Chris Stewart is the Resource Facilitator for The Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska.
Do you know someone that has experienced a brain injury? The answer to the question is probably yes. Let’s check:
Do you know someone that has taken a hit or had their head bounced around in a vehicle accident, fall, playing sports or an assault? What about a family member or friend that was diagnosed as having a stroke, aneurysm, tumor or was unable to breathe for a brief period due to choking or carbon monoxide? These are some of the causes of brain injuries reported by individuals calling the Brain Injury Alliance – Nebraska.
Brain Injury Alliance – Nebraska (BIA-NE) is a not-for-profit organization advocating with individuals that have experienced a brain and their family members across the state, to establish needed resources in prevention, education, awareness, and supports. The BIA-NE tag line has become, “A Brain Injury Can Happen to Anyone, Anywhere, at Any Time.”
Since starting to work at the Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska, I have become more aware of how random a brain injury can be. Sharon Royers, wrote about her experiences with a concussion in her book, “Out of the Rabbit Hole.” Sharon, like many of us, hit her head on an open cabinet door. For some reason, this time, the frequent occurrence had lasting effects. More than a year later, Sharon was still dealing with post-concussion syndrome. Thankfully, the majority of people that suffer a traumatic brain injury, more commonly referred to as, TBI or concussion, will fully recover in around two weeks.
Before working with the BIA-NE, no one had asked me, do you have any personal experience with brain injury? Not surprisingly, I have. My son on his 6th birthday fell from the top of a ladder onto a concrete slab. He was unconscious, and life flighted to a nearby hospital where he spent two days. Scans indicated that he had multiple seizures during his hospital stay, but after his release, he had no noticeable lasting effects. A year later, my 86-year-old grandmother fell while in the bathtub. She also was taken to the hospital but did not receive a diagnosis or treatment for a brain injury. Five days later, my grandmother died. This is the spectrum of brain injury, it affects the young through older populations; from total recovery to death, and everything in-between. This is why it is essential to ask the question; do you have personal experience with a brain injury?
Like so many conditions, with an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment along with the availability of community supports, people can regain lives they want to live. The key is a growing awareness that leads to improvement of options. Currently, due to inaccurate diagnosis and lack of treatment at the time of injury, people may suffer through self-medicating with alcohol and drugs or being misplaced in mental/behavioral health programs, nursing home placements and far too many are in the correctional system. There are reported to be 36,000 individuals living with the effects of brain injury in Nebraska. In addition, approximately 1,000 Nebraskans will have lasting effects from a TBI each year mostly due to vehicle accidents and falls. This number doesn’t include the people whose brain injury are the result of other causes than TBI or are not reported.
If your answer is yes to knowing someone with a brain injury, please check out www.biane.org or call
BIA-NE offers across the lifespan and the state:
- Prevention through the support of seat belt and helmet use and Return to Learn and Play mandates.
- Education about the different causes of brain injury and the need for resources.
- Advocacy opportunities for individuals that have experienced a brain injury, their family members, professionals and communities to increase awareness including support of LB 642, legislation to establish a statewide brain injury trust fund.
- Support through Resource Facilitation/Case Management and 16 statewide brain injury support groups to help deal with the effects of a brain injury.