Brain Injuries: The Invisible Epidemic

By Pace Law | June 13, 2016

When it comes to this invisible injury, it turns out there are still a lot people who don’t realize the impact: 160,000 of us Canadians sustain one of these serious injuries every year. To put that into perspective, that’s about one Canadian every three minutes, so by the time you’ve finished reading this post another Canadian will have acquired a serious brain injury that could forever change their life.

It’s safe to say that of all the brain injury cases we work on here at Pace Law, concussionsand their related conditions are the most prevalent. We often have clients going through memory loss, problems with motor skills, issues with concentrating and multitasking, and emotional struggles including anger and depression.

Debunking Myths:

To find out more about concussions-one of the most common forms of this invisible epidemic- we got in touch with brain injury expert and neurosurgeon, Dr. Neilank Jha. According to Dr. Jha, the most important way to help deal with the brain injury crisis is through education and awareness. In honour of that, let’s start spreading the right information by debunking the top three myths associated with brain injury:

Myth #1: Concussions only happen when you’re playing a sport

Fact: The truth is, concussions are much less restrictive and can occur quite easily. They happen in motor vehicle accidents, in the workplace, at home and during sports. Something as simple as a person hitting their head on the dryer is enough to sustain a mild concussion.

Myth #2: You have to hit your head to get a concussion

Fact: Anything with enough force to shake your brain can result in a brain injury. Dr. Jha provides the analogy of your brain’s sensitivity resembling the yolk of an egg. Even a strike or blow to the chest can disrupt your brain and result in significant damage.

Myth #3: Losing consciousness is a prerequisite to sustaining a concussion

Fact: Shockingly, over 90% of acquired concussions in the literature actually have no loss of consciousness. Because of this, people often dismiss a head bump or fall as “no big deal”. It’s extremely important to pay attention to symptoms after any type of incident.

When to seek help:

The question remains; when is the time to seek professional help? Early diagnosis and counselling is key to recovering from a brain injury. Over 90% of secondary concussions happen within 10 days of the first.  If you or a loved one are dealing with any of the following symptoms after an incident, it’s time to speak to a professional:

Most common symptoms of a brain injury:

  • Lack of motor sills
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches/Dizziness
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Memory difficulties

 

The future of brain injury:

Luckily, doctors like Neilank Jha and many other brain expert medical professionals dedicate their careers to not only improving the lives of brain injury victims, but also discovering advancements that improve our world’s knowledge of brain injuries and how they are treated and detected.

As it stands, MRI machines and CT scans aren’t sensitive enough to detect the damage to the brain occurring from a concussion. This means that even with significant damage, your test could come back normal. Due to this, proving legitimate symptoms exist to insurance companies is one of the biggest issues we face with our clients.

The science is making strides towards doctors like Jha one day being able to administer a blood test sensitive enough to detect the damage from your brain injury. In addition to that, better brain scans are being developed to be inexpensive and readily accessible – scaling down to a device about the size of your smartphone. These tests will be able to detect changes in the brain following a concussion. These advancements will bring faster diagnosis of brain injuries, therefore leading to more prompt treatment and hopefully an expedited recovery process.