June is Brain Injury Awareness Month throughout Canada. We pay tribute to those who live their lives with a brain injury, as well as the family, friends and caregivers of those affected. This month also provides an opportunity to further educate the public about head injuries and both the subtle and dramatic consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Historically, there has been some suspicion by segments of the public on the effects of a concussion or head injury. There was a lack of understanding both by the public and by some in the medical community that a concussion is a head injury. This stigmatization adversely affects accident victims in obtaining much needed care and compensation.
Society’s view of head injuries has begun to change, thanks in large part to the public challenges faced by Sidney Crosby and other athletes who battle concussion related symptoms in their attempts to return to their sports. Links are becoming more evident between head injury and psychological problems including suicide. Also, the medicine has evolved with a greater recognition of the need for early and comprehensive treatment.
Recently the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation released Guidelines for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (see link below). These provide best practices and evidence based assistance for health practitioners in treating persistent symptoms from mild head injury.
Significantly, the Guidelines note that 10-15% of people who sustain mild TBI will continue to suffer symptoms beyond the 3 month period. Mild TBI can occur where there is no loss of consciousness.
Mild TBI is defined as traumatically inducted physiological disruption of brain function, as manifested by one or more of the following:
- Any period of loss of consciousness for up to 30 minutes
- Any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident for as much as 24 hours
- Any alteration of mental state at the time of the accident
- Focal neurological deficits that may or may not be transient
In our practice, we see countless accident victims who have sustained mild traumatic brain injuries in accordance with this criteria but who are routinely told by insurers thay they have not sustained a head injury. It is hoped that this Guideline as well as the awareness brought by Brain Injury Awareness Month will help pose less hurdles for brain injured accident victims.
- Guidelines for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Persistent Symptoms [PDF]
- A special thanks to Functionability Rehabilitation who provided information on this topic
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Neither the author of this article or Singer Kwinter can accept any responsibility for financial loss nor gain of any nature should the reader not take advice from their legal advisor.