Celebrating Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain injury is often referred to as an “invisible” injury or disability since the effects of the injury are not always visible or immediately evident. However, to anyone who has suffered a brain injury, or to those that care about someone who has, the effects of brain injury are complex and can pervade many aspects of the individual’s life. Brain injury can be difficult to understand, the symptoms can be significant, and the rehabilitation process can be extensive. We are proud to join brain injury survivors, caregivers, and supporters in celebrating Brain Injury Awareness Month. For decades, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has led a nationwide public awareness campaign during the month of March to de-stigmatize brain injury through outreach and education.
According to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI), in Michigan alone, 58,500 people sustain a brain injury each year. The truth is that no one plans for a brain injury, but brain injuries can happen to anyone, at any time. Please join us this month as we spread awareness and educate others on the definition of brain injury, its causes, and where to seek proper rehabilitative care.

What is a Brain Injury?

Just as there are no two people alike, no two brain injuries are the same. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth; these injuries are not a result of heredity, nor are they congenital or degenerative. There are two types of acquired brain injuries, non-traumatic and traumatic. A non-traumatic brain injury is caused by damage to the brain by internal factors, such as lack of oxygen, exposure to toxins, pressure from a tumor, and so on. A traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain that is caused by an outside force or impact that is sudden and damaging.

Common Causes of Brain Injury

  • Stroke
  • Anoxia/hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain)
  • Neurotoxic poisoning (ingestion of insecticides, solvents, lead)
  • Tumors
  • Virus/infection
  • Seizures
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Struck by an object
  • Sports
  • Improvised Explosive Device (IED)
  • Assault

Brain Injury Recovery

Following a brain injury, it is imperative to receive the proper rehabilitative care. Brain injury survivors can experience an array of cognitive, physical, and emotional/behavioral challenges. These symptoms can often concur feelings of hopelessness in survivors and caregivers, but there is hope. The goal of brain injury rehabilitation is to maximize function and encourage survivors to achieve their fullest potential. Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center brings together a team of experts from the following disciplines including physiatry, psychiatry, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, recreational therapy, rehabilitation nursing, vocational, and more in order to tailor a care plan to the needs of each survivor. The rehabilitation journey begins with a thorough assessment to identify the individual’s exact needs and goals. At Origami, survivors and their support systems are an essential part of the interdisciplinary team and the rehabilitation journey. It is important brain injury survivors and caregivers know they are not alone on this journey. If you have a question about brain injury or if you are interested in learning more about brain injury rehabilitation, please visit our website at origamirehab.org or call us at 517-336-6060. For those looking for support, visit BIAMI's Support Group page or call them at (800) 444-6443. Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Lansing, Michigan. Origami provides comprehensive rehabilitation care for survivors of brain injuries and their families. Through their compassionate and innovative services, Origami creates opportunities and transforms lives.

What is Therapeutic Recreation?

February is National Therapeutic Recreation Month. If you’re wondering what therapeutic recreation is, you’re not alone. It’s the question recreational therapists get asked the most! Therapeutic recreation uses recreational and leisure activities to promote well-being and overall fitness with the goal of improving, maintaining or restoring physical strength, cognition, and mobility for individuals with a disability or illness. Recreational therapists get to know each patient and what motivates them so they can participate in enjoyable leisure activities to address functional skills for recovery. In a rehabilitation setting, recreational therapists work closely with a patient’s rehabilitation team to help them achieve their therapy goals. Recreational therapy, as it’s also known, encompasses a wide array of activities that focus on community integration, exercise and strength training, sports specific adaptations, and aquatic therapy/aquatic exercise. An activity is considered recreational therapy when it’s used as a treatment modality to maximize skill development and improve quality of life. For example, participating in a leisure activity in the community may increase life satisfaction while also connecting a person to community resources, improving time and money management skills, and increasing confidence in getting from one place to another. Recreational therapy can be very beneficial for a person who has sustained a TBI. After a brain injury, a person may experience various lifestyle changes which may include a decrease in leisure participation, increase in free time, loss of income, decrease in social skills which affects old friendships and establishing new ones, a shift to more sedentary activities, and less social activities. Experiencing these changes can have a negative impact on life satisfaction and quality of life. When an individual is ready to return to leisure interests, recreational therapy can address these changes to help individuals find new ways to enjoy life which also positively impacts the recovery process. Kristin Claerhout, CTRS, CBIS
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Special Tree Rehabilitation System
Brain + Spinal Cord Rehabilitation

How to Decrease Your Risk of Falling Following a Brain Injury

Along with ringing in the New Year, January is sure to bring plenty of snow and ice! The onset of slippery conditions can cause an increase in incidences of falls. Though the majority of falls only result in mild injuries such as muscle soreness or bruising, approximately 10% of falls result in a trip to the emergency department. Some falls may be unavoidable, but being informed of the risks and actively making changes can reduce the risk of falling. With 30-65% of people with brain injuries reporting balance deficits at some point during recover, it is especially important for survivors to be aware of the facts that make them more susceptible to falling. Factors to Consider: Are you over 65 years old? Approximately 1 out of 4 people over the age of 65 experience a fall every year, with falls being the leading cause of injuries in this population. Do you take multiple medications? Individual medications or interactions between multiple medications may cause an increase in risk of falling. Researchers have found that certain classes of medications including sedatives and antidepressants may contribute to increased falls risk. If you notice an increase in falls with the start of a new medication, be sure to contact your physician. Have you fallen more than once in the last year? Previous falls are an indicator of an increased likelihood for subsequent falls. If you have previously fallen it is very important to take preventative measures to avoid reoccurring falls. Do you have vision deficits? Vision is an important component of balance, and having vision deficits significantly increase the risk of falls. Blurred vision, double vision, and other visual impairments are common after a brain injury; therefore, it is important to follow up with your optometrist or ophthalmologist if you suspect any changes in your vision. They may make changes to your eye glasses or refer you to an occupational therapist for vision therapy. Do you have impaired sensation in your legs? It is common to experience decreased sensation or proprioception, the perception of movement and positioning of our body, following a brain injury or due to other chronic conditions such as diabetes and peripheral neuropathy. This can cause individuals to trip on objects or lose their balance. Are you depressed? Studies have shown a correlation in increased falls with depression likely due to cognitive, sensory, and motor changes that may occur with brain injuries. Consider talking to your physician, social worker, or counselor if you believe you are experiencing depression. Do you experience dizziness? Dizziness can be a symptom of many conditions including damage to the vestibular system, changes in vision, medication symptoms, or other medical conditions. If you are experiencing dizziness it is advised to consult with your physician. They may refer you to an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist, ophthalmologist or to a vestibular physical therapist depending on the cause. Are you mostly inactive? A decrease in activity can lead to poor cardiovascular endurance and flexibility, as well as weakened muscles, which can increase your risk for falls. Ask your physician if you are able to participate in a regular exercise program, and consider consulting a physical therapist or another expert for a custom exercise program to meet your needs and goals. Do you experience incontinence?Incontinence is associated with an increase in falls due to impulsive and unsafe behavior occurring when a sudden urge to urinate occurs. Depending on the type of incontinence and the severity, different techniques such as utilizing caregiver assistance, bed pans, pads, or Kegels may be appropriate. A pelvic floor specialist can aid with decreasing episodes of incontinence. If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be at an increased risk for falling. Many brain injury survivors may have answered yes to many of the above questions; because of this, individuals who have experienced a brain injury have a significant increased risk of falling. Although some risk factors such as age are out of our control, many others may be modified to reduce your risk. If you believe you or a loved one is at an increased risk for falling, there are some simple modifications that can be made to decrease the risk:
  • Remove tripping hazards such as rugs or uneven thresholds in your home
  • If you use an assistive device, make sure you are using it correctly
  • Wear supportive shoes with a rubber sole to prevent shuffling feet and slipping.
  • Use night lights in order to increase visibility at night. Alert systems can be used for individuals requiring more assistance.
  • Shovel snow and apply salt to reduce the risk of slippery sidewalks
These tips can reduce your likelihood of falling and incurring an injury. If you have notice any recent changes or have questions regarding your balance, please contact your physician. References
  • Kallin, Kristina, et al. "Predisposing and precipitating factors for falls among older people in residential care." Public health 116.5 (2002): 263-271.
  • Lord, Stephen R., Hylton B. Menz, and Catherine Sherrington. "Home environment risk factors for falls in older people and the efficacy of home modifications." Age and ageing 35.suppl_2 (2006): ii55-ii59.
  • Peterson, Michelle, and Brian D. Greenwald. "Balance problems after traumatic brain injury." Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 96.2 (2015): 379-380.
  • Thurman, David J., Judy A. Stevens, and Jaya K. Rao. "Practice parameter: assessing patients in a neurology practice for risk of falls (an evidence-based review): report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology." Neurology 70.6 (2008): 473-479.
  • Woolcott, John C., et al. "Meta-analysis of the impact of 9 medication classes on falls in elderly persons." Archives of internal medicine 169.21 (2009): 1952-1960.
Emily Wolf, PT, DPT Physical Therapist, The Lighthouse Neurological Rehabilitation Center

Emily graduated from Arcadia University with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Her academic focus was primarily on treatment of adolescents and adults post-concussion. She has been practicing as a physical therapist at The Lighthouse Neurological Rehabilitation Center in Kingsley, Michigan since 2017.

Rockin’ for Rehab 2018

While Rockin’ for Rehab has always been a hugely successful event benefiting our Lansing chapter, we’re working hard to re-imagine the evening of food, drink, music, and fun so that it benefits not just Lansing, but our Flint and Tri-Cities (Saginaw/Bay City/Midland) support groups as well! More good news: We’re also exploring how to provide transportation for survivors who wish to attend Rockin’ for Rehab. Details will be shared as soon as possible, but for save-the-date purposes, this year’s Rockin’ for Rehab will be held Friday, December 7, at the Michigan State University Club from 6:30 pm – 11:30 pm. Perennial favorite Dr. Fab and his Off the Couch Band will perform your favorite hits from the 1950’s – 60’s. Admission is $65 per person. For attendees desiring hotel accommodations, a block of rooms has been set aside at the adjacent Candlewood Suites. When making reservations, be sure to use the block name “Rockin’ for Rehab-BIAMI” and enter block code “RFR” to reserve a room. Candlewood Suites reservations can be reached at (517) 351-8181.

Quality of Life Conference 2018

BIAMI is excited to announce we’re expanding this year’s Quality of Life Conference to include four new, informative, and very timely sessions. Here’s a sneak preview:
  • Dealing with Phone, Mail, and E-scams, presented by the Michigan Attorney General’s office
  • Sexuality and Relationships after a Traumatic Brain Injury, presented by Deborah Adams from Eisenhower Center
  • Healthy Eating for a Healthy Brain, with Dr. Sarah Wice and Emily White from Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation
  • Creating Your Recovery Based on Your Unique Talents, presented by Courtney Wang from Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center and survivor Barbaranne Branca.
As always, one of our major Conference objectives is to ensure all attendees have access to transportation services should they need it, regardless of location. We’ll pass along further transportation information as we line up sponsors. The Quality of Life Conference will be held November 5 at the Crown Plaza in Lansing from 9 AM to 3:00 PM. Registration is open to survivors, caregivers, and professionals, so make plans to join us for a positive and rewarding experience!

Now Showing: “Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0”

Behind every mask created for Unmasking Brain Injury is a survivor with a story to tell. Now in the second year of this important and successful program – we call it Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0 -- BIAMI has endeavored to give more survivors a chance to be seen and their stories heard. For this year’s project, BIAMI partnered with Sean Bowman from Captured Screens Productions to produce videos featuring twelve survivors and their masks. When on display, the masks will have QR codes that can be electronically scanned to pull up a video of the mask’s creator. Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0 made its official debut at the 2018 Fall Conference in mid-September. For those unfamiliar with scanning QR codes or need help downloading a QR code reader app, an instructional video is available on our YouTube channel. Soon after our 2018 Fall Conference, we began sharing these Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0 videos via social media every Wednesday and Friday. As each video is shared, it will also be made available on BIAMI’s YouTube Channel. All twelve videos will be available on our channel by October 26 and we encourage you to view as many as possible. A list of the featured videos, as well as the QR code reader instructional video and the Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0 videos as they become available, can be found on the BIAMI YouTube Channel. If you have an Unmasking Brain Injury mask and would like to participate in Unmasking Brain Injury 2.0, or would like to create a mask for the project, please contact Diane Dugan.
Dignitas
Eisenhower Center
Special Tree
Community Connections
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Lightouse Neurological Rehabilitation Center