Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month
Written By: Augusta O.
September is national awareness month for traumatic brain injuries and I felt absolutely compelled to take on this topic for a number of personal reasons, but one of the most pressing I felt was that it’s somewhat misunderstood. The fact that a person suffering with a traumatic brain injury typically looks just like any other healthy individual, the scope of its affects seem to go unaddressed in some instances. It was very sobering learning many of the statistics of TBI, but also vindicating in confirming many symptoms that I already knew to be true in my life.
With that being said, let’s jump right into it…
What is it?
A traumatic brain injury, commonly known as a TBI, is the result of a blow, bump, jolt, or other head injury that causes damage to the brain.
What are the effects?
Traumatic brain injuries are commonly classified in order of severity as mild or severe.
Mild: A brain injury typically is classified as mild if confusion, disorientation, or loss of consciousness is less than 30 minutes.
- Migraine Headaches
- Difficulty thinking (often referred to as “fogginess” or “haziness”)
- Memory problems
- Decreased Attention
Severe: A severe brain injury is commonly associated with loss of consciousness greater than 30 minutes and/ or a penetrating cranial injury lasting greater than a 24 hour period.
- Loss of cognitive function ranging from high level cognitive function to a comatose state
- Limited upper and lower extremity function
- Abnormal speech
- Severe communication skill deficits
By the numbers
- Deaths resulting from a traumatic brain injury annually: 50,000
- Hospitalizations: 235,000
- Emergency room visits: 1.1 million
- Americans that experience traumatic brain injury annually: 1.4 million
- Americans currently living with traumatic brain injury: 5.3 million
Major causes by percentage
Falls – 28%
Motor vehicle accidents – 20%
Struck by or against an object – 19%
Violence – 11%
Severity of injury
Approximately 75% of traumatic brain injuries seen in the emergency departments are mild cases.
Annually 70,000 people who have a traumatic brain injury experience permanent damage.
For the year 2,000, it was estimated that medical cost and loss of wages due to a traumatic brain injury surpassed $60 billion in the United States.
Although these statistics paint a pretty bleak picture, no mathematics of a disability can ever account for the motivation provided by a devoted spouse, or the outpouring of support from a loving community. I know firsthand the hopelessness, and overwhelming feelings of pain and haze that accompany being a TBI survivor. I too also know the encouragement that is waiting for you in your own personal world, once you make it through the fog.