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.
May is also Brain Tumor Awareness Month
Along with stroke awareness month, May is also Brain tumor awareness month. Although most people have heard of Brain tumors, few know how widespread this incurable disease is. According to the National brain tumor society:
- An estimated 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor
- 80% tumors are benign
- 20% tumors are malignant
- An estimated 78,980 people will receive primary brain tumor diagnoses in 2018
- 55,1500 will be benign
- 23,830 will be malignant
- The average survival rate for all malignant brain tumor patients is only 34.7%
- Male: 33.8%
- For the most common form of primary malignant brain tumors, glioblastoma multiforme, the five-year relative survival rate is only 5.5%
- An estimated 16,616 people will die from malignant brain tumors (brain cancer) in 2018
- The most prevalent brain tumor types in adults:
- Meningiomas, which make-up 36.6% of all primary brain tumors
Gliomas (such as glioblastoma, ependymomas, astrocytomas, and oligodendrogliomas), which make-up 74.6% of malignant brain tumors
Unfortunately, more than any other cancer, brain tumors can have lasting and life-altering physical, cognitive, and psychological impacts on a patient’s life.
This means malignant brain tumors can often be described as equal parts neurological disease and deadly cancer.
It has been my experience that saying your tumor is benign gives people the impression that it is curable and isn’t a very serious situation, however this is not the case. Even benign brain tumors can be deadly if they interfere with portions of the brain responsible for vital bodily functions. It is also pretty safe to say that brain surgery is seldom benign.
There are more than 130 different types of brain tumors, many with their own multitude of subtypes. The table below shows the types of tumors that a few of our members have been diagnosed with :
|Name||Tumor type||Age at diagnosis||Initial symptoms|
|Jeff||Astrocytoma||20||Found while undergoing unrelated medical testing|
|Rick||Central neurocytoma||35||Uncontrollable, severe headache|
In my obviously biased opinion, research into this disease and possible cures is grossly underfunded and ineffective. Data collected by Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS) in CBTRUS Statistical Facts Report of Primary Brain and Other Central Nervous System Tumors Diagnosed in the United States in 2010 – 2014 suggest:
- Despite the amount of brain tumors, and their devastating prognosis, there have only been four (4) FDA approved drugs – and one device – to treat brain tumors in the past 30 years.
- For many tumor types, surgery and radiation remain the standard of care.
- There has never been a drug developed and approved specifically for malignant pediatric brain tumors.
- The four approved drugs for brain tumors have provided only incremental improvements to patient survival, and mortality rates remain little changed over the past 30 years.
- Between 1998 and 2014, there were 78 investigational brain tumor drugs that entered the clinical trial evaluation process. 75 failed. That is a 25:1 failure ratio in developing new brain tumor treatments over the past two decades.
It is often difficult to talk about such a hard topic, but always remember statistics don’t paint the whole picture. Brain tumor warriors are usually the bravest, toughest fighters you will ever meet. This is why we should all “Go Gray in May” to spread the word and get a spotlight aimed at this disease so that we can give hope to and encourage those living with or affected by brain tumors. NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE!
~Jenny, BIND Member
May = STROKE AWARNESS MONTH!
So it sounds like a bad joke (it is and it’s not) but I heard it again this morning watching reruns of my favorite show Supernatural.
Person 1:“Do you smell burnt Toast?”
Person 2:”Are you having a Stroke? “
Well I didn’t when I had mine, but I’ve heard this on other TV shows and other random places. So, I thought “LMGT”= Let Me Google That and this is what pops up:
And with that google search I got this:
“There’s a popular myth that smelling burnt toast is a sign of a brain tumor, or that you’re having a stroke,” he said. “This isn’t true. “A stroke can affect any area of your brain, so it’s possible that your sense of smell can be affected, but there’s no particular smell that you need to worry about.” Sep 26, 2016
There are 2 types of Stroke:
Ischemic stroke occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. It accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures. But the most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke is uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure).
Here is just a small break down of our members that have had strokes:
|Member||Age at time of Stroke||Type of Stroke|
Unfortunately not all Stroke signs are obvious, (I didn’t really have any and everybody’s are different) but you can tell if someone is having a stroke with this quick tool:
The American Stroke Association developed this easy-to-remember guide to help identify the signs of a stroke.
F – Face drooping. Is one side of the person’s face drooping or numb? When he or she smiles, is the smile uneven?
A – Arm weakness. Is the person experiencing weakness or numbness in one arm? Have the person raise both arms. Does one of the arms drift downward?
S – Speech difficulty. Is the person’s speech suddenly slurred or hard to understand? Is he or she unable to speak? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he or she repeat it back?
T – Time to call 9-1-1. If any of these symptoms are present, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Check the time so you can report when the symptoms began.
For facts and Information visit:
- Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women (in comparison, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for men). Each year 55,000 more women have a stroke than men.
- For Women: https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/docs/women_stroke_factsheet.pdf
- For Men: https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/docs/women_stroke_factsheet.pdf
Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke is the first step to ensuring medical help is received immediately. For each minute a stroke goes untreated and blood flow to the brain continues to be blocked, a person loses about 1.9 million neurons. This could mean that a person’s speech, movement, memory, and so much more can be affected.
Learn as many stroke symptoms as possible so you can recognize stroke FAST and save a life!
Stroke symptoms include:
|SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body|
|SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding|
|SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes|
|SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination|
|SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause|
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you observe any of these symptoms.
Note the time of the first symptom.
This information is important and can affect treatment decisions.
In honor of our Veterans, the Outreach & Advocacy Unit at BIND compiled a list of our area’s best deals and discounts. Enjoy!
|Nov. 7th- 11th||Texas de Brazil||50% off of Dinner + 1, rest of Table receives 20% off.|
|Nov. 7th- 11th||IKEA||Free Entrée’|
|Nov. 9th-11th||Red Hot & Blue||Free Entrée with the purchase of a second entrée|
|Nov. 10th-11th||Bed, Bath, & Beyond||25% off entrée purchase|
|Nov. 10th-11th||World Market||25% off entire purchase in stores|
|Nov. 10th-11th||BJ’s Resturant & Brewhouse||Complimentary entrée up to $12.95|
|Nov. 10th-11th||Red Lobster||Free Appetizer or Dessert from a limited menu|
|Nov. 11th||Carmike Cinemas||Free small Popcorn w/ ticket purchase|
|Nov. 11th||Main Event||Bowl for Free from open to 3pm.|
|Nov. 11th||Great Clips||Free Haircut or Haircut Card good until Dec. 31st.|
|Nov. 11th||Sport Clips||Free Haircut|
|Nov. 11th||Dollar General||11% discount on Qualified purchases|
|Nov. 11th||Meineke||Free Oil Change|
|Nov. 11th||Tractor Supply||15% discount on in store purchases|
|Nov. 11th||Applebee’s||Free Meal from a limited menu|
|Nov. 11th||CiCi’s Pizza||Free Pizza Buffet|
|Nov. 11th||Cotton Patch Café||Free Chicken Fried Steak or Chicken Fried Chicken|
|Nov. 11th||Boston Market||Free Brownie or Cookie|
|Nov. 11th||Buffalo Wild Wings||One small order of wings and side of fries|
|Nov. 11th||California Pizza Kitchen||Complimentary entrée from special menu|
|Nov. 11th||Cantina Laredo||Complimentary meal up to $15|
|Nov. 11th||On the Border||Free combo meal|
|Nov. 11th||Texas Roadhouse||Free Lunch from 11-2|
|Nov.11th||Cattlemen’s||Complimentary 8oz. Sirlon Steak Dinner|
|Nov. 11th||Chili’s||Free Meal from a limited menu|
|Nov. 11th||Chipotle||BOGO deal from 3-Close|
|Nov. 11th||Chuck E. Cheese||Free Individual 1 topping pizza|
|Nov. 11th||Cracker Barrel||Complimentary Slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca Cola Cake|
|Nov. 11th||Denny’s||Free Build Your Own Grand Slam from 5-12|
|Nov. 11th||Dickey’s BBQ||Free Meal and a Big Yellow Cup|
|Nov. 11th||El Fenix||Free Meal from a select menu|
|Nov. 11th||Furr’s Buffet||Free Buffet and drink|
|Nov. 11th||Hooter’s||Free Meal from Select menu|
|Nov. 11th||IHOP||Free Red, White, & Blue pancakes from 7-7|
|Nov. 11th||Johnny Carino’s||Free Meal|
|Nov. 11th||Krispy Kreme||Free Doughnut and Small coffee|
|Nov. 11th||Little Caesars Pizza||Free $5 Lunch combo from 11-2|
|Nov. 11th||Olive Garden||Free Entrée from Special Menu|
|Nov. 11th||Quaker Steak & Lube||Complimentary or discounted Meal of their choice|
|Nov. 11th||Red Robin||Free Red’s Tavern Double Burger w/ Bottomless Steak Fries|
|Nov. 11th||Rock & Brews||Complimentary Pulled Pork Sandwich|
|Nov. 11th||Ruby Tuesday||Free Appetizer|
|Nov. 11th||Snuffer’s Resturant & Bar||Free Burger|
|Nov. 11th||Starbucks||Vets and Spouces get a Free Tall Coffee|
|Nov. 11th||TGI Friday||Free Lunch from 11-2|
|Nov. 11th||Twin Peaks||Free Menu item from their Annual Veteran’s Day Apprecication Menu|
|Nov. 11th||World of Beer||Free Select Draught Beer|
|Nov. 11th||Outback Steakhouse||Free Bloomin Onion and Beverage|
|Nov. 11th-13th||Spaghetti Warehouse||Buy One Entrée and Get the Second Entrée Free|
|Nov. 11th-13th||Firestone Complete Auto Care||Additional 10% off the Lowest Ad Price|
|Nov. 12th- Dec. 31||Outback Steakhouse||15% off their Meals|
|Nov. 13th||Golden Coral||Free Dinner from 5-9|
The word “Aphasia” was introduced in my vocabulary as a Physical Therapy student at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1992. During my clinical experience taking care of and treating a vast number of patients with neurological conditions (cerebrovascular accidents commonly named “strokes”, brain tumors, traumatic brain injury), I found more insight 3 years ago transitioning from clinician to patient. On May 13, 2014, I had an ischemic stroke with right sided hemi paresis, motor apraxia and aphasia.
Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to a brain injury from a stroke, head trauma, brain tumors or infections. It’s more common in older adults, particularly those who have had a stroke.
Aphasia can be mild or severe dependent on the severity of the damage to language areas of the brain. People who have aphasia may affect the ability to retrieve names of objects, putting words together into sentences, reading, understanding words, finding the “right” words to complete their thoughts. They may also have problems with auditory comprehension (conversation, words or numbers), understanding written words or numbers and writing. More commonly, however, individuals with aphasia can have multiple aspects communication impairments. Unfortunately, I had all aforementioned speech deficits initially after my stroke and still have aphasia problems especially when I’m tired or emotional.
I had inpatient therapy at Baylor Rehabilitation of Dallas for one week and outpatient at Pate Rehab in Anna, TX. I participated in speech therapy 6 hours per day and 5 times per week for 8 months. My speech therapist, Anne, administered several assessments to determine the type of aphasia that affected me.
There are various types of aphasia and I have two of them: Expressive Aphasia & Anomic Aphasia
Other common types of aphasia are:
- Broca’s (Expressive) aphasia (non-fluent) – the person knows what he or she wants to say but has difficulty communicating it to others.
- Anomic aphasia – the person has word finding difficulties or struggles to find the right words to speak and write.
- Wernicke’s (Receptive) aphasia (fluent) – the person can hear others or read words, but may not understand the meaning of the message.
- Global aphasia– the person has difficulty speaking and understanding the meaning of the words. The person is unable to read or write. This is the most severe type of aphasia.
- Primary progressive aphasia – this type is rare where people slowly lose the ability to talk, read, write and comprehend what they hear in conversations over a period of time.
Coping with aphasia can be difficult and frustrating for many, but you must have strength to overcome. Having aphasia is a loss and grieving is key to heal mentally and spiritually during your recovery. It’s a battle to accept your impairments, to accept others & especially family to deal with your “new normal” and move forward in your life despite aphasia. Feelings of frustration, guilt and embarrassment at the inability to communicate can lead to anger, depression and avoidance of others. I stopped meeting girlfriends for lunch or other social events initially because I was embarrassed and felt I would not be involved in the conversation because my speech was not fluent. Hence, the barrier was me, not my friends.
People with aphasia may tire easily and show extreme emotional fluctuations particularly early in the recovery process. In fact, sometimes it overwhelms me to where I’m still mentally and physically exhausted. It is a lot of energy to find, write or correct words from sounds or sentences, read and speak your own name and phone number. Like writing this blog!
Family members may also feel strong emotions including anxiety, anger, confusion, depression and despair. A good support system of family and friends are important. As a person with aphasia, I understand family members may feel a sense of loss too, but practice patience. It is normal to go through a grieving process when the one you love develops aphasia. Support groups are valuable to help through this recovery and afterwards too!
If you have a loved one with aphasia, embrace them every day, allow them to keep their personality, laugh, cry and pray for them! Believe! Faith! Love!
Stroke Awareness Facts
May is National Stroke Awareness Month when the National Stroke Association is turning its attention to the alarming number of strokes in young Americans. Over the last decade, there has been a spike of 44% in the number of young Americans (under 45 years) hospitalized due to stroke. This animated video, “Young Stroke: An Unexpected Reality,” focuses on the unique challenges faced by young stroke survivors and offers a wide range of resources to support stroke survivors in their recovery journeys.
There are two main types of stroke — ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke is more common and occurs when blood flow to a part or parts of the brain is stopped by a blockage in a vessel. Hemorrhagic stroke is more deadly and occurs when a weakened vessel tears or ruptures, diverting blood flow from its normal course and instead leaking or spilling it into or around the brain itself.
- Hemorrhagic (bleed) stroke accounts for about 13 percent of stroke cases.
- Ischemic (clot) stroke accounts for about 87 percent of all cases.Where does the data lead after someone has a stroke?
* 10% of stroke survivors recover almost completely
* 25% recover with minor impairments
* 40% experience moderate to severe impairments requiring special care
* 10% require care within either a skilled-care or other long-term care facility
* 15% die shortly after the stroke
VALUE OF SUPPORT GROUPS
By Carrie & Karl
Any type of Support group can be scary at first but they all have benefits. Let’s talk specifically about Brain Injury Support Groups, Why Go?
- Initially these groups will put you in contact with other people experiencing the same shock and confusions as you. And will let you know that you are not alone in this struggle.
- Sharing this experience with others “like” you helps you come to grips with what you are going through
- They can be motivational and give you hope as you see how others are surviving
- Get pointers on how to adapt to the “”new you” and ideas on how to accomplish different goals and to get things done in a different way
- By just being with others that are going through this same experience, you become more involved with the outside world (i.e. society) and more comfortable with your uniqueness not disability.
- It is a constant reminder the progress continues to happen all the time
- Support groups don’t have to just be about complaining but sometimes you do need that avenue to vent.
Karl and I started a Support Group about 4 years ago at a local rehab hospital which speaks to those who have just acquired their brain Injury and go once a month. I always feel uplifted and positive after these meetings. These people do not even know what questions they have yet but I can tell after the meeting that we have instilled a little bit of hope and encouragement to them.
Karl also leads another support group in McKinney twice a month that he and another member stated more than 5 years ago. One of these meetings is just them getting together playing Rummikub and socializing, which sometimes is all that is needed.
|Sharan L. Schwartzberg, an occupational therapist, conducted a study to discover the benefits provided by head injury support groups. Upon the completion of her research, she reported that head injury support groups provide opportunities for the fulfilment of the following needs:
Support Groups led by BIND members:
Plano: Meets every 1st Friday at 2:00 pm
Accel Rehabilitation Hospital
2301 Marsh Lane
Plano, TX 75093
Plano: Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month from 7:-9:PM
HealthSouth Plano Rehabilitation Hospital
2800 West 15th St.
Plano, TX 75075
Upon arrival, please check with the receptionist for the exact location within the building.
McKinney: Meets every 3rd Friday from Noon to 2 pm AND every 1st Tuesday 7 pm to 8:30 pm
Stonebridge United Methodist Church
1800 S. Stonebridge Drive
Bring your own meal
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a complete listing of all DFW area support groups that we are aware of.
May seems to be a very important “awareness” month in the United States, as it is both “Mental Health Awareness Month,” and “Stroke Awareness Month.” So in thinking about how these two important issues relate, it seems appropriate for me to mention a very common condition experienced by thousands of stroke survivors each year- Post-Stroke Depression (PSD). Estimates of prevalence, or how common, PSD is among survivors vary, but is generally found to be as many as 1/3 to 2/3 stroke survivors experience PSD at some point following stroke. Causes of PSD are not completely known, though hypotheses include the possibility of neurochemical alterations/changes in the brain (e.g. changes in levels of key chemicals such as serotonin or norepinephrine) that occur after stroke, as well as more “situational” issues such as adjusting to significant physical limitations or loss of independence. In reality, PSD probably occurs as a combination of neurochemical changes in the brain as well as psychological adjustment to loss.
So why is it so important to screen for PSD, and for stroke survivors and their families to be aware of this condition? When PSD is left untreated, it not only adversely impacts the stroke survivor’s quality of life, but it can actually delay meaningful improvements in function and progress through rehabilitation efforts!
The good news is that PSD is a very treatable condition. Generally speaking, antidepressant medications are the first-line of treatment for PSD. In my own clinical experience, survivors may not need medication for an extended period of time, but it can be very helpful to “get over the hump” initially. Antidepressants help to increase and stabilize certain chemicals in the brain believed to be related to mood. Additional treatments may include individual psychotherapy/counseling, particularly if depressive symptoms appear to be more related to adjustment to disability/loss. Other effective treatments may include increasing involvement in enjoyable activities (hobbies/interests) and improving social support.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s website has a lot of great information, including many inspirational stories told by stroke survivors. Sometimes the most powerful “treatment” for PSD may actually be the instillation of hope for the future- no matter the degree of disability. And there is nothing like hearing another stroke survivor tell his or her story.
BIND also works to improve the lives of individuals living with the effects of stroke through programs such as Peer Partners, a mentoring program provided by stroke survivors/caregivers for stroke survivors/caregivers. Feel free to explore our website for more information on our programs.
And if you or your loved one is living with PSD, I encourage you to get connected- explore area stroke support groups, talk to your doctor about treatment options, get involved with the AHA/ASA, or reach out to BIND!
~Dr. Kelley D. Beck, Board President
On May 13, 2014, my life made a 360 degree turn! I was working in my office with a colleague at Reliant Rehabilitation of Dallas. I stood up to drink a cup of water and the cup dropped, my right side of my face drooped & my right arm was oscillating without control. My mind yelled, “ALERT! SOMETHING IS WRONG!!” but I couldn’t say a word.
I was transferred to Medical City of Dallas immediately via ambulance. I had an embolic stroke (actually 2 blood clots) in the left hemisphere of my brain. In the ER, they administered tPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) to dissolve the clots to improve blood flow in the middle carotid artery. One of the clots was “stubborn” I guess and I had brain surgery (intracranial angioplasty and stenting).
I woke up in ICU in silence and had right sided hemiparesis (right arm was flaccid (no muscle tone) and sensation deficits. I have Apraxia (oral motor speech) and Aphasia (express & understand language). After my stroke, I couldn’t read, speak, nor form sentences. Thank GOD my spelling and memory was intact to write simple words to express my needs.
I am a Physical Therapist practicing over 20 years and my position before the stroke was Chief Therapy Officer managing staff, hospital policies and rehab patients/families. I transferred to Baylor Dallas inpatient for a week for all therapy disciplines (Physical (PT), Occupational (OT) and Speech (ST)) then Pate Rehabilitation (Anna location) outpatient for ST for 8 months. My discharge from Pate was January 28, 2015 and I was a little torn. I was sad to leave my “safe place”, happy because my speech was better and scared to jump into life again!
I gained more Faith in GOD and more fight for my life and my daughter, Tylar. A lot of crying (an emotional battle) during my storm but those tears were a symbol that I’m thankful & humbled because GOD shielded and blessed me with a strong support group…family and friends! I didn’t work for nearly a year and gradually started PT per diem then full time in June 2015. GOD IS GOOD!! I joined B.I.N.D. last year as a volunteer to connect with brain injury survivors and to increase awareness & knowledge in the community. Brain Injury Network of Dallas is a bridge to build relationships, mentorship, support for survivors and their families and a platform for patient advocacy!
Stroke Survivor May 2014