A to Z of Brain Injury

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Join us for the A-Z of Brain Injury

q quick tips

Q:  Quick Tips
Navigating the world of brain injury can be stressful and overwhelming. Take 4 quick tips (below) for when you or someone you know finds out they have sustained a brain injury and click here for our Quick Guide.

  1. See a medical professional: Even if you haven’t been knocked out, if you feel that you may have sustained a brain injury, you need to see a medical professional immediately.
  2. Contact Brain Injury Alliance of New Mexico: We’re here to help! Contact us for support, information and resources 505-292-7414.
  3. Get informed: Recovery is different for everyone, but arming yourself with a knowledge of what to expect can help you identify problems as they arise, and find solutions.
  4. Join a support group: Talking to people who have been through similar experiences can be affirming, and you can learn new ways to move forward through brain injury. Learn about all support groups here:  https://www.braininjurynm.org/support/

#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

p post-traumatic stress disorder

P:  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health diagnosis that can occur after someone experiences a traumatic or life threatening event. People can confuse and/or misdiagnose PTSD and brain injury because they have several overlapping symptoms and brain injuries can be sustained in traumatic ways which can cause PTSD to develop; however, these two diagnoses are different. Work on finding a professional who understands both brain injury and PTSD and how they interact with each other.
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

o occipital lobe

O:  Occipital Lobe
The Occipital Lobe is the lobe known for housing our visual functioning. It is fairly protected so it is not incredibly known to be susceptible to damage; however, when it is damaged, it can impact our vision in different ways. It can cause blind spots, blurred vision, double vision, etc. There are specialists (neuro-ophthalmologists, neuro-optometrists, etc.) that can assist in diagnosing and treating vision impairments after a brain injury. https://msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/vision-problems-and-traumatic-brain-injury#:~:text=Neuro%2Doptometrists%20and%20neuro%2Dophthalmologists,with%20brain%2Drelated%20vision%20problems.
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA


N:   Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is when the brain rewires itself to create new pathways. Neuroplasticity can play an important role in the recovery process after an injury because it means the brain can work on rerouting itself to go around the damaged area or it can allow for undamaged areas of the brain to take over that “real estate”.
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

mental health

M:  Mental Health

Mental health and brain injury go hand in hand. For reasons related to the injury directly, or for reasons related to a person’s sudden change in employment status, income level, or social isolation, brain injury can lead to depression, anxiety and anger. Often, people in demographics and populations most affected by brain injury also have dramatic mental health disparities compared to the general population. Service members and veterans, incarcerated individuals, people experiencing homelessness, people in lower income areas without health insurance, and survivors of domestic violence all have higher rates of mental health issues than people outside of those groups.

When mental health issues appear in someone with a brain injury, the symptoms can go unnoticed or conflated, leading to improper treatment or skepticism from providers. This can lead to distrust of the medical system and the person at the center of it can find themselves caught in a vicious cycle. It is important that a person’s mental health receives the same care and attention as their physical health. A mental health therapist or psychiatrist might be consulted to help a person find a path to better mental health, easing their road to recovery. If you or a loved one is looking for mental health services, consult your primary care physician for a referral or refer to the BIANM resource guide, a link to which is on this page:  https://www.braininjurynm.org/resources/
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

many people experience light sensitivity after brain injury and it might be helpful to see a neuro-optometrist

Light Sensitivity
Light sensitivity, or photophobia, occurs in about 40 percent of people with brain injuries. Photophobia can cause discomfort, pain, headaches or migraines from even moderate levels of lighting. It often accompanies symptoms of blurred vision, double vision or eye strain, but is frequently a stand-alone symptom. Light sensitivity from a brain injury can lead to increased fatigue, cognitive issues and dizziness. Photophobia can be caused by damage to many different parts of the brain: the thalamus which moderates input from the senses; the superior colliculus which controls the eye muscles; the vestibular system which works with the visual center of the brain to orient a person in space. If you are experiencing light sensitivity, consider contacting Dr. Michelle Cohen, neuro-optometrist in Albuquerque for an evaluation. She does not require a physician referral. If you need an ophthalmologist, she will refer you. Referrals don’t tend to go both ways, however, so we suggest starting with Dr. Cohen. She will also know if you need to be referred for vestibular therapy instead of the ocular-motor therapy that she provides. https://www.invisionvt.com/
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

k key word

K:  Key Words
Often, when a person with a brain injury is navigating the medical system, certain words and phrases pop up over and over that might not get explained in a way that the average person can understand. It helps to have a glossary of key words you might encounter on hand to consult when talking with doctors, lawyers, or any provider. It’s well within your rights to offer an “Excuse me one second” and pull out your list. A list of common words with easy definitions can be found below. The empowerment you feel when you can follow a conversation with your care team is a vital part of self-advocacy. https://www.everydayhealth.com/neurology/talking-tbi-a-glossary-of-formal-and-informal-terms-used-to-describe-tbi-treatment-professionals-and-more/.
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

j justice system

J: Justice System
According to Dr. Kim Gorgens, Professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver, between 50 and 80 percent of all incarcerated individuals have a brain injury. Compared to the general population, this number is shockingly high. Women in prisons have a higher rate of brain injury due to the prevalence of domestic violence. Currently, legislation is being written to provide neuropsychological exams for incarcerated individuals in order to address issues that might affect recidivism. Also, brain injury screenings for crime victims are being sought in order to address issues that tend to lead to the victims of crime ending up a part of the justice system themselves. https://bja.ojp.gov/events/addressing-needs-people-brain-injuries-justice-system , https://www.themarshallproject.org/2022/01/06/the-criminal-justice-issue-nobody-talks-about-brain-injuries
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

i income after brain injury - the state division of vocational rehabilitation may be able to help

I:  Income After Brain Injury
Many people who receive a disability from a brain injury find themselves unable to return to work full-time or at all. This loss of income and financial insecurity can have a profound impact on the mental health and quality of life of the person with the brain injury and their loved ones. Fortunately, Social Security benefits exist that directly address brain injury as a category. However, the Social Security application and evaluation process can be drawn out and daunting, which is why the Brain Injury Alliance of New Mexico recommends you work with a Disability Representative. Attorneys take Social Security benefits cases only after the case has been denied once. A Disability Representative is registered with the Social Security Administration to handle Social Security benefits applications starting with the FIRST application. Disability Representatives are qualified to help you with your application from the beginning and through all appeals if there are appeals. For a list of Disability Representatives, contact BIANM at info @ braininjurynm.org. Income insecurity is frightening, but there are resources to help you and your family through it.
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

h helmet

H:  Helmet
In 2016 a worldwide study was conducted that looked at 64,000 cyclists. The study found that wearing a helmet while biking reduced the risk of a serious head injury by about 70 percent and reduced the risk of a fatal head injury by 65 percent. Read the full article at Headway.org: https://www.headway.org.uk/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/cycle-safety/
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

g gray matter

G:  Gray Matter
Areas of the brain that have a dense amount of nerve cells are known as gray matter. Gray matter is important for our cognitive/higher level functions. The Cerebral Cortex is the outer layer of the brain that is made up of gray matter. This area gives the brain its bumpy or ridge-like appearance.
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA


F:  Fatigue
Fatigue is a frustrating barrier that often occurs after brain injury. It can impact the ability to return to work, participate in activities, or complete tasks at home. Gradual increases in activity can help, as well as avoiding substances and stimulants. To learn more about fatigue, visit: https://msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/fatigue-and-traumatic-brain-injury
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

e emotions

E: Emotions
Many people report difficulty with emotions and ‘moods’ during their brain injury recovery. There may or may not be triggers associated with these intense emotions, which can be confusing for family members, caregivers, and individuals themselves. At times, these emotions can cause anxiety, or develop into depression. Learn more about emotions after brain injury here: https://msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/emotional-problems-after-traumatic-brain-injury #BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA


D. Depression
Depression can be common after a brain injury. For example, within the first year of their recovery, nearly half of TBI survivors report experiencing depression. If you are experiencing depression, talk to a healthcare provider as they can assist in identifying medications and counseling options that might be beneficial to you.  https://msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/depression-after-traumatic-brain-injury
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA


C. Concussion.
A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It is caused by a blow, jolt or bump to the head or body. Concussions should be taken seriously. Remember:

  • A concussion/mTBI is an injury to the brain, not just “seeing stars.”
  • Most people will recover completely within 2-3 weeks if given the proper periods of rest and a gradual return to activities.
  • Repeated concussions occurring over an extended period can result in cumulative neurological and cognitive effects.
    #BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA



B. Balance
Poor balance can be the cause of brain injuries (i.e falls) or it can be a symptom that develops from a brain injury. The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center reports that nearly 50% of TBI survivors will have loss of balance or dizziness following their brain injury.  Seek a referral from your primary care provider for a physical therapy evaluation if you are having balance issues after brain injury.
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA

acquired brain injury

A. Acquired Brain Injury
Most of us are familiar with a Traumatic Brain Injury which is caused by a blow to the head like in a car accident or a fall or an assault. An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that is not caused by a blow to the head. It is also not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. Examples of ABI include stroke, meningitis, encephalitis, seizure, tumor, and drug overdose. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/acquired-brain-injury-abi
#BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth #braininjury #braininjuryatoz #braininjurysupport #USBIA