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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog

A hug is duct tape for the soul.

Reuters reported this back in February and I forgot to post it. The numbers are staggering:
Neurological disorders ranging from migraines to epilepsy and dementia affect up to 1 billion people worldwide and the toll will rise as populations age, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. The number of people suffering from Alzheimer's and other debilitating dementias, currently 24.3 million people, is expected to double every 20 years, with prevalence levels rising in developing countries, it said.

"Unless immediate action is taken globally, the neurological burden is expected to become an even more serious and unmanageable threat to public health," the WHO said.
Just one more compelling argument for aggressive embryonic stem-cell research. The stakes will only get higher as long as we delay federal funding.

Read entire article.

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Reuters, March 21, 2007.
More Americans are being hospitalized with very serious head injuries, and government statisticians say they don't know why. Statisticians on Wednesday reported a 38 percent increase in hospital admissions for the most serious kind of head injury, type 1 traumatic brain injury, between 2001 and 2004. The biggest single cause was falls.

The researchers found that in 2004, nearly 204,000 people were treated in hospitals for traumatic brain injury at a cost of $3.2 billion...The figures do not include military personnel or people treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Nor did they include people who died before they made it to the hospital.

Read the entire article.

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We've posted the text of a statement from Florida State University at a 2006 ceremony, recognizing Jack's contributions to the university.
Jack has spent more than 17 years researching solutions for patients with TBI. His generous gifts will ensure that the educators and policy makers of tomorrow will be able to continue his work well into the future.

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An old Irish blessing:

Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!

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In conjuction with Brain Injury Awareness Month, and to raise awareness about brain injury and its life-altering consequences, BIAA announces the availability of new materials for the public, those who have experienced a brain injury, their family members/caregivers, professionals and interested persons.

A new brain injury awareness packet and materials are now available.

The 2007 kit includes: (note - some of these are large PDF files)

Behavioral Challenges after Brain Injury booklet;

Challenges, Changes, and Choices: A Brain Injury Guide for Families and Caregivers booklet;

Driving After Brain Injury: Issues, Obstacles and Possibilities booklet;

Falls: The Leading Cause of Brain Injury booklet;

A Physician Talks about Severe Brain Injury. The Basics booklet;

A poster reflecting the diversity of traumatic brain injury across the United States;

Four fact sheets outlining personal stories of traumatic brain injury;

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Facts about Traumatic Brain Injury fact sheet;

Directory of the Association’s Chartered State Affiliates;

Frequently Asked Questions about the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Program;

BIAA Bookstore informational sheet

Visit the BIAA site for links to the above information.

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Exercise boosts brainpower by building new brain cells in a brain region linked with memory and memory loss, U.S. researchers reported. Tests on mice showed they grew new brain cells in a brain region called the dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus that is known to be affected in the age-related memory decline that begins around age 30 for most humans.

Read about it here.

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Visitors to this blog who are looking for further reading about TBI might be interested in visiting our new list of books on the subject.

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How sad that it's taken someone famous to finally shine a spotlight on traumatic brain injury. It wasn't enough that every year "1.4 million Americans suffer a TBI — more than are struck by heart attacks." It also wasn't enough that more than a year ago TBI "officially" became the signature wound of the Iraq War.

I remember having a somewhat heated conversation with a producer for Larry King Live because she was adamant that they would only do a show on TBI if it was headline news. I questioned just exactly what more they wanted -- newspapers had reported that TBI was the war's signature wound. Hundreds of young Americans were being shipped home from Iraq with this life-altering injury that the general public apparently knew very little about. But that was not newsworthy enough, and very soon, even the few newspapers who'd carried stories were silent.

Now that Bob Woodruff has published a book on his own injury, TBI is all over the media. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines. It's what we've wanted for so long -- for people to recognize both its seriousness and pervasiveness. I'm relieved and grateful that the country's getting this education, but I still wonder what it says about us and our media that it took celebrity status to accomplish what TBI's millions of victims and the war's recent wounded could not -- get someone to listen.

Read a good MSNBC article here.

And go here for a New York Times piece on the problems our newest severely wounded veterans are facing.

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The NFL's Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has come under fire from several sources reports the Baltimore Sun. The flack started last fall when ESPN The Magazine published an article critical of the committee's report and said "the committee skewed its data to minimize the effect and nature of concussions," a charge rejected as "totally false" by Dr. Andrew Tucker, a member of the committee since 1994 and a Ravens team physician.

Among its criticisms, the magazine said Dr. Elliot Pellman, who recently resigned as committee chair, "omitted large numbers of baseline reports from neuropsychological testing in a six-year study to arrive at figures more favorable to the league."
"People on the outside see it as industry-funded research and research that is not as accurate or sound as it should be," said Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz, the research director of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina, which has been criticized by Pellman's group for some of its work.

"That was basically done to protect the image of the game, of the league. It's troubling to me and many others that there is all this work out on retired NFL players and they have chosen to ignore the findings."
Read the entire article here and then tell us what you think. Is the NFL doing enough to protect its players and provide for them long term?

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A group of German researchers say it can. They've found that odors reactivated new memories in people's brains while they slept. With their study showing that memories are consolidated during sleep, the researchers believe that "smells and perhaps other stiimuli can reinforce brain learning pathways."

Read the entire article.

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Here's a link to a Fox News transcript of Greta Van Susteren interviewing Bob Woodruff. The interview took place last night.

Good article in the Detroit News about Woodruff's growing influence on good medical care for TBI injuries.

Yesterday ABC News reported receiving over 1000 emails from wounded veterans and their families. The emails resulted from ABC's documentary about Woodruff, "To Iraq and Back," "with many claiming they have had problems dealing with the Veteran's Benefits Administration as they seek rehabilitation from injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan." Read the article (and talk to the Woodruff family) here.

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The NY Times cited Bob Woodruff's contribution to public awareness about traumatic brain injury (TBI), called the signature wound of the Iraq War. All those "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers aside, how many people really knew that a number of our wounded will never be the same because they suffered a TBI? There are so many ugly things about this war that have been suppressed or cleaned up for public consumption, but now here is someone whose story no one can question because its truth has been well documented by the media. Maybe some of those wounded veterans will now have a chance at better medical care because of Woodruff. And maybe TBI sufferers everywhere will see improved funding for research because the public is more aware of this epidemic.

Read the entire article.

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Research has shown that bad sleep can adversely affect a person's physical health and emotional well-being. However, the amount of sleep one gets can also influence his or her decision-making. A study published in the March 1st issue of the journal SLEEP finds that sleep deprivation impairs the ability to integrate emotion and cognition to guide moral judgments.

Read the article here.

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The brains of alcohol-dependent individuals are affected not only by their own heavy drinking, but also by genetic or environmental factors associated with their parents' drinking, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Researchers found reduced brain growth among alcohol-dependent individuals with a family history of alcoholism or heavy drinking compared to those with no such family history.

Read the article here.

Labels: , , , is the destination of choice for anyone wanting to check the facts in that lastest email from Cousin Hortense -- you know, the one about the painted cats...or was it the one about buying (or not buying, depending on which version she forwarded) Citgo gas. Snopes, or the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a great resource for "just the facts, ma'am," as Jack Webb said on television long before the last two generations of emailers were born.

So it comes as no surprise that Snopes offers some good information (and additional links) on strokes, and the stroke emails to heed and the ones to trash. Here's a sample:

This might be a lifesaver if you can remember the following advice, sent by a nurse, whose husband is a medical doctor.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. A stroke victim may suffer permanent brain damage when people fail to recognize what's happening. Now, doctors say any bystander can recognize a stroke, simply by asking three questions:

  • ask the individual to smile.

  • ask him or her to raise both arms.

  • ask the person to speak a simple sentence.

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 911 immediately, and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. Researchers are urging the general public to learn to ask these three questions quickly, to someone they suspect of having a stroke. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of a stroke, and prevent permanent brain damage.

You may want to pass this along.

The page offers some sound information about strokes in general and offers these links to follow up:

CDC's Division of Heart Disease and Strokes Prevention

CDC's Statistics on Strokes

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Those of us who have had a brain injury or who care about someone with a brain injury may never get the chance to personally thank Bob Woodruff for accomplishing what no one has been able to do before -- make millions of people around the world aware of just how serious and pervasive this condition is. Thank you, Mr. Woodruff, for your courage in fighting back from the seriousness of your injury and also for honestly telling your story and standing up for the veterans of the Iraq War whose injuries (both their number and seriousness), until now, have been the Administration's dirty little secret.

We in the brain-injury community all know the numbers. We all know the numerous ways one's brain can be injured. We know more about the brain than we ever thought we would or would need to. And we certainly know how life-changing a brain injury can be, not only for the person suffering the injury, but also for the people who love and will care for him or her.
It was many weeks before ABC’s Bob Woodruff realized how lucky he was to survive a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq in January 2006. It took months for him to understand how lucky he was to recover as fully as he did.

Few do. And that is one of the more sobering lessons of “To Iraq and Back,” Mr. Woodruff’s account of his ordeal on ABC tonight. Many veterans with similar traumatic brain injuries may never fully regain their ability to speak, walk or pick up a glass of water.
Here's ABC's intro into it's coverage of Bob Woodruff and his harrowing journey. Welcome back, Bob.

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At the end of January, ABC ran some basic information about brain injury, probably as a prelude to Bob Woodruff's return after his serious injuries in Iraq. Here's a link to some questions and answers that might help some who are new to this topic.

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TBI Film Reviews
TBI Book Reviews
Traumatic Brain Injury Law Blog
Brain Blog
Brain Blogger
SoapBlox/Chicago: Protecting Our Troops
Head Injury Survival Journal
Losing the Physical Self

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