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March 29, 2022

Brain injury awareness month 2022: how to keep your brain healthy?

*The translation of this article in French, Spanish, and German has been made through machine translation and has not been edited yet. we apologise for any inaccuracies.

Each year, March is dedicated to ´Brain Injury Awareness Month´ in the USA

At least 5.3 million Americans live with a brain injury-related disability, thus making it crucial to raise public awareness on brain health, the causes, symptoms, and long-term effects of a brain injury, and how to keep your brain healthy.


Statistics from Brain Injury Association in America, show that one in every 60 people live with a permanent BI-related disability in the USA and at least 2.8 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year – making it a leading cause of death and disability.


Brain Injury Awareness Month was established

 

To increase understanding of brain injury as a chronic condition, to reduce the stigma associated with having a BI and to improve care and support for individuals with brain injury and their families´.

There are two main types of BI, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Non-traumatic Brain Injury. Here are the definitions and main differences between traumatic and nontraumatic brain injury.

Non-traumatic and Traumatic BI definition, causes and symptoms

There are two main types of BI, There are two main types of BI, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Non-traumatic Brain Injury. Here are the definitions and main differences between traumatic and nontraumatic injury.

Traumatic Brain Injury definition, causes and symptoms:


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes Traumatic Brain Injury as: “ TBI occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain.”


Mild TBI Symptoms: 

  • Headache 
  • Confusion 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes 
  • Ringing in the ears 
  • Bad taste in the mouth 
  • Fatigue or lethargy 
  • A change in sleep patterns 
  • Behavioral or mood changes 
  • Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking 

Moderate to Sever TBI symptoms: 

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away 
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea 
  • Convulsions or seizures 
  • Not being able to wake up from sleep 
  • Larger than normal pupil (dark center) of one or both eyes. This is called dilation of the pupil. 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs 
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation 

TBI Causes: 

In the USA, almost 48% of all traumatic brain injuries are from falls, about 17% from accidents of being stuck by or against something, 13% from motor vehicle accidents and over 8% from assaults.  


Non-traumatic BI definition and causes:  


The Shepherd Center describes a non-traumatic brain injury as: “…a brain injury that can be the result of an illness, oxygen deprivation, metabolic disorders, aneurysms, cardiac arrest, near-drowning experience, etc. Other nonviolent circumstances, such as tumors and lead poisoning, can also injure the brain.” 

Non-traumatic BI causes: 

  • Virus: This is the most common cause of non-traumatic BI. 
  • Anoxic injury: The brain receives inadequate levels of oxygen 
  • Toxic or metabolic injury: This occurs after coming into contact with unsafe substances (e.g., lead) or the detrimental accumulation of chemicals manufactured within the body (e.g., kidney failure). 
  • Encephalitis: This is caused by an infection of the brain. 
  • Brain tumors: Chemotherapy and radiation can be used to diffuse this type of injury. 
  • Meningitis 
  • Stroke 
  • Drug abuse 
  • Hydrocephalus 

The main difference between a Non-traumatic BI and Traumatic BI is that the former is not caused by an impact to the head, but instead causes damage to the brain by internal factors (such as lack of oxygen), while the latter is caused by an external force such as a sudden hit to the head that causes damage to the brain.

Patient insights about brain injury and brain health from 900+ M3 Panel members

To find out more about our M3 Panel member’s experiences of BI and brain health, we asked 969 patients from around the world: 

“How are you looking after your brain?” "How to keep your brain healthy"

*Please select your language

  • The majority of respondents report that they look after their brain health by actively engaging in activities to keep their brain healthy by looking after their physical health, staying connected to friends and family, and engaging in mental activities such as reading, board games, art, learning a new language, among others. 
  • 15% puts effort into ensuring that their friends and family are aware of the importance of staying healthy in general  
  • 5% of the respondents have been affected themselves or take care of someone who has suffered a BI. 
  • 1% raise money for brain charities to increase awareness and support research about brain injury 
  • 1% volunteer for brain charities to help people who suffers from a traumatic brain injury  

The neurological consequences of any sever brain injury compromises neuronal activity and can affect cognitive function, as well as language, memory, attention, and information processing faculties, leading to partial or total disability that is likely to prevent people’s functional and psychosocial recovery even in the long term. This chronical condition may be significantly disruptive and distressful for people living or taking care of people living with disabilities caused by a severe brain injury. The events leading to a severe traumatic brain injury are often psychologically traumatic (e.g., violence or motor vehicle accidents) which may lead to psychological trauma and cause other forms of illnesses such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More awareness and resources are needed to support and facilitate an improved quality of life for those affected.

10 ways to keep your brain healthy and avoid brain injury

What are the best ways to keep your brain healthy? Here are the top 10 tips for better brain health according to Alzheimer’s Association.

  1. Cardiovascular exercise that increases heart rate 
  2. Read or learn something new 
  3. Quit smoking 
  4. Take care of your heart by taking action to prevent cardiovascular diseases 
  5. Stay safe and out of risk of brain injury by using helmets, seatbelts, and other protective measures
  6. Eat healthily 
  7. Get adequate sleep  
  8. Manage stress and take care of your mental health 
  9. Stay socially connected  
  10. Challenge your mind with difficult brain exercises  
If you want to learn more about M3 Patient experiences, have a look at shared stories about Breast Cancer Survivors and Living with Long Covid. Read our last Patient Question Poll from January about Blue Monday and Mental Health.  

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