March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Each year, millions of people in the United States sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from falls, motor vehicle traffic crashes, collisions with moving or stationary objects, and assaults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates TBI will affect 1.7 million people, resulting in 1.365 million emergency room visits; 275,000 hospitalizations, and 52,000 deaths every year. In order to bring awareness to brain injury and the lives of those affected by it, March is designated as national Brain Injury Awareness Month.

This year, for the first time, Alabama has also specifically designated March as Brain Injury Awareness Month in the state, with a proclamation from Gov. Robert Bentley. Statistics show that nearly 10,000 people in Alabama receive a brain injury every year, resulting in 500 deaths and 1,500 disabilities among children and adults.

“Brain Injury Awareness Month honors the millions of survivors who, with proper acute care, therapeutic rehabilitation and adequate long-term supports, are living with brain injury every day,” said Susan H. Connors, president and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America.

Goals for the statewide recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month include honoring Alabama’s citizens with Traumatic Brain Injury and their families, and increasing awareness to the general population about brain injury through the Alabama Head Injury Task Force.

The Task Force is a statewide advisory board for TBI, established in 1989 by the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS). Its mission is to develop the ideal service delivery system for Alabamians who experience a TBI.

“Brain injury affects people in ways that are invisible, that no one understands and it is often called the hidden disability,” says Beasley Allen employee Carol Stanley, who began crusading for awareness about TBI after her son, Jason, was injured during a violent crime. She is active with the Alabama Head Injury Task Force. “A brain injury is a forever life-altering experience for the TBI survivors and their family. Many characteristics of the brain injury impairment are not always familiar, and are not obvious to the general public, medical system, education system, legal system, judicial system, law enforcement and so on. My son’s TBI journey has taken us down all those avenues, and this is why I feel TBI education and awareness for all people is so very important.”

Members of the Task Force include people with TBI, their family members, the Alabama Head Injury Foundation, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) TBI Model System, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, and the Coalition of Domestic Violence. The group also includes such state agencies as the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Senior Services, and the Alabama Medicaid Agency.

“Due to recent events including concussions in the NFL, the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Giffords and the return of our ‘wounded warriors,’ the awareness of traumatic brain injury is increasing,” said Charles Priest, executive director of the Alabama Head Injury Foundation (AHIF). “The Alabama Head Injury Foundation is responding with a new focus on safety and prevention through car seat campaigns and sports concussion education. We welcome the opportunity to coordinate the activities for Brain Injury Awareness Month in Alabama.”

People who have sustained a brain injury may access a specialized statewide network of staff who can work with the individual and his or her family to educate them about the brain injury and provide services and support. For more information, contact Maria Crowley, State Head Injury Coordinator, at 205-290-4590 or email her at maria.crowley@rehab.alabama.gov.

Information about TBI also will be featured throughout the month of March on Beasley Allen’s Personal Injury and Product Liability website at www.southerninjurylawyer.com.



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