We recently heard from Julie Peters, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut. The Brain Injury Alliance is a non-profit agency that promotes education, advocacy, and services for individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

What are the different types of TBI and what are their symptoms or signs?

Traumatic Brain Injury is an insult to the brain caused by an external force.  This includes concussive injuries, comprising approximately 80% of all TBIs in the US. Acquired Brain Injury is the umbrella term that includes TBI as well as any injury to the brain that is not degenerative, congenital, or hereditary and has occurred after birth.  Physical consequences of brain injury are wide-ranging and can include seizures, muscle spasticity, fatigue, headaches, balance issues, speech difficulties, sleep disturbances, loss of range of motion, visual, auditory, olfactory issues, paralysis, motor control, and coordination. Most individuals living with brain injury do not have symptoms that are easily recognizable.  Hence,

Brain Injury is often called the silent epidemic.

What are the most common causes of TBI and how can they be prevented?

Causes of TBI can include falls, motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, assaults, and blast injuries.  Causes of ABI can include anoxia, aneurysms, infections to the brain, stroke, intracranial surgery, toxic exposure, and brain tumors.  Because prevention is the only cure for a brain injury, to reduce your risk, wear your seat belt, don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, don’t text or use a cell phone while driving, wear a helmet, prevent falls at home and focus on your surroundings.

What are some of the resources that the Brain Injury Alliance provides to people with TBI?

Free Helpline: Brain injury specialists provide support and resources for individuals with brain injuries, family and caregivers, and professionals to ensure that the complex problems they face are negotiated more easily and effectively. BIAC maintains a comprehensive database of resources.

Community Education:  A comprehensive website with links to resources, supports, brain injury education, and information; a conference for professionals who support individuals with brain injury; community training and educational programs.

Support Groups: BIAC sponsors support groups throughout Connecticut. Facilitated by both an individual with a brain injury or a family member, and a professional, the support groups focuses on the specific needs and interests of their attendees.

Brain Injury Navigator:  fee-based service that provides customized, in-depth direction from an expert in brain injury. This program is for individuals whose brain injury range from mild (concussion) to severe, who are not supported by state services and are “falling through the cracks.” The Navigator service also supports families as they care for a survivor and to act as an advocate when they are no longer able to do so themselves.

Legislative Advocacy: Through legislative and state government initiatives, BIAC works to improve the quality of life for people living with brain injuries while supporting initiatives to help prevent brain injuries from occurring.

Do you have any advice for family members of TBI victims regarding how to best support their loved ones?

Brain injury doesn’t just affect the person injured, but it also has a great impact on family members in many ways. Learning how to adjust to the changes to the individual as well as the family system is often a difficult process. In many ways, especially when the injury is severe, there can even be a period of grieving for what has been lost. Oftentimes, family members feel overwhelmed, lost, scared, and confused. Be patient with both your loved one and with yourself, ask for help and support from wherever you can find it, and at your own level of comfort get the information that will help you to best understand injury & recovery, advocate, and get through the oftentimes long journey of rehabilitation toward optimal recovery.

Is there anything else you would like to share with people regarding TBI education and rehabilitation?

Most people do not ever think about brain injuries, but we are ALL vulnerable.  All brain injuries – even concussions – can be very serious. Recovery is a process, can be very long, and difficult.  Any injury to the brain can be devastating – so know how to protect yourself. If you do need help, contact the Brain Injury Alliance of CT for support, guidance, and information.  general@biact.org, 860-219-0291, or www.biact.org.

Pro Tip:   All TBI’s can have serious, long-lasting consequences. If you have received any type of head injury, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced TBI lawyer. Should you have any questions about your Connecticut accident case, contact us.