding brain injuries.
Brain Injury Statistics
Traumatic brain injury is a major health issue in America. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, “2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were associated with TBI…in the United States.” That year, over 50,000 people died from TBIs. Between 2001 and 2009, ED visits for TBI increased by 70 percent.
According to the CDC, the leading causes of TBI are:
- Falls (40.5 percent)
- Struck or struck-by type accidents (15.5 percent)
- Motor vehicle accidents (14.3 percent)
- Assaults (10.7 percent)
- Unknown or other (19 percent)
With falls listed as the leading cause of traumatic brain injury, seniors with a history of falling should be carefully monitored.
Brain Injury Recovery
There is plenty of reason to maintain hope in the face of a TBI. For example, the CDC reports that while the number of ED visits have increased between 2001–2009, hospitalization rates increased a mere 11 percent and deaths actually decreased by 7 percent.
The question many ask is whether brain injury recovery is possible and how long will it take. According to Dr. Glen Johnson, a clinical neuropsychologist in Traverse City Michigan, the answer from doctors is often “I don’t know.” What’s important is knowing that it can be possible for people to recover some or all of the faculties damaged by a TBI — and that, with careful prevention, you can help protect yourself against them altogether.
Fall Prevention in the Face of TBI
An important message of Brain Injury Awareness Month is prevention. If you are — or somebody you love is — a senior with a high risk of falling or especially who has had a fall or TBI, prevent a recurrence by making your environment safer. Some preventive measures you can take include:
- Providing adequate lighting
- Picking up tripping hazards like clutter, throw rugs and power cords
- Having your vision routinely checked
- Talking to your pharmacist or physician about medications that increase fall risk
- Making commonly used items easily accessible
- Not going barefoot or in only socks and wearing good shoes that fit your feet well
- Installing rails on steps and grab bars in bathrooms
Undergoing brain injury recovery is challenging — but remember, you aren’t alone. By taking preventative steps and learning the facts, you can help make BIAM a success in your life and the lives of others.