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March is brain injury month in New Jersey

Brain injuries affect a substantial number of Americans. In New Jersey alone, about one-third of all fatal injuries and 10% of injuries requiring hospitalization are related to TBIs. However, many New Jersey readers might associate traumatic brain injury with NFL players, partly because brain injuries affecting ordinary citizens may not make the news. For that reason, brain injuries might be characterized as a silent epidemic.

Yet brain injuries affect more Americans than other, more newsworthy disabilities, such as breast cancer and HIV/AIDs combined. Events throughout New Jersey dedicated to Brain Injury awareness might help change that.

The trauma that can follow in the aftermath of a brain injury or disease is sometimes neglected. One health worker knows that from personal experience: She suffered a minor stroke at the age of 38. Although over 12 years have passed since the incident, the worker admits that her right arm and hand are still not functioning at full capacity. As a result, she still can have difficulty doing ordinary tasks like organizing folders or sorting through correspondence. In addition, she doesn't drive at night because the stroke also affected her right eye.

The health worker is a new type of rehabilitation specialist for victims of brain injuries. Called a brain injury coach, she develops individualized recovery strategies for patients, helping them to once again perform the duties required by their daily routines or jobs.

For workers recovering from a brain injury, the road to recovery might be similarly long. Although such individuals may outwardly appear fine, they may struggle to perform work duties because of a host of symptoms, such as memory loss, concentration issues, and even personality changes. Until a brain injury victim is able to function in the workplace, federal assistance in the form of Social Security disability insurance benefits might provide a respite. An attorney can explain the often-complicated SSDI application procedures.

Source: nj.com, "Gear up for Brain Injury awareness month with Opportunity Project in Millburn," March 6, 2013

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