Category: The Journey Written by Mark Palmer
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control estimates that 1.1 million people in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. Of this number, 50,000 die. Another 235,000 are hospitalized, and the rest are treated in an emergency room and released. But discharge from the hospital is not an indication that all is well with TBI victims. Population-based studies have found that people with TBI have an increased risk of death by suicide 3-4 times greater than the general population—a fact that reflects the many ongoing challenges TBI survivors face.
Compounding these sobering statistics, thousands of dedicated young men and women will return from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from traumatic brain injury—as many as 300,000, or 19%, according to a 2008 report by the Institute of Medicine. Like their civilian peers, they will be met by doctors, family and friends tragically unprepared to provide support—or even to realize that support is needed. Instead, TBI victims and their families will hope and pray for a “return to normal”—a return to yesterday—unaware that this hope is unrealistic, if not impossible. Worse, the discrepancy between what is hoped for and what is possible will create frustration, disappointment, bitterness, and despair.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. TBI survivors and their families —and all those who have suffered a life-threatening illness or injury—can look forward to a bright future, so long as they are prepared to build that future on who and what they are today—not who they might have been before the injury or illness.
©2010 Focus, LLC