According to figures from the National Brain Injury Association of America, an estimated 1.7 million Americans incur a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, with another 795,000 who sustain an acquired brain injury (ABI) through a non-traumatic incident. Any brain injury can affect brain functioning and the quality of life of the individual dealing with the injury, as well as that of their family and loved ones. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, the perfect time for pharmacy professionals to educate their patients about brain injury and ways to prevent it.
About Brain Injury
Brain injuries vary in terms of severity, from mild concussions to potentially life-threatening injuries. Demographically, there is a higher incidence of brain injury among males, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with young children and older adults being at increased risk of brain injury from falling. The highest rate of traumatic brain injury from motor vehicle accidents is sustained by adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 24. Brain injury related hospitalizations and deaths are seen primarily in those over age 75.
Signs and Symptoms
Brain injury can affect sufferers in a number of areas. Cognitive functions such as thinking and memory can be impaired. Symptoms of such impairment may include difficulty thinking clearly, trouble concentrating, feeling slowed down or problems remembering new information. Physical symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting immediately after the accident, dizziness, balance issues, noise and light sensitivity, or lethargy. Symptoms can also be seen in a victim’s mood and emotions; look for unusual irritability, sadness, nervousness, anxiety, or overall increased emotional sensitivity. Finally, sleep can be affected by an injury to the brain. Those with an injury to the brain may be sleeping more or less than usual or have trouble falling asleep.
As pharmacy professionals, you want to share information and resources with your patients about relevant health and wellness topics. There are a number of activities you can engage in during the month of March to spread the word and inform consumers about various forms of brain injury and ways they can prevent them. One of the simplest and most obvious is to create signage for your pharmacy relaying information about Brain Injury Awareness Month. You could also develop a pamphlet to include in customer bags that provides an overview of the condition. You could also designate a day during the month for pharmacy to wear blue, a color associated with recognition of brain injury awareness. Either on your own or in collaboration with local hospital, rehab programs or other medical programs, organize events to promote Brain Injury Awareness Month. Examples could include safety workshops on things like the importance of wearing bicycle helmets, proper installation of car seats or the use of home safety tools such as gates at the top of stairs or window guards. Preventative measures are the key. Also consider getting involved in the promotion of other local events. Visit the Brain Injury Association of America’s events page for ones near you.
Traumatic or Acquired Brain Injury occurs far too frequently. These are just some of the ways you can educate your patients and consumers about the conditions and how they can prevent them.