A partnership between local law enforcement, seniors and senior service providers
Every 18 seconds, someone suffers a brain injury; that’s 2.5 million people a year. At the July 22 Triad meeting, Martha Hall– formerly with the Brain Injury Association of Virginia — shared important information about causes, effects and signs of brain injury. It can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone, she said, and seniors are one of the highest risk groups.
Background. There are two types of brain injury. (1) Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results from an external force—a blow, gunshot wound, a jolt to any part of the body. (2) Non-traumatic brain injury has an internal cause—stroke, infection, cut-off of oxygen, toxic substances. Effects can be physical (balance, fatigue, headache); cognitive (attention, memory, language); behavioral (aggression, lack of emotional control, impulsiveness, low frustration tolerance); and psych0social (irritability, anxiety, depression, hostility).
Falls. Martha concentrated on falls, which account for 52% of brain injuries in people over 65.
Risk Factors: a previous fall, physical or visual limitations, more than one chronic disease, more than four medications, trouble thinking or remembering, lower body weakness, and home hazards such as loose rugs.
Prevention. Make your home safer, begin a regular exercise program, read medication labels, get a vision check and make sure glasses fit properly.
If you fall and hit your head … Get immediate medical attention if you experience: seizures/convulsions; pupils are different sizes; blood or liquid from nose or ears; repeated vomiting; severe headaches that get worse; loss of consciousness; confusion, agitation, restlessness; weakness or numbness in arms or legs; slurred speech or trouble swallowing; trouble breathing. If you take blood thinners, see a doctor even if you have no symptoms.
Plenty of sleep, rest and avoiding strenuous physical or mental activities are the best ways to recover from continued milder symptoms such as problems with memory, vision, balance, headaches, fatigue, taste or smell and depression.
The Brain Injury Association of Virginia has an information clearinghouse and a network of support groups :[http://www.biav.net/ or call 1-800-444-6443. Martha Hall leads a support group that meets the second Tuesday each month, from 10:30 – 12 at Bay Transit. Contact Martha at 804-394-4180 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seniors and Brain Injury 2 Triad – PowerPoint slides from the presentation