Kansas State Research and Extension has created a new program about brain injuries that is two-pronged: one portion includes resources for people with traumatic brain injuries and a second helps people gain a better understanding about injuries that affect more than a million people each year, and up to 20 percent of military personnel returning from combat deployment.
Some injuries are mild — a bump on the head that causes some temporary symptoms; others are severe enough to cause partial or significant loss of function in many areas. Survivors of brain injuries say attitude of the public is one of their biggest challenges.
The professional community describes success in terms of the person being able to return to work. But the work may be different, Eubank explained, citing one of three case studies followed in the program, in which a former pilot instructor now serves his community as a volunteer firefighter.
The individual may be different than before the injury and they need to be accepted for the person they are now. A western Kansas homemaker described how her friends sent her a card saying “hope you get better” soon after her car accident; then she never heard from them again.
“People tend to shy away,” she said. “We’re not contagious.”
Some have no visible signs of their injuries. Symptoms of a mild injury include:
• headache that does not go away
• trouble remembering, paying attention or concentrating, organizing daily tasks or making decisions and solving problems
• slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading
• getting lost or easily confused
• feeling tired all the time, lacking energy or motivation
• change in sleep pattern
• loss of balance
• increased sensitivity to sounds, lights, distractions
• blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
• loss of sense of taste or smell
• ringing in the ears
• change in sexual drive
• mood changes
Groups most vulnerable to brain injuries include infants and children up to age 4, adolescents and older adults.
Program materials include information about managing concussion in high school athletes, and the importance of keeping a teen out of play to give the brain time to heal and avoid a second, more severe incident.
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About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.