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Acquired Brain Injury
An acquired brain injury is caused from a blow to the head, tumour, aneurysm, stroke or concussion. A blow to the head can result from a bike or car crash, a sporting or small wheeled vehicle incident, abuse or a fall. An individual does not have to lose consciousness to sustain a brain injury. The lifelong and often debilitating effects of a brain injury can result in cognitive and behavioural problems and include personality changes, memory loss, and the inability to return to work. Brain injury has many faces: men, women, boys and girls. Survivors of brain injury often suffer with physical deficits; however, equally as many have no outward appearance that anything is wrong, yet, they struggle daily to battle fatigue, headaches, memory loss, and the inability to handle daily tasks as they once had.
Brain injuries occur at an annual rate of 500/100,000 individuals (166,455 in Canada, and 22,000 in BC each year.)[i] When other acquired brain injuries (e.g. stroke, aneurysm, anoxic events, tumors, infections, toxins, substance abuse etc.) are added to these numbers, it is estimated that close to 4% of the population lives with the permanent effects of a brain injury (1,400,000 in Canada, 160,000 in British Columbia).[ii] These survivors are added to the numbers from the year before and the year before that and so on. The numbers continue to grow; therefore, the unknown total of individuals and families struggling to cope with the effects of brain injury in this province is overwhelming.
Society as a whole pays a significant price for brain injuries. It is noteworthy to look at the number of individuals being warehoused in our prisons who sustained a brain injury in their lifetime. John Simpson, founder of the Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association and retired case manager, volunteers with people who have sustained a brain injury. He states, “on the conservative side, it’s estimated that 80% of BC prisoners have sustained at least one brain injury in their lifetime.”[iii] In addition, the human cost in terms of the burden placed on the family, the added stress and often fracturing of marriages, and the emotional struggle for the survivor is immeasurable. Divorce rates are estimated to be as high as 90% following a brain injury – (Simpson).
Diagnosing a brain injury can be a long process with a variety of tests and professionals involved. Because the brain is a complex organ, with different parts functioning in different capacities, brain injuries are complex and can uniquely affect different individuals. Therefore treatment, rehabilitation and supports also need to be carefully tailored for each brain injury survivor. Brain injuries can be life threatening so be sure to take any concerns you have about brain injuries to a medical professional.
For more information contact our Brain Injury Services at (250) 479 5299.
[i] Lagois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Thomas KE, Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States, Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Control: 2006
[ii] BrainTrust Canada: Fact Sheet
Retrieved June 21, 2011 http://web.me.com/braintrust/resources/stats.html
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Victoria, B.C. Canada V8T 0A2