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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month (2/24/17)

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month (2/24/17)

Author: Polly Carver-Kimm/Friday, February 24, 2017/Categories: IDPH News, Behavioral Health

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Each year, thousands of Iowans experience a brain injury. A car crash, a fall on the ice, or a hard bump on the head can cause what’s known as ‘traumatic brain injury’ or TBI. Other types of brain injury can be caused from a stroke, a lack of oxygen to the brain, or concussion. Often, the complications of brain injury, which include changes in thinking, language, or even general emotions, are missed. Because of this, brain injury is often called a silent epidemic. Thursday, March 2, Governor Branstad will sign a proclamation designating March as Brain Injury Awareness month in Iowa. This year’s theme is ‘Shattering the Myths and Unmasking the Opportunities.’

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), about 17,000 Iowans are seen in emergency departments annually because of TBI, which is the leading cause of death and disability among young children aged 0 to 4 years and adults aged 75 years and older. In Iowa, falls are the leading cause of TBI among young children and older adults. “That number does not include the thousands of Iowans who experience brain injury, but are not hospitalized,” said IDPH Brain Injury & Disability Program Manager Maggie Ferguson. “These individuals may suffer consequences of their injuries, but are never treated.”

You should contact a health care professional or go to an emergency department immediately if you or someone you know receives a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, and have the following signs:

In adults

  • Slurred speech
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Persistent or worsening headaches
  • Numbness, weakness, or decreased coordination

In children

  • Excessive crying
  • Slurred speech
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Numbness, weakness, or decreased coordination
  • Unable to eat

For information on prevention and resources available regarding brain injuries, visit http://idph.iowa.gov/brain-injuries

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