Guest Blogger: Kary Briner, Hennepin Healthcare Traumatic Brain Injury Center Coordinator
March… Longer days, warmer weather, a hint of spring in the air, and of course, Brain Injury Awareness Month. We at Hennepin Healthcare’s Traumatic Brain Injury Center invite you to take a moment to think about traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its impact on people. Listed below are ideas on how you can learn more about the injury, how they are treated, prevented and, most importantly, recognize those who are affected.
1) Know the numbers. Traumatic brain injuries affect millions of Americans every year. 2.8 million per year by some counts [i]. In addition, TBI contributes to roughly 30% of all deaths due to injuries[ii]. There are currently over 100,000 Minnesotans living with a disability due to brain injury[iii]. While the cost for care and loss of productivity of these injuries is high; the personal and emotional toll to those who are injured and their families is immeasurable.
2) Prevent. Prevention means a lot more than wearing a helmet or avoiding the football field. It does make a difference and it doesn’t always have to be complicated. There are many minor changes that each of us can take every day to make ourselves, our loved ones, or even a complete stranger safer. Making sure to never drive distracted or under the influence, taking care not to drive at speeds in excess of what is safe for the weather or road conditions. Ensuring yourself and everyone in the car is properly restrained, every time. Taking extra caution and time while walking on icy sidewalks, and helping others do the same. Wearing a helmet when doing any activity that involves moving faster than your two legs can carry you. And overall, taking an extra moment to think about safety in activities that many do every day.
3) Learn. If you work with individuals with brain injuries, take a few minutes this month to increase your knowledge on the subject. Watch a webinar, attend a conference or seminar, read a journal article, or seek out a colleague with knowledge on the topic. Or check out resources online; such as the Brain Trauma Foundation, the CDC, or our own website. Our very own Brain Injury Research Lab also has incredibly exciting, cutting edge research.
4) Get involved. This one might be a bit of a stretch for most, and that’s OK. But some of you might decide to do more. Volunteer your time, donate money or resources, or lend your support. There are other options as well, including our friends at the MN Brain Injury Alliance, who do amazing work every day to support individuals who live with this injury.
5) Honor. Contemplate, just for a moment, what it would be like to live with a brain injury. Think about how you would feel if your life, or that or someone you love, changed in an instant. What if you were unable to do your job? If your relationships with your friends and family were altered, or if you were unable to do the things that you love, even for just a few weeks? Brain injuries, even those classified as mild, can and do change lives in an instant. Ultimately, all of the new exciting developments and our desire to do more while doing better, are driven by our continued effort to honor those affected by this injury affected.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how you could get involved, please reach out. By phone: 612-873-3284; e-mail: Kary.Briner@hcmed.org; or go to our website. Your brain, or someone else’s, will thank you.
Kary Lehman Briner, LICSW
Traumatic Brain Injury Center Coordinator
[i] Data from the CDC.
[ii] Data from the CDC.
[iii] Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance