Brain Injury Awareness

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as damage to the brain resulting from external mechanical force. Brain function is temporarily or permanently impaired, and structural damage may or may not be detectable with current technology.

Even after an injury such as a concussion, an MRI or CT scan may show no abnormalities in the brain, but a person could still be feeling major effects of the injury. Oftentimes, TBI is a hidden disability, which can be frustrating to both injured individuals and their loved ones.

TBI Facts

Each year in the United States, about 1 million people are treated and released from hospital emergency departments as a result of traumatic brain injury. As many as 230,000 people are hospitalized and survive and an estimated 80,000 people are discharged from the hospital with some TBI-related disability. Approximately 50,000 Americans die each year from a traumatic brain injury.

My Story

I am a part of these TBI statistics. In October of 2010, when I was training as a pediatric resident in Cincinnati, I was struck by a car while riding my bike on one of my days off from work. I was wearing my helmet, but still suffered a severe bleed around my brain and spent two months in the intensive care unit and an inpatient rehabilitation facility. I was honestly not expected to survive, much less be living the life I am right now.

When I left the hospital, doctors expected me to end up in a nursing home. Instead, I am thriving in my career as a pediatrician, helping kids to live safe and healthy lives. I have been extremely fortunate in my recovery, but I think about this difficult time of my life every day. To look at me now, no one would believe what I (and my family) went through both physically and psychologically during that time. This past is a part of me, but it’s invisible to those who don’t know me. Many traumatic brain injury survivors share a similar story. Others aren’t so lucky.

Brain Injury Prevention

You never know what life will bring, but during Brain Injury Awareness month, you can focus on a few things that everyone should be doing to stay as safe as possible. Here are some tips:

  • Wear your seatbelt and make sure that your children are in the appropriate car seat or booster seat for their age and size. Many traumatic brain injuries are related to motor vehicle collisions.
  • Make sure your child is wearing a helmet when skiing, biking, scootering, or skateboarding, and be sure that you are setting the example by doing the same.
  • Make sure that any firearms you own are unloaded and locked away.
  • Be sure that your home is baby-proofed appropriately to prevent potential falls.

You might not be able to control everything that happens to you or your loved ones, but you can prevent many of the worst outcomes by taking the appropriate precautions.

TBI Resources

If you or someone you know has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, there are many organizations out there dedicated to providing help and assistance to survivors and their loved ones. Some of these organizations include the Brain Injury Alliance, the Trauma Survivors Network, and the Brain Injury Recovery Foundation. I know firsthand the impact a traumatic brain injury can have on everyone involved. The help is out there. Let’s be safe.

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