Brain injury victims and their families often feel a sense of isolation following their injury, because they may not know anyone else in their situation. While brain injury support groups are slowly gaining popularity and sprouting up in new locations, it remains difficult for many victims to find access to this sort of aid. Part of the problem is that like many other specific injuries, the general public remains unaware of the scope of the problem. Awareness often comes only when an individual family is affected and forced to deal with the consequences of the injury.
However, a recent high profile example is changing that dynamic and drawing national attention to the difficulties faced by those with traumatic brain injuries. Most readers are likely familiar with the story of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords-the Arizona lawmaker who was viciously attacked at a public event. A deranged gunman shot the Congresswoman in the head before shooting many others, ultimately killing six people. Amazingly, the Congresswoman survived the attack, but she had suffered severe brain trauma. A long road to recovery lay ahead. As a story in the USA Today describes, it has been an incredibly difficult and emotional process.
After being stabilized, the doctors and Congresswoman began assessing the actual brain damage to see what the long-term consequences would be. In a preview of a new book about the recovery, the Congresswoman explained that when she tried to talk for the first time after the attack, she would only get out a jumble of sounds. Her husband wrote that at that moment, “she had just figured out that she was trapped. Trapped inside herself.” She wasn’t able to put words together until months later. When she did, she explained for the entire time she had a voice insider her head, but she simply couldn’t get it out.
The Congresswoman is in no way fully recovered. She has noticeable speech problems, and simple things like emphasizing certain words are difficult. Yet she explains that things are getting better every day, and she is confident that the trend will continue. Medical experts admit that her recovery, though far from finished, has been remarkable. They explain that with all brain injuries, it is virtually impossible to predict exactly how much permanent damage will result from the accident.
Our Chicago injury attorneys appreciate that the story of Gabrielle Giffords is one of immense courage and hope. The struggle that she has had to go through is shared by literally millions of Americans. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, roughly 1.7 million men, women, and children are currently working through the consequences of a traumatic brain injury. Many victims admit, like the Congresswoman, that it feels like an “invisible disability.” Advocates have previously referred to these injuries as a “silent epidemic.” Hopefully, the recovery of Congresswoman Giffords will serve as a starting pointing to increase awareness nationwide. The sad truth is that many victims of brain injuries, particularly severe ones, are rarely able to recover as well or as quickly as Giffords. Those victims need support and aid from all those in a position to help.
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