March marks Brain Injury Awareness Month
Hana Rice, a guide with U.S. Military Outdoor Recreation, secures a climbing rope after repelling from an approximate 35 foot rock face within the National Network of Footpaths in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. Members of the climbing party were required to wear the appropriate climbing helmet and safety harness in order to prevent possible injuries such as traumatic brain injury. TBI awareness is observed throughout the month of March in hopes of spreading awareness of the trauma and potentially preventing future cases. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time to recognize the more than 5 million Americans living with disabilities related to traumatic brain injuries. TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or by a penetrating head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal function, though not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBI contributes to about 30 percent of all U.S. injury deaths each year.
Dr. Kirsten Pollick, Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s neuropsychologist, TBI program director and mental health department head, said people should know the signs of TBI and seek proper care.
“The severity of a TBI can range from mild, with a brief change in mental status or consciousness; to severe, with an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia,” Pollick said.
At least 2.5 million children and adults suffer traumatic brain injuries each year. Of those, about 2.2 million are treated in emergency departments, and about 280,000 are hospitalized.
Physical signs and symptoms of TBI include loss of consciousness, a state of being dazed, headache, fuzzy or blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, balance problems, or feeling tired or having no energy.
Some symptoms appear right away, while others might not be noticed for days or months after injury. Children with a brain injury can have the same symptoms as adults, but it’s often harder for them to let others know how they feel.
Leading causes of TBI include falls, being hit by an object and motor vehicle crashes. Though service members are at an increased risk for TBI while deployed to areas with increased risk of blast exposures, about 80 percent of new TBI cases among military personnel occur in nondeployed settings, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports and recreation activities, and assaults.
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