March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, so it is a great time to discuss how brain injuries occur, how they affect people’s lives and how people with brain injuries can get the support they need.
There are two types of brain injuries: traumatic brain injury (TBI) and acquired brain injury (ABI). As you may have guessed, TBI is caused by an external force that causes brain damage when the brain moves inside of the skull or the skull is damaged. When most people think about brain injuries, they think of TBI.
Causes of TBI include car accidents, falls, blows to the head, sports injuries and physical violence.
However, ABI is a common type of brain injury as well and is caused at the cellular level. It is most often linked to pressure on the brain, which can be caused by medical issues such as a tumor or a neurological illness like a stroke.
Other causes of ABI include infections, surgical errors, poisoning, strangulation, drowning, choking, use of illegal drugs and aneurysm.
One important note about both TBI and ABI is that neither form of injury is degenerative. That means they don’t continue to cause decline or deterioration after they occur. They are also not caused by genetics or trauma suffered to the brain during birth. These injuries occur after birth only.
Brain injuries can have a wide spectrum of symptoms and effects, depending on the severity of the injury and the damage it caused. A milder brain injury may only cause headaches and could completely go away in time. A more severe brain injury can be life-changing and lead to cognitive, behavioral and physical disabilities.
People with severe brain injuries often need significant support in order to continue living their lives, including medical and rehabilitative support, psychological and emotional support, and financial support.
One way people with brain injuries can get the financial support they need is by applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Certain requirements must be met in order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and you can read more about the application process here.