What Does Brain Injury Awareness Mean?

Teacher with Brain Injury

Amanda Nachman

Brain Injury Blog by Amanda Nachman

March 20, 2013

What Does Brain Injury Awareness Mean?

Awareness: to have knowledge or consciousness of a problem. (thefreedictionary.com)

This month is brain injury awareness month.  I read it on a brain injury resource website.  Ironically, most people who are going to that website, are quite aware of the impact mild or severe brain injuries can have on our lives.  Where is the awareness in the media?  Where is the awareness that everyday people like me suffer brain injuries just like athletes and military personnel?

Awareness needed all year round

I am a schoolteacher who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury in January, 2011.  I have been working on “awareness” since I have been capable of doing so.  I have not designated a month, but dedicated a lifetime to let people know that people with brain injuries need support, care, understanding every day, all year long.  I did not get this, but I will do everything I can to change this for others.

Let’s focus on the problem 

Recently, a writer for CNN spoke out about her injury (a concussion) and the impact it had on her life.  There was a lot about her story for one day.  Although I find it important to get our stories out, we need to keep them relevant in the media in order for changes to truly take place.  Unfortunately for this reporter, the feedback from her story became focused on her title “Living with a Borrowed Brain” vs. the actual situation and challenges she was facing.  The response these people gave this poor young woman was so typical of some of the challenges we encountered with medical providers, insurance companies, and employers.  No one wants to focus on the real problem here.

Calling all famous people! 

Peoples’ lives are being altered on a daily basis due to mild traumatic brain injuries, and yet there is still so little understanding and help for people like us.  We aren’t crazy, attention seeking people; we are people with real challenges who need the support of the greater community.  Where is our famous spokesperson who can reach a broader audience?  Not to take away from other important diseases or injuries, but we need to build greater awareness in the mass media so that hopefully there will come a time, when you tell a provider you have a brain injury, and they will understand you need compassion, guidance, and support.  If you know someone famous, PLEASE ask them to help us build awareness, not just in the month of March, but every day.

4 responses to “What Does Brain Injury Awareness Mean?”

  1. I do not even understand how I stopped right here, but I thought this submit is great.
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  2. Susan Wahl says:

    I cannot imagine that people who have never had the unpleasant experience of brain injury can begin to understand what it is like to live with it day after day. Every day is a struggle, and this is not an exaggeration. No one wants to hear about it. Brain injury is not a behavioral problem, but it is easier to label and stigmatize TBI survivors rather than people who have lost control of multiple abilities. Most of all, the ability to handle stress has made me lose my self-confidence. I am grateful to my state’s federal legislators for supporting the recognition of brain injury as an epidemic. However much I want to work rather than remain disabled, and to be independent so that the total financial weight of my housing can be lifted from my brothers and sister, I cannot see this becoming reality. I tried to receive assistance from my state’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, but it is now closing my case, as I am unable to physically work. I could go on to describe other issues I am desperately trying to deal with, alone, but the bottom line is that a motor vehicle accident, during which I sustained a TBI, changed my life forever. It is just not easy to move on with the problems associated with a brain injury, and doing it alone (a common outcome of TBI) makes it worse.

  3. Cheryl Green says:

    Oh, you say it so well! We have to use the media to bring awareness to people who aren’t already going to the resources sites we go to.
    I make films about living with brain injury, and people are starting to respond that they’re learning about what this life means. I’m also working on a Speakers Panel with my local support group, BIRRDsong, so we can go into the schools and universities to share our own stories our own way.
    I became impaired only after my 4th mild TBI and have had 2 more. The first three I shook off after a a few days to a few months of impairment each time. 2 1/2 years later, and I am not who I was before that 4th one.
    Hopefully you can get on your state BIA’s speakers panel or work with your peers to go into schools and agencies to share these experiences!

  4. Carol Fowler says:

    I totally agree. I am thrilled that brain research is continuing due to our vets and those in the sports arena. However, there are many of us that fall thru the cracks because we do not fit into either of those categories or are children. People need to realize that many of us “Average Joe’s” are living with the daily struggles of an invisible disability.

    I incurred my moderate to severe TBI in Sept. of 2000. From my medical records, I now know I fell through the cracks. Having spent days in a coma with 2 subarachnoid hemorrhages and a fractured C-2 in the ICU, I was transferred to acute rehab. My records of my time in rehab never state that I, my husband and I, nor our family with our 4 daughters (2-12 yrs)were offered counseling. The goal was to relearn to walk and be able to perform daily living skills so I could be discharged home. Having relearned those skills, I was discharged home with no follow up appointment with the PM&R doctor. I had one outpatient OT and one outpatient Speech Therapy where I was told I was fine. Eight weeks later, I returned to the neurosurgeon for an MRI which showed the C-2 break had healed and I was told to go back to work. We bought a new car, my husband taught me to drive again and back to work I went as a middle school teacher. My disability was approved by STRS Dec. 27, 2008 and beginning in January of 2009, I was now a teacher on disability retirement.

    I agree that we need a celebrity who is willing to attach his name as a spokesperson for the TBI Community. Someone who is willing to make PSA’s throughout the year to increase awareness. In my opinion, that person is George Clooney. I do not know him, but his aunt, Betty Clooney, died from a brain aneurysm, and the Betty Clooney Center was established 30 years ago this year. Mr. Clooney himself suffered a brain injury during the filming of one of his movies and had surgery for a CSF leak. His dad, Nick Clooney, and he are very politically active and the family has been in entertainment industry for years. Nick Clooney is a long time Cincinnati, OH newscaster. Nick’s sister, Rosemary Clooney, is an accomplished singer and Mr. Clooney is an accomplished actor who recently played a husband whose wife dies from a TBI, in the movie, The Descendents.

    Those are my thoughts. And obviously there is more to my story and daily struggles. I have had to be a consumer advocate for my own health care by researching and asking my family practitioner to make referrals for me. Thank you for listening.

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