Brain Injury Awareness Month in March

Brain Injury Awareness Month falls in March every month, with the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) leading awareness campaigns across the nation. The aim is to educate the public on the leading causes of brain injury, and what the needs are for those with brain injuries and their caregivers are.

This year’s theme is yet to be announced- it will be with the campaign kicks off. The 2015-2017 themes were #NotAlone. The Brain Injury Awareness Day fair, congressional briefing, as well as the reception, will take place at Capitol Hill, Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

The facts about brain injury are startling, and thus the need to raise awareness about the issue. According to statistics, someone in the US sustains a brain injury ever nine seconds. That means that 3.5 million adults and children getting an acquired brain injury (ABI) annually. This number could be much higher given that not all case gets reported. Not all cases of brain injury come from contact with an external force. Electric shocks, a lightning strike, near drowning, oxygen deprivation, stroke, tumor or substance abuse are examples of ABI.

The highest percentage of traumatic brain injury (TBI) come from falls with 40.5 percent, with other causes standing at 19%. Being stuck by or against something is 1.2 percent higher than those acquired during motor vehicle traffic accidents. From the figure reported, 137 people die daily from TBI-related injury and 50, 000 annually. The numbers, however, get more worrying. A least 5.3 million Americans are currently living with disabilities brought about by TBI. That’s about 1 in every 60 people in the country.

The effects of brain injuries are far-reaching. It affects survivors and their immediate relations, with healthcare providers, insurance companies, and government agencies having to step in. Depending on the case, you’ll find that employers lose valuable human resource and attorney (see Diamond and Diamond for examples of injury claims) to handle cases.

This campaign comes in the wake of the FDA signing off on the first ever blood test tailored to detect some types of TBIs in adults. The Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator (BTI) got approved on Valentine’s Day, 2018. It measures two brain-specific proteins levels which typically appear in the blood 12 hours after a brain injury. The average time it takes to get a result is three to four hours, although it’s expected to go down to an hour as improvements are made during the year.

CT scan is the current method used to identify TBI. It exposes patients to radiation, is expensive and not always a reliable way of detecting mild TBI. The BTI is however not a substitute as it may be unable to identify a much severe brain injury. It is, however, a step in the right direction.

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