June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE

COMMEN-TERRY: Brain injuries are more common than most people realize

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month

It’s hard to imagine anyone in their 50s who has not had some sort of brain injury at some point in their lives.

Some – like myself – have had more than others.

Most of mine were sports-related. At 13 I had such a severe concussion from a hockey game that I spent more than a week in hospital.

In my 30s, it was baseball. A collision in centre field, when my head inadvertently met with another fielder’s elbow, as we both charged for a “gapper” to left-centre. (By that time, I had already lost an eye – also a sports injury – so I literally didn’t see him coming.)

I’ve had a couple of non-sports-related concussions as well, of the milder sort, where consciousness was not lost.

Looking back, it’s a wonder I’m not more damaged than I am!

The big one for me, however, had nothing to do with sports. In 2017, I started having some balance issues, and thanks to the insistence of my physiotherapist wife, our doctor ordered a CT scan. It was discovered I had a substantial brain bleed – a subdural hematoma. (As a chronic bleed, it had been going on for some time. We will never know how it happened.)

Emergency brain surgery was performed, and remarkably, I have had a near-full recovery.

Indeed, there are some lingering effects, but most people would not notice them.

Those closest to me can spot them easily enough. I often struggle to find the right word, when speaking. Oddly, this does not happen with the written word. It’s been explained to me that the reason for this is because I use a different part of my brain for writing. Thank goodness.

My balance is still an issue, and my concentration levels may never return to what they were before… which has basically ruined my already bad golf game.

And yet, I am one of the fortunate ones.

I know many people whose brain injuries have been much more debilitating than mine. I have family members still struggling mightily with post-concussion syndrome, more than a year after their incidents.

I know people who have died from the same type of injury I had in 2017.

So yes, I am fortunate.

Why the article?

Well, if you’ll excuse the 400-word segue, it’s to inform readers that June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada.

According to braininjurycanada.com, the purpose of Brain Injury Awareness Month is “to increase awareness about the prevalence of brain injury; the obstacles that exist for those with brain injury; and the need for more services and support at all stages of recovery.”

How common are brain injuries in Canada? Remarkably common.

On average, 452 people suffer a serious brain injury every day in Canada. This amounts to one person injured with a traumatic brain injury every three minutes.

Brain injury occurs at a rate of 500 out of 100,000 individuals yearly in Canada. From a population of 33 million, that translates to 165,000 serious brain injuries per year – and that rate does not include mild concussions!

In fact, brain injury occurs at a yearly rate greater than that of all known cases of multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, HIV/AIDS and breast cancer combined. (Source: Northern Brain Injury Society)

Of considerable concern is the correlation between brain injury and incarceration.

According to the NBIA, experts estimate that as many as 80 per cent of people in prisons have untreated acquired brain injuries, with most injuries happening before any crime was committed. “Untreated brain injury often leads to ‘self-medication’ using substances, drugs and alcohol,” says an NBIA report. “Self-medication often leads to crime.”

Statistics show that the majority of brain injuries are the result of vehicle collisions, workplace accidents, falls, and sports. It’s estimated that 90 per cent of all brain injuries are preventable.

So the good news is, most brain injuries can be avoided. Wearing a seatbelt while driving, a hard hat at work, and proper headgear for sports, can significantly reduce the risk of obtaining a severe brain injury. Please consider this the next time you think about hopping on your bike, scooter or skateboard without a helmet. Maybe helmets aren’t cool. But you know what’s really not cool? A severe brain injury. It could change your life. Or worse – end it.

So buckle up. Strap up. Be safe.

Life is short enough as it is. There’s no need to shorten it unnecessarily.

Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record.

ColumnistComox Valley

Just Posted

Langley Lake supplies the drinking water for Union Bay. File photo by Bob Ell
Comox Valley board wants to halt Union Bay-area logging plans

Regional district inviting forest company to work on watershed plan

Corwin Fox performs on the grounds of the Courtenay and District Fish & Game Club for a 2021 Vancouver Island MusicFest segment, with the iconic Comox Glacier in the background. The 2021 festival will feature numerous outdoor segments, highlighting the beauty of the Comox Valley. Photo via Island MusicFest
2021 Vancouver Island MusicFest format will showcase the beauty of the Comox Valley

The 2021 Vancouver Island MusicFest -The Virtual Edition - will be like… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo
Comox takes step closer to finalizing Northeast Comox Storm Water Management Plan

“(This has been a) tremendous work in progress for many years”

John Marinus’s daughter, Margaret McCormack, and his wife Denise were out Saturday afternoon to help the Rotary Club of Comox move some tickets for the upcoming Ducky 500, known this year as the John Marinus Memorial Ducky 500. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Rotary Club of Comox Ducky Run tickets still available

Event has been rechristened as the John Marinus Memorial Ducky 500

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read