More than 12 million Americans live with the effects of brain injuries, and every year more than 3.5 million people suffer what the experts call an “acquired brain injury.” In addition, about 50,000 people die from traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. every year.
March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. That designation comes from the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), but it isn’t the only formal educational effort. The U.S. Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, co-chaired by Florida Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Tequesta), marked March 22 as Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill.
The theme of BIAA’s March campaign: Not Alone. The goal: Inform the public about brain injuries, from the frequency and effects to the needs of the injured and their families. The campaign includes a push to “de-stigmatize the injury, empower those who have survived, and promote the many types of support that are available.”
There’s a Lot to Learn About Brain Injury Causes and Effects
Traumatic brain injuries are caused by external force and are a subset of acquired brain injuries (ABI). ABIs, which are injuries that aren’t a product of birth trauma and are not hereditary, congenital, or degenerative conditions, afflict more than 3.5 million Americans every year. The causes of ABI include falls, car accidents, abuse, electric shock, near drowning and other forms of oxygen deprivation, exposure to toxins, trauma, infectious disease, lightning strikes, seizures, strokes, and substance abuse.
Here are some startling brain injuries statistics for the United States:
- Every 13 seconds, someone suffers a traumatic brain injury.
- One in every 60 people lives with a TBI-related disability – at least 5.3 million people.
- Every day, 137 people die from TBI-related injuries.
- Falls cause 41 percent of brain injuries.
- Sixteen percent of TBIs occur when people are struck by something or against something.
- Motor vehicle accidents cause 14 percent of brain injuries.
- Assaults cause 11 percent of TBIs.
How Brain Injuries Change Lives
Brain injuries can change the essence of a person, from physical functions to personality. The physical damage can leave you unable to accomplish simple functions such as dressing and leave you unable to make a living. In short, career and personal lives can be changed forever – or destroyed.
Life after TBI begins with medical specialists who try to heal the wounds, physical and mental, to the extent possible. Complex rehabilitation can be necessary, including physical therapy, speech or language therapy, occupational therapy, and vocational therapy. Treatment is extremely costly and can last a lifetime.
The Brain Injury Association of America maps a “rehabilitation continuum” for TBI victims. The difficulty of the process is exemplified by the labels of the progressive stages. Care begins with acute rehabilitation and proceeds to post-acute rehabilitation, subacute rehabilitation, day treatment, outpatient therapy, home health services, community re-entry, and independent-living programs.
Brain Injuries Affect Patients and Families
Aside from the 12 million people in the United States living with the effects of acquired brain injury, there are millions more who care for them and about them.
There are loved ones, friends, and co-workers. There is a small army of health care providers, from doctors to therapists. There are educators who work with them in schools. There are people in the federal, state, and local agencies that provide services. There are insurers who assess claims, and there are attorneys who can step in when the insurers try to avoid paying full and fair compensation to brain injury victims.
If you are caring for a TBI patient and need legal help getting the financial assistance you deserve, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles are here to help. Contact our Port St. Lucie or West Palm Beach offices for a free evaluation of your case.
Brain Injury Association of America
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention