SAN DIEGO, February 27, 2018– March 1st marks the beginning of Brain Injury Awareness Month, bringing awareness of special needs and issues for those who are stricken, and the impact on those who are sharing their journey.
Approximately 1.4 million Americans suffer from a traumatic brain injury each year, representing 50,000 deaths, 235,000 hospitalizations, and 1.1 million emergency room visits according to the CDC.
Members of our military included in these staggering statistics having sustained over 339,462 traumatic brain injuries since the year 2000.
Most Americans would tend to believe that traumatic brain injuries are primarily caused by the result of combat.
They are wrong:
Most traumatic head injuries occur in non-military settings.
Extremely active and fast-paced in their day-to-day lives, many enjoy participation in contact and other sports such as football, boxing and a variety of motorsports, providing more opportunities for brain injuries from collisions, and crashes.
Traumatic brain injuries might also result with the accidental or intentional discharge of firearms or other weapons, occurring on or off duty.
Males are at greatest risk for traumatic brain injuries and have a greater propensity for sustaining falls, participation in violent activities, vehicular collisions, activities involving heights and involvement with combat-related explosive blasts.
The good news is that, according to Defense Medical Surveillance System, approximately 85% of all military-related traumatic brain injuries would be considered mild in nature, resulting in quicker recovery and ability to return to duty relatively soon.
Brain Injury Awareness
Sustaining a traumatic brain injury creates a variety of symptoms, with severity depending upon its cause and its location on the body, which include the following:
- Memory loss
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
Moreover, personality changes and mood swings, whether short-term or prolonged, could also result from sustaining a
traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury is also one of several causes of post-traumatic stress syndrome and is due to the chemical, neurological, cellular and/or blood flow impairment.
Each traumatic brain injury is an entirely individual experience and it is therefore critical to seek treatment and support from a specialized health care professional to diagnose and treat the injury.
Common diagnostic methods include CT Scan and MRI.
The Glasgow Coma Scale is an assessment tool that helps trained healthcare professionals assess 15 different functional activities. These include response to directions, bodily movements, speech coherency and more which helps to
classify whether a traumatic brain injury is mild (13-15 points), moderate (9-12 points), severe (3-8 points), vegetative (less than 3 points).
Treatment plans for the various injury levels would vary may include rest, psychological therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, prescribed medication, avoiding strenuous exercises, significantly reducing life and work stresses, and possibly not driving a vehicle.
Though mild injuries progress quickly, other traumatic brain injuries may take weeks, months or even years for full recovery, significantly altering one’s life.
The amazing brain
The good news is that the brain has the ability to regenerate itself, with improvements sometimes occurring from 6 months up to 2 years following injury.
In some cases, endogenous regeneration might occur, as new blood vessels and neurons begin to regenerate or renew.
With the brain constituting approximately 60% omega 3’s consuming algae, sardines, salmon, walnuts, flax and other sources of DHA could possibly help in the repair process.
With more severe traumatic brain injuries, existing life could completely change, being forced into reinventing an entirely new lifestyle full of new choices and activities while also setting the stage for life-long rehabilitation.
Traumatic brain injuries impact family members, friends, and workplace colleagues, all of whom find ways to adjust to the changing dynamics, needs, and abilities of one they value and hold dear.
Avoiding Brain Injury
Avoiding experiencing a traumatic brain injury is a very good idea for not only members of our military but for all Americans.
Practicing safety when driving a car, riding a bicycle, walking down the street, not consuming alcohol while driving, disengaging from cell phone activity and more could help to reduce the incidences of traumatic brain injuries not only for oneself but also for others.
For further information about traumatic brain injuries for members of the military go to:
Department of Veteran Affairs Crisis Line (800)273-8255, press 1, or visit the Department of Defense online.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!