June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada. With over 20,000 Canadians being hospitalized each year with an acquired traumatic brain injury (per Government of Canada website) there is a huge need for public education around the prevention and impact of traumatic brain injuries.
Did you know that:
- There are more Canadians living with an acquired brain injury (ABI) than those living with multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injuries and breast cancer combined
- 452 Canadians suffer a serious brain injury every day (1 person every 3 minutes!). This figure does not include mild brain injury statistics
- There are two types of ABIs: non-traumatic and traumatic
- Traumatic brain injuries are caused by forces outside the body (for example motor vehicle accidents, assault, sports injuries) and non-traumatic brain injuries are caused by something that occurs inside the body (such as a stroke, brain tumour or substance abuse)
- Every person will respond differently to an ABI, but common impacts includes physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural changes
- There are approximately 60 new brain injuries every day in British Columbia, which means there are 22,000 new cases every year. There are at least 180, 000 people currently living in British Columbia with severe acquired brain injury
- Those who have had a brain injury are three times more likely to have a second brain injury
(Source: Brain Injury Association of Canada, Northern Brain Injury Association)
What can be done to prevent an ABI from occurring in the first place?
- Wearing a seatbelt and securing children in proper carseats for their age and size
- Wearing the correct helmet for sports like cycling, hockey, baseball and skiing
- Taking precautions to prevent falls in children and the elderly (ie. installing hand rails, removing tripping hazards, safety gates for children around stairs)
- If a previous head injury has occurred (even if a seemingly mild concussion) extra care should be taken to protect the individual from further head injuries as a prior brain injury may make the individual more susceptible to future brain injury.
How do you support someone suffering from an ABI?
- Be patient with your loved one. They will likely find the uncertainties of brain injury recovery unsettling and frustrating
- Don’t expect your loved one to be the same person they were before their injury. Recovery will take time.
- Rehabilitation is key for recovery, but should be done under the advice and guidance of qualified medical professionals with support and encouragement from family and friends
- Don’t take it personally if your loved one is rude or abrupt with you. This is a common symptom of someone suffering from an ABI
- Look after yourself so you can look after your loved one