March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a critical time when we can all help to raise awareness about this important public health problem. Please scroll down to read the entire page and then visit the Center for Diseases Control (CDC)’s Brian Injury website.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a debilitating and often degenerative condition. People that have suffered TBI often appear normal outwardly while they are facing tremendous turmoil, and mental and physical challenges due to the effects of TBI.
New Frontier: Neuroscience or brain science and brain function is still very much a new frontier. Doctors and scientists are still learning and making new discoveries about the human brain and how it functions. Researchers at Allen Institute for Brain Science, Brain Injury Research Institute (BIRI), Stanford University, John Hopkins University, and other universities and research institutions are working hard to map the human brain so they can more thoroughly understand how the human brain functions.
Research undertaken by Dr. Bennet Omalu, the renowned neurology forensic pathologist, led to diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) arising from excessive levels of tau protein in the brains of NFL players that had sustained multiple concussions. This discovery led to a US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing in February 2010; and literally forced the NFL to change its policy and protocol on assessment of concussions and the return of football players to play following concussions, and compensation of players that had suffered multiple concussions and TBI.
Dr. Omalu, now the pathologist for San Joaquin County, CA, and Dr. Julian Bailes, the chairman of the neurosurgery department at West Virginia University and a leading concussion researcher. co-founded the Brain Injury Research Institute (BIRI), and have published the results of the examination of the autopsy of the brain tissues of fourteen professional athletes and three high school football players after unexpected deaths in the February 2011 edition of Neurosurgery. Dr. Omalu is also collaborating with neurologist Dr. Daniel Amen on further study and treatment of NFL players.
Recent research on TBI has also led the CDC to focus more attention on TBI. CDC now provides information on TBI through its website. CDC has also developed guidelines for medical practitioners; coaches, athletes, and parents; and school administrators, teachers and nurses on proper handling of concussion and TBI cases.
If you know someone that has suffered a traumatic brain injury, please reach out to support and help them by sharing this blog and information with them. Don’t assume that you have all the answers because even top scientists and doctors are still learning.The best gift that you can give a person suffering from TBI is compassion and understanding.
Also, you can help by sharing this blog with your doctor, your children’s school teachers, nurses and administrators, and friends and family members. You will never know when TBI may impact you or someone close to you.
Learn TBI Signs, Symptoms and How to Respond
Bringing Attention to Brain Injury:
Have you ever hit your head as a result of a fall, a car crash, or other type of activity that left you feeling “just not right” afterwards? After a few days you returned to your normal activities, however, you kept getting a headache, were sensitive to noise, and had more trouble than usual concentrating or remembering things. Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be one of the millions of people who sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year.
This March, in recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month, CDC and our partners are working together to spread the word and raise awareness about TBI prevention, recognition, and response to help address this important public health problem.
CDC estimates that 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI, including concussions, each year. Of those individuals, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and 1.4 million are treated and released from an emergency department.
Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This sudden movement can literally cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, damaging brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.
Learning the Signs and Symptoms:
Most people with a TBI recover quickly and fully. But for some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer. And in severe cases, a TBI can lead to coma and even death. In general, recovery may be slower among older adults, young children, and teens. Those who have had a TBI in the past are also at risk of having another one and may find that it takes longer to recover if they have another TBI.
Symptoms of TBI usually fall into four categories:
|Difficulty thinking clearly||Headache
Fuzzy or blurry vision
|Irritability||Sleeping more than usual|
|Feeling slowed down||Nausea or vomiting
|Sadness||Sleep less than usual|
|Difficulty concentrating||Sensitivity to noise or light
|More emotional||Trouble falling asleep|
|Difficulty remembering new information||Feeling tired, having no energy||Nervousness or anxiety|
Some of these symptoms may appear right away, while others may not be noticed for days or months after the injury, or until the person starts resuming their everyday life and more demands are placed upon them.
See When to Seek Immediate Medical Attention, to learn about dangers signs to watch for in adults and children.
People with a TBI need to be seen by a health care professional. If you think you or someone you know has a TBI, contact your health care professional. Your health care professional can refer you to a neurologist, neuropsychologist, neurosurgeon, or specialist in rehabilitation (such as a speech pathologist). Getting help soon after the injury by trained specialists may speed recovery.
Rest is very important after a TBI because it helps the brain to heal. Ignoring your symptoms and trying to “tough it out” often makes symptoms worse. Be patient because healing takes time. Only when your symptoms have reduced significantly, in consultation with your health care professional, should you slowly and gradually return to your daily activities, such as work or school. If your symptoms come back or you get new symptoms as you become more active, this is a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard. Stop these activities and take more time to rest and recover. As the days go by, you can expect to gradually feel better.
See Getting Better, for tips to help aid recovery from a TBI.
Several groups help people and their families deal with concussion and more serious TBIs. They provide information and put people in touch with local resources, such as support groups, rehabilitation services, and a variety of health care professionals.
See Finding Support for more information, including contacting support groups in your area.
Learn more information about TBI in the military, including an interactive website for service members, veterans, and families and caregivers.
The annual celebration of National Public Health Week is scheduled for April 4-10, 2011. This year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) will continue its broad vision to make America the healthiest nation in one generation by raising awareness of the importance of preventing violence and injuries, such as TBI, through the theme Safety is No Accident: Live Injury-free.
Research and data are critical to understand traumatic brain injury as an important public health problem. CDC collects and reports TBI data to help inform prevention strategies, identify research and education priorities, and support the need for services among those living with a TBI.
Helping Spread the Word:
To help improve prevention, recognition, and response to TBI, including concussions, CDC developed the “Heads Up” educational initiatives to offer information to health care professionals, school professionals, sports coaches, parents, athletes, and others.
See “Heads Up” educational initiatives to download or order the “Heads Up” resources and to learn how you can get involved.
- There is Help for Battered Athletes and TBI patients! (brainhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- House Hearing on TBI (theconcussionblog.com)
- The Brain’s Neuronal Circuit Excitability May Be Altered By Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, Lead To Brain Network Dysfunction (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Mild Traumatic Brain Injury May Contribute to Brain Network Dysfunction (sott.net)