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Brain Injury Awareness Month: Protecting Brain Health

Springing into March, it's time to observe Brain Injury Awareness Month. This time is not just about recognizing those courageously dealing with brain injuries but also about nurturing empathy and understanding within us all. 

Life can be challenging for survivors, but this month underscores a comforting message - they're not alone in this journey. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: March - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of Brain Injury Awareness Month

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Starting back in 1985, there was a newfound urgency to educate folks about the realities of brain injuries. This led the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) to kick off Brain Injury Awareness Month every March to raise awareness and advocate for those grappling with its aftermath. 

With the turning of the calendar to 2005, an important chapter unfolded in this noble mission. The U.S. Congress granted it official recognition and, in doing so, broadened the accent from traumatic brain injuries to embrace all forms of brain injuries. It acted as a significant affirmation of the work started two decades ago.

Progressing to 2008, BIAA's mission took a powerful turn with the unveiling of the "Change Your Mind" campaign. Giving a stronger voice to brain injury survivors, the campaign focused on breaking down the barriers of stigma they often face, meanwhile providing them with the empowering tool of support networks. 

Fast forward to 2023, the awareness month comes with a stirring message - “More Than My Brain Injury.” This strong theme stands as a testament to the fact that brain injury survivors are not defined solely by their challenges; they are indeed much more.

The Cause and Its Challenges

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Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) typically result from an external force hitting the head during car crashes, falls, sports mishaps, and violent incidents. 

Anyone can suffer from TBIs, but older adults are at a higher risk. Hospitalization rates are high among people 75 years or older2, and half of the time, it is due to a fall.

Other demographics that are particularly susceptible include ethnic minorities, service members, veterans, homeless individuals, detainees, survivors of intimate partner violence, and rural inhabitants. Each of these groups faces heightened risks of TBI-related deaths and long-term health struggles.

Sometimes, people sustain an acquired brain injury (ABI), which results from diseases and accidents like electric shock, seizures, and substance overdose, among others. For example, strokes, tumors, and infectious diseases are some non-traumatic culprits of brain damage.

In 2010, the CDC reported that an estimated 2.8 million people with TBI visited emergency rooms. Brain injuries are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States1.

Survivors of TBIs face physical impairments and hidden cognitive dysfunctions. For example, tasks once second nature - remembering phone numbers, tracking appointments, even focusing on conversations - can suddenly seem impossible. These changes can strain relationships and induce feelings of isolation. 

From a societal and economic perspective, TBIs result in significant direct and indirect costs—the loss of productivity costs over $76.5 billion annually.

Efforts and Initiatives

Organizations like the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) are actively raising awareness of brain injuries through the month-long event. Moreover, they are also active in researching and providing support to patients and families. 

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has introduced an initiative called “Heads Up.”It educates people on preventing, recognizing, and responding to concussions and other serious brain injuries.

Local communities have also organized events like "Going the Distance for Brain Injury Run” and “Walk for Thought.”

How to Get Involved and Support Brain Injury Awareness Month

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Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash.
  1. Join sponsored runs, walks, and sports events to raise funds for brain injury survivors. These events allow those affected by brain injuries to unite and foster a sense of unity and shared understanding. 
  2. Gain knowledge on preventing brain-related accidents. Ensure safety measures on activities that are prone to head injuries.
  3. Wear blue, the official color of brain injury awareness, to show solidarity.
  4. Reach out to brain injury survivors in your community to offer support and encouragement.
  5. Use social media to share facts and stories to help the cause spread the message.

Conclusion

Brain Injury Awareness Month aims to spread awareness about the after-effects of brain injuries and tackle widespread misunderstandings surrounding the issue. The initiative calls for collective action from everyone to transform awareness into tangible action. By working together, we can make a difference.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Brain Injury Awareness Month?

This annual event aims to raise awareness about brain injuries' causes, effects, and prevention.

2. What are the common causes of brain injuries?

Common causes of brain injuries include falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and violence-related incidents.

3. What are the symptoms of traumatic brain injury?

Symptoms depend on the severity, but they may include headache, dizziness, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and changes in mood or behavior.

4. How can we prevent brain injuries?

Prevent head injury by wearing protective gear during sports activities, using seatbelts and child safety seats in vehicles, practicing workplace safety measures, and removing tripping hazards at home.

5. How can I support the occasion?

You can share information and resources on social media, join local awareness events, support organizations providing support and resources for brain injury survivors, and educate others about the importance of prevention and support.

1

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Report to Congress on Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Epidemiology and Rehabilitation. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention. Atlanta, GA.

2

Thompson, H. J., McCormick, W. C., & Kagan, S. H. (2006). Traumatic Brain injury in Older Adults: Epidemiology, outcomes, and future implications. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 54(10), 1590–1595.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash.
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