As part of Brain Injury Awareness Week we want to take the opportunity to remind everyone of the prevalence of brain injury in all of its guises, and arm you all with the essential facts you need to understand brain injury and how it affects more people than you might care to admit.
In summer 2015, Headway UK published one of the most comprehensive reports on brain injury statistics, which is helping a variety of disciplines plan for the future to help reduce acquired brain injuries (“ABI’s”) and to reach out to those victims who may need support. The results are best presented in numbers:
- 10 – the % increase in the number of overall ABI’s reported in the last decade;
- 60 – % increase in the number of calls to Headway’s UK-wide support line in the last 5 years;
- 90 – the number of seconds between each admission to hospital with an ABI in the UK;
- 445 – the number of head injuries acquired every day in the UK;
- 566 – the number in every 100,000 people in the UK were admitted to hospital with an ABI between 2013 and 2014;
- 130,551 – the number of UK stroke admissions in 2013-2014.
Brain Injury can present itself in many different forms, and symptoms can include but are not limited to:
- Memory loss;
- Difficulties with speech;
- Difficulty with organisation, prioritising and multi-tasking;
- Tiredness and lethargy;
- Changes in mood/depression;
- Headaches and dizziness.
As with any under-reported condition, there are many myths that people not involved in brain injury treatment and rehabilitation hold true:
- “It’s obvious when someone has a brain injury” – Whilst some brain injuries can be physically apparent, many are very subtle and picked up over time by those closest to the victim. Sometimes the victim themselves do not recognise the changes and difficulties caused by their injury. Slight changes in mood or personality, not being quite as sharp at work or not understanding an obvious joke can be just as clear an indicator of injury as a person who has lost ability to talk or move their arms;
- “It only tends to happen to men” – whilst historically men have been at greater risk of an ABI, women are actually increasingly likely to suffer the same fate. Headway UK reports that in the last decade there has been a 24% increase in the number of women being admitted for an ABI;
- “The effects and treatment are the same for everyone” – Brain injury affects everyone in different ways. Part of the journey of recovering from brain injury involves adapting to these affects and finding the treatments and strategy that best works for them. This will be different to the strategy used by someone else. The challenges faced by children with an ABI are also different from those faced by adults, and the Child Brain Injury Trust has a whole range of information and resources to help support children and their families with ABI’s;
- “My GP will tell me if I have a brain injury” – Whilst ABI’s are increasingly common, many go unreported which means that GPs may go through their whole career only having 1 or 2 patients with a diagnosed ABI. The resources available to GPs to refer and help diagnose ABI’s are limited, as are the community support services to which they may be able to refer you. If you have concern about an ABI then don’t wait to be told about it. Ask questions and ask to see a specialist if your or anyone you know thinks they might need help. Child Brain Injury Trust, Headway and other brain injury charities may be able to point you in the right direction.
As more and more information about brain injury comes to light it is hoped that the future for ABI victims will be brighter. Medical technology is ever evolving and fortunately there are many researchers and clinicians focusing on improving outcomes for brain injury victims.
One of the reasons why the number of reported ABI’s is increasing could be due to the improvement in scanning technology, which is able to confirm diagnosis and identify the part of the brain that is injured. As more and more people receive a diagnosis, doors are opened for rehabilitation and support, which would not otherwise be available.
This technology is also allowing doctors to understand better how the brain works, what part is responsible for each discreet task and how these parts all work together.
Technology is also being relied upon to reduce the number of people acquiring brain injury in the first place. One of the key arguments behind the development of driverless cars is that such technology would reduce the number of Road Traffic Accidents, which are largely down to human error and can cause some of the most traumatic of brain injuries.
Contact a serious injury lawyer
If you have any questions about Acquired Brain Injury or wish to discuss how we can support you and your family with a serious injury claim, contact our specialist team on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.