Brain Injury Awareness Day on March 4 Offers Opportunity to Educate and Reduce Stigma
March 4 is Brain Injury Awareness Day, part of a national month-long awareness campaign to help increase public awareness of brain injuries. The goal of this month is to reduce stigma, spark conversation, and educate people about the resources available to those living with a brain injury and their families.
Brain injury can occur in many ways, including accidents, falls, sports injuries, strokes, and infections. These injuries can cause a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms, depending on the severity and location of the injury. Brain injury can have a profound impact on the lives of individuals and their families, often resulting in long-term disability and a need for ongoing support and care.
“Brain injuries aren’t as we see them portrayed on television,” said Ellen Werner, Director of Operations for ServiceNet’s Enrichment Center and Strive Clinic—programs that help people with brain injuries become more functional and engaged with the community.
“People do not wake from comas, and everything is fine. Strokes don’t happen just to older adults. A brain injury can happen to anyone at any time and forever change the life of the individual and all who know them,” Werner said. “Brain injury awareness month is a great way to educate everyone about the struggles faced by those with permanent disabilities as a result of damage sustained from a traumatic injury, stroke, aneurysm, tumor, or other neurological event.”
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, more than 5.3 million Americans are living with brain-injury related disabilities. While it is clear that brain injuries are a significant public health issue, there are many common misconceptions about people with brain injuries, which can lead to misunderstandings and stigmatization.
Here are a few of the most common misconceptions:
Brain injuries are always visible: Many people assume that individuals with brain injuries will have visible physical disabilities or impairments. However, brain injuries can be invisible, meaning individuals may look fine outside while still experiencing significant cognitive,
emotional, or behavioral challenges.
Brain injuries are always permanent: While some brain injuries can result in permanent disability, many individuals with brain injuries can make significant progress with appropriate medical care, rehabilitation, and support.
All brain injuries are the same: There are many different types of brain injuries, each with its own unique set of symptoms and challenges. Assuming that all brain injuries are the same can be misleading and prevent individuals from getting the specific support and care they need.
People with brain injuries are no longer capable: Individuals with brain injuries may face significant challenges, but they are still capable of achieving great things and making valuable contributions to society.
What is essential to remember is that individuals with brain injuries are just that, individuals. Their brain injury does not define them, nor should we define them by it. They come from diverse backgrounds. They have unique challenges, strengths, capabilities, dreams, goals, and interests. The better we understand this, the better we can offer meaningful services and programs that allow individuals to live their lives to the fullest. And living a fulfilling life is a goal we all share.
At ServiceNet, a nonprofit mental health and human services agency based in Northampton, we offer a variety of programs and services to assist individuals with brain injuries. Learn more about our residential homes, Enrichment Center, Strive Clinic, and Shared Living opportunities at www.servicenet.org