Michael F. Easley
Governor

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Carmen Hooker Odom
Secretary

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: February 28, 2007

  Contact: Mark Van Sciver

March Is Brain Injury Awareness Month In North Carolina

RALEIGH ¬– Every 15 seconds in this country, someone receives a brain injury. Today, there are more than 5 million Americans permanently affected by a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that has left them needing some degree of help just to perform everyday activities most take for granted.

In keeping with national observances, Gov. Mike Easley has proclaimed March as Brain Injury Awareness Month in North Carolina.

According to Flo Stein, chief of Community Policy Management for the N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, TBI survivors often have significant long-term disabilities and medical complications after receiving a brain injury. A TBI is caused by external physical force. It usually happens when the head hits something – a windshield during a car crash, the sidewalk during a fall or the bullet from a gun. Shaking a baby can cause a TBI. Symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of brain damage.

“The statistics for traumatic brain injuries should be a wakeup call for all of us. In North Carolina alone, more than160,000 experienced a TBI. In 2004, over 5,000 of these injuries required hospitalization, which cost over $190 million,” Stein said. “TBI costs the country more than $56 billion in lost wages, hospital costs and long-term care. Half of all TBI’s involve alcohol use and more than 50 percent of these injuries occur in a transportation-related accident.”

Stein calls TBI a hidden epidemic, noting that medical experts cite traumatic brain injuries as the signature wound of the Iraq war. Troops now routinely wear body armor that allows them to survive once-deadly attacks but does not fully protect their heads against roadside explosives and suicide bombers.

TBI facts:

  • Every 15 seconds, a U.S. citizen receives a brain injury.
  • Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to have a TBI.
  • 20 percent of TBI's are caused by violence, including firearm assaults and child abuse.
  • Approximately 50,000 people die every year from brain injuries.
  • Approximately 1 million brain-injured people are treated in hospital emergency rooms.
  • One in 500 children is hospitalized with a brain injury.

For more information about TBI services in North Carolina, contact Sandy Ellsworth, N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services TBI program at 919-715-2774 or on the web at www.ncdhhs.gov/mhddsas or The Brain Injury Association of North Carolina at 919-833-9634 or 800-377-1464 or on the web at www.bianc.net.

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Debbie Crane
Director