March is Brain Injury Awareness Month – four weeks each year when a number of government agencies, health care organizations, and safety advocates devote much of their attention to raising public awareness of traumatic brain injuries, commonly called TBI. One of the agencies spearheading TBI awareness efforts, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hopes to call attention to these serious injuries with a unique campaign aimed at giving them a voice in the form of personal stories told by victims of TBI and their loved ones.
The Heads Up Film Festival showcases a collection of videos submitted by people whose lives have been in some way impacted by TBI. This collection of films, which will expand to include more videos throughout March, provides an emotional outreach to victims’ and their families as they set upon an often confusing and lonely path to recovery.
Beasley Allen staff member Carol Stanley is one person who embarked on that path in January 2007 after her son Jason, a college student at Auburn, received a TBI during a vicious assault. Jason’s recovery has been full of the ups and downs experienced by so many TBI patients, and Carol has since become a strong advocate for better TBI awareness and tougher laws against crime. To help their story reach a broader audience, Beasley Allen produced a video of Carol and Jason describing their experiences with TBI for inclusion in the CDC’s Heads Up Film Festival.
The CDC estimates that 1.7 million Americans receive a traumatic brain injury every year. Of those individuals, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and 1.4 million are treated and released from a hospital emergency department. Most TBIs (including concussions, which account for most brain injuries every year) are the result of bumps, blows, or jolts to the body that cause the brain to shake or knock against the skull, altering the chemical composition of the brain and damaging vital cells. Ignoring head injuries, even the seemingly mild ones, can impede recovery and even cause the victim to become permanently impaired.
The leading causes of TBI are motor vehicle crashes (50 percent), falls (21 percent), assaults and violence (12 percent) and sports and recreation (10 percent).