While March is Brain Injury Awareness Month in the US, June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada, so we figure it’s still a good time to talk the importance of protecting your brain, and staying safe! After all, you’re not you without your brain, so any time is really a good time, right?
In the United States, 2.5 million children and adults sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, and nearly 800,000 more experience an acquired brain injury of non-traumatic causes. [1
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a range of mild-to-severe injuries sustained by a blow to the head or body, or a direct injury to the brain via puncture of the skull [2
]. The brain does not heal like other parts of the body, and unlike an injury to other parts of the body, a brain injury can affect a person’s personality permanently. Symptoms may occur right away or they may not appear for a few weeks [2
] As well, because of the nature of brain injury, people do not always realize they have sustained a brain injury. [2
What is an Acquired Brain Injury?
An acquired brain injury is one that takes place after birth, and may be caused by vascular (blood vessel) problems, lack of oxygen to the brain (anoxia), brain tumor or tumor removal, or brain infection. [4
] Drug or alcohol use (such as an overdose) may cause an acquired brain injury. [4
There may be overlap between traumatic brain injury and acquired brain injury in some cases.
How are brain injuries treated?
Brain Injury recovery is different for each person, and is known as “functional recovery”, as skills and abilities from prior to the injury are regained. [2
] Physical, occupational, speech, and psychotherapy, among other treatments, may be required to help a person rehabilitate from a brain injury. Not all people heal fully from brain injury, or may have some lasting effects.
How can brain injuries be prevented?
Acquired brain injuries in many cases are not preventable. Some, but not all traumatic brain injuries, may be prevented with adequate safety precautions. Helmets should be worn for sports that require them, including cycling, football, hockey, horseback riding, skateboarding and scootering, rollerblading, ATV or dirt bike riding, wrestling, and when batting in softball or baseball. [5
] Ensuring clothing is appropriate for activities, wearing a seatbelt, making sure vision is unobstructed during sports and other activities, and storing firearms unloaded at all times, are also important steps to take to prevent an accidental brain injury. [5
] Supervising children during all activities, and ensuring adequate precautions are taken during water activities—including not running on slippery pool decks, and not diving into above ground pools or any pool or body of water less than 12 feet deep, can also prevent brain injury. [5
If you have either an acquired or traumatic brain injury it is important to wear a brain injury medical ID
with details of your condition, so that it is accurately identified in an emergency and your symptoms are addressed properly and not mistaken for another condition..