Last week we explained how March was being celebrated as “Brain Injury Awareness Month.” As with so many other public health and safety issues, raising awareness and educating about the issues is a critical step in addressing the problem and ultimately finding solutions to minimize the harm.
In honor of sharing information about these harms, an article in Take Part recently sought to dispel some misunderstandings about brain injuries. The headline itself is provocative: “What’s Really Causing Traumatic Brain Injury (Hint: It Isn’t Sports).” The main point that the author makes is that while sports-related TBIs have gained significant attention in recent years, they actually constitute a relatively small percentage of brain injuries. Car accidents and falls remain, far and away, the most common underlying cause of TBI.
The article reminds that in total, this is not some relatively minor issue that only occurs occasionally. It has staggering physical, mental, emotional, and financial costs. Each month nearly 140,000 more people will suffer some degree of traumatic brain injury. Many will be relatively minor, but even “minor” brain injuries have real consequences on the lives of those in the middle. And the serious TBIs are not all that rare. According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs are actually the leading cause of death for certain younger age groups. On the financial side, estimates suggest that these brain injuries cost about $75 billion a year. Obviously there is significant reason for all of us to work on minimizing these harms.
Truly tackling the problem requires focusing on how TBIs often strike, most notably auto accidents and falls. About half of all TBIs arise in this way, meaning that making a serious dent in minimizing TBIs requires focusing on safety related to transportation and minimizing slip and falls.
The Next Steps
Most argue that we need to focus on awareness, prevention, and research. This makes intuitive sense. On the awareness front, it is important for community members to understand that real harm can come from even small brain injuries. It does not take a dramatic blow to do damage.
Once more people understand that risk, preventative efforts can be taken which address those risks. Also, focusing more intently on basic “safe driving” tips (wear a seatbelt, don’t drive distracted, etc.) may be the most important way to actually prevent TBIs. Encouraging safety in sports is certainly part of that prevention piece, but it is nowhere near the most important.
Finally, we must continue to provide support to research efforts hoping to better understand the injury and ultimately provide better treatment options. The brain remains a mystery in many ways, but step by step we can learn more and help those suffering.
The injury attorneys at our firm are proud to play a small role in raising awareness of sharing information about this topic. If at any point you or a loved suffers a TBI and may need legal advice on the matter, feel free to contact our firm for support.
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