Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nothing minor about brain injury

New study shows thousands of Ontarians suffer brain injuries each year


TORONTO, March 19 /CNW/ - The death of actress Natasha Richardson has thrown a spotlight on an often invisible injury - brain trauma. "This tragic loss is a terrible reminder to all of us that a brain injury, even a seemingly minor one, can have devastating consequences," says John Kumpf of the Ontario Alliance for Action on Brain Injury.

Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability world wide. Traumatic brain injury is more common than breast cancer, HIV AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury combined. The leading causes of brain injury are falls, being struck by or against an object, or being in a motor vehicle crash.

Media reports indicate that Ms. Richardson took what seemed like a minor fall during a skiing lesson on a beginner slope in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. "As people watched this sad story unfold, they couldn't comprehend how a seemingly minor injury could have such tragic results," Kumpf noted. "But as people who work with brain injury survivors every day, we know that even what appears to be a harmless fall can cause lifelong impairments or death."

A new research report by Dr. Angela Colantonio for the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation shows that there were 17,482 emergency room visits and/or hospitalizations for traumatic brain injury in Ontario in 2006. In addition, there were over 19,000 hospitalizations and/or emergency room visits due to brain injury from non-traumatic causes. Non-traumatic brain injuries can include vascular problems including aneurysm and malformations, brain tumors, infections such as meningitis, loss of oxygen and other medical complications. Approximately 3,600 hospitalizations ended in death. "These are new and staggering numbers - and we know they're not even capturing the whole picture," says Dr. Angela Colantonio, the lead investigator for the study. She explains that the study does not include injured people seen by family physicians without a visit to hospital, or people who died before receiving hospital care. "Research also indicates data from administrative data sources used in our study may not record all brain injuries" says Dr. Colantonio.

While a vast majority of Ontarians will survive a brain injury, they often lose their lives in other ways. "You can lose the person you used to be: Your memory, your identity, your job, your friends and loved ones - all because of a brain injury," says Kumpf. ABI often results in a complex combination of cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral and physical problems. Even people who sustain "mild" injuries can have long term consequences. And yet, ABI survivors are largely invisible to the general public. "Ontario's health care system does a great job in the immediate aftermath of injury. But once they're released from hospitals and rehab facilities, ABI
survivors are often left on their own," says Kumpf. "But with no comprehensive long term system in place, many ABI survivors fall through the cracks."

About Brain Injury:

An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is damage to the brain that occurs after birth as a result of a traumatic or non-traumatic event (not congenital or degenerative). An acquired brain injury that is the result of a traumatic event, such as a blow to the head, is called a Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.


The Ontario Alliance for Action on Brain Injury (OAABI) was created by Ontario's experts in brain injury. The Alliance seeks to create public awareness of ABI and to partner with government in the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to support brain injury survivors and their families in the community.

1 comment:

jens mom said...

Did you watch the segment on "The Today Show" about TBI's Friday? One woman interviewed reminded me of your situation....