'Hidden' damage can be common

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No one ever thinks he or she will have a brain injury. Yet, have you ever had a concussion from being tackled while playing sports? Have you ever suffered a head injury from a car accident or bicycle fall? Do you know someone who has had a stroke or aneurysm?

People who have had brain injuries are around us every day, and we may never know it. Often referred to as a “hidden injury” because its effects are not typically physical, brain injury or traumatic brain injury affects more than 2.5 million people a year in the United States.

Memory loss, difficulty thinking, mood swings – these are common side effects of a brain injury, and can be both short-term or long-term, depending on the extent of the injury. For sufferers of brain injury, these effects can make life a new challenge every day.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. But what does this mean to you? We hope it means a greater awareness of how common brain injuries actually are – and that you will take simple steps to reduce your risk of brain injury.

Always wear a helmet during contact sports or when riding a bike, even if you are “only going down the street.” Always wear your seat belt, and make sure your children are appropriately seated in the right car or booster seat.

TO REDUCE YOUR risk of stroke or aneurysm, quit smoking, manage high blood pressure, control diabetes, eat a healthy diet and exercise. And make sure to visit your doctor regularly.

If you or someone you love has ever suffered a brain injury, there are local resources that can help. Walton Rehabilitation Health System offers or can refer patients to key resources in the area.

This includes inpatient rehabilitation for brain injury as well as outpatient care. A new program is cognitive rehabilitation, which works with brain injury survivors to help them relearn cognitive skills through a combination of neuropsychological assessments, behavior modification and family training, adjustment to medical illness counseling and speech therapy.

NeuroRestorative Georgia provides transitional living after acute care. Here, brain injury survivors spend several weeks living in a supported environment to relearn activities of daily living, from taking care of a home to shopping, banking and more.

The Augusta Brain Injury Support Group, which meets every second Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m., is another local resource. Attended by both family members and survivors, the group offers education about living with brain injury, as well as a social outlet.

Walton Options for Independent Living is a not-for-profit organization that partners with Walton Rehab but is governed by its own board. WOIL provides classes and resources to help survivors of brain injury prepare to re-enter the work force, live independently and obtain assistive technology or personal assistance as needed.

ON MARCH 24, Walton Rehabilitation Health System and NeuroRestorative Georgia are sponsoring a 5K Brain Injury Awareness Walk at the Columbia County Amphitheather in Evans beginning at 9:30 a.m. Registration is $10 for brain injury survivors and $15 for supporters, all benefiting the Augusta Brain Injury Support Group. We hope you will come out to support this wonderful event.

Brain injuries are more common than you may think – and we encourage you to educate yourself. If you are a survivor of brain injury, don’t become isolated, but reach out to local programs that can help. And we encourage everyone to become an advocate for ways to reduce your risk for this preventable injury.

(The writers are, respectively, the medical director and the chairman of traumatic brain injury services at Walton Rehabilitation Health System in Augusta.)

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seenitB4 03/10/12 - 06:35 am
Why we have contact

Why we have contact sports...

Causes"Intermittent explosive disorder" may be a cause of violence. Some athletes may be genetically predisposed to violence or (particularly male athletes) have unusually high testosterone levels. Animal behavior ethology studies may also lend a clue, as athletes may resort to violence to establish territory.

The sporting arena has also been used as a platform for countries to settle their disputes in front of the world's media.

Higher testosterone levels...heh...yeh I have always noticed that too.
So....they just can't help it.

Riverman1 03/10/12 - 08:46 am
You can't play football and

You can't play football and get out of it without a concussion or two.

scott-hudson 03/10/12 - 10:43 am
I hope people will support

I hope people will support this event. I suffered through TTP in 2008 and still deal with the brain injuries it caused. A good friend I have known for 20 years, but haven't seen in over a year came into the store the other day and I miss-took her for the saleslady that won't leave me alone and was a little rude...then I realized who she was and was so embarrassed. Anyone who has had a stroke knows that it takes a long time for some of those connections in the brain to heal and sometimes they never do. Those folks at Walton Rehab do a great job. Even though they did not treat me, they have a great reputation.

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