March 26, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Angel MedFlight is all too familiar with the complicated journey of patients with brain injuries. We have transported many patients that unfortunately were the victims of accidents resulting in Traumatic Brain injuries (TBIs). A TBI is a blow, jolt, bump to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.
Who gets TBIs? Anyone can sustain a brain injury. Brain injuries do not discriminate. Every year, 2.4 million people, including 475,000 children, sustain a TBI in the U.S. According to the Brain Injury Association 52,000 people die, 275,000 will be hospitalized, and 1.3 million will be treated and released from the emergency room.
The Reason For TBIs. The major cause of TBIs is falls (35 percent), car accidents (17 percent), workplace accidents (16 percent), assaults (10 percent) and other causes (21 percent). About 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year are the result of concussions.
The Cost Involved. No two brain injuries are alike. For some a brain injury can be the start of a life-long neurological disease process. Some victims of TBIs require a full continuum of life-long treatment. The cost to treat brain injuries is staggering. An average hospital-based rehabilitation is about $8,000 per day. We are fortunate in the Phoenix metropolitan area, to have the Barrow Neurological Institute. Barrow is internationally recognized as a leader in neurological research and patient care. They treat patients with a wide range of neurological conditions, including brain and spinal tumors, cerebrovascular conditions and neuromuscular disorders.
Doctor Brent Masel, National Medical Director for the Brain Injury Association of America says that since “anyone can sustain a brain injury at any time, it is important for everyone to have access to comprehensive rehabilitation and ongoing disease management. Doing so eases medical complications, permanent disability, family dysfunction, job loss, homelessness, impoverishment, medical indigence, suicide and involvement with the criminal or juvenile justice system. Access to early, comprehensive treatment for a brain injury also alleviates the burden of long-term care that is transferred to tax payers at the federal state and local levels,” maintains Dr. Masel.
Angel MedFlight had the privilege of transporting a TBI victim across country for rehab recently and being part of his healing journey. For more than a year the patient needed intense rehab to gain back basic skills. This required multiple cross country transports on an Angel MedFlight Learjet to rehab facilities. Thankfully, after just more than a year, the patient was able to go home.
Preventing TBIs. Safety is the key to preventing TBI in children. Seatbelts, helmets, and an understanding of the law can reduce and minimize injury to the brain. All children should wear a seatbelt. Those under the age of 12 should be placed in the back seat of a motor vehicle. They should be positioned in an appropriate seat based on their age. A child should always wear a helmet that has been properly fitted when on a bicycle, a skateboard or any other wheeled apparatus. Children should know the rules of the road when on a bicycle or crossing the street. They should wear proper protective headgear when engaging in sports such as football or hockey.
Know the signs. It is important to know the signs of TBI. These include: a loss of consciousness, confusion, drowsiness, amnesia, prolonged headache or persistent vomiting. If any of these exist, consult a physician immediately. If there is any doubt or concern, don’t hesitate to visit the emergency room.
The bottom line is a TBI can happen to anyone, unexpectedly. Take time to be careful when driving or operating other motor vehicles. Be sure to wear a helmet for dangerous sports. Always think about safety when it comes to your brain.