June is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time when we raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries and their impact on individuals and their families. It is important for people with diabetes to be aware of the link between the disease and brain injury. Research has shown that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of experiencing traumatic brain injuries due to factors such as hypoglycemia, falls, and car accidents. In many cases, the effects of a brain injury can be long-lasting and life-changing, affecting a person’s ability to work, care for themselves, and live independently. By raising awareness of traumatic brain injuries and the connection to diabetes, we can encourage people to take steps to prevent or manage their risk and promote brain safety in their daily lives.
Shedding a Light on Brain Injury Awareness: What is Brain Injury?
Brain injuries can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain, including the ability to think, decide, and process information. Various factors lead to brain injuries, such as falling, sport-induced injuries, accidents, birth trauma, infections, and tumors. Brain injury can affect a person’s cognitive, physical, behavioral, and emotional states.
One common form of brain injury is acquired brain injury or ABI. It is not an outcome of birth trauma or a hereditary condition. Rather, it is a result of brain tumors, infections, stroke, or severe injury on the head. ABI has two subtypes, traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury.
A traumatic brain injury results from external forces, while non-traumatic occur because of internal dysfunctions. The following causes explain the occurrence of these brain injury subtypes:
Traumatic brain injury:
- Motor vehicle crashes
- Injuries in sports
- Child abuse
- Being hit by a bullet, hammer, or baseball bat
Non-traumatic brain injury:
- Encephalitis (infection of the brain)
- Drug abuse
- Metabolic disorder
A non-traumatic brain injury is also a result of anoxic injury. Anoxic injury occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen present in the brain. This deprivation of oxygen can lead to the death of brain cells, ultimately affecting normal brain functions.
Recognizing the symptoms
Some traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury symptoms can appear in their early days. The first indications of these conditions are:
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurry vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Light sensitivity
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty deciding
- Trouble thinking
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling disoriented
- Being dazed
- Slurred speech
Emotional and behavioral symptoms
- Mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritated easily
- Feeling sad
- Feeling nervous
The impact of brain injury on daily living
Brain injuries can have a significant impact on our life. These effects can vary depending on the magnitude of the damage and can affect our physical and cognitive abilities.
Physical challenges: Brain injury can restrict our mobility such as moving, balancing, and coordination, and impairs our ability to perform simple daily tasks.
Cognitive impairment. Brain injury can compromise our mental health too.
- The inability to concentrate
- Trouble processing information
- Memory loss
Emotional and behavioral change: Managing and adapting to emotions can be exhausting with an injured brain. Some may find it challenging to socialize and experience frequent episodes of uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety and depression.
Communication problems: Brain injury is also associated with poor verbal communication. Some examples of challenged communication due to brain injuries are slurred speech and lack of ability to express thoughts.
Treatment options for brain injuries are available in the form of over-the-counter pain relievers (for headaches), as well as prescription medications for more severe conditions. Inflammation and bleeding may need emergency care in hospitals.
In addition, surgeries are only necessary when there is a fracture, or blood clots inside the brain.
Spreading awareness of brain injury
The Canadian government recorded over 200,000 cases of acquired brain injury in 2020. This seeded the necessity to spread awareness and educate people on preventing the condition. Canada recognizes the month of June as Brain Injury Awareness Month.