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Brain Injury Awareness: Mild Bumps Can Have Big Consequences

Car accidents and sports injuries aren’t the only causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI), seemingly harmless falls and bumps to the head can be just as damaging.  “Even a ‘ding,’ ‘getting your bell rung,’ or what seems to be a mild bump or blow can be serious,” warns a brochure from the CDC about the dangers of concussion. As part of National Brain Injury Awareness Month, GiveForward encourages you to “mind your mind.”

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, 1.7 million people sustain a TBI each year and 3.1 million people live with life-long disability as a result of the TBI. Since their brains are still developing, concussions can have a more serious effect on children. TBI is the leading cause of death and disability for children between the ages of 0-4. An average of 475,000 children (ages 0-19) per a year sustain brain injuries, 62,000 of which require hospitalization.

The financial repercussions of brain injury can be just as dire as the physical ones. Brain injuries can be detrimental if not treated promptly. There is no single indicator of TBI so you should get examined, even if you’re only displaying a few concussion symptoms. It may be in your best interest to get a MRI or CT scan, but these tests and other treatments can be expensive.

In moderate cases of TBI, extensive care is needed both directly after the injury and throughout the recovery process.   Multiple tests and therapy to re-learn basic skills may be necessary.  Average hospital stays for a TBI cost around $8,000 per a day. In severe cases, the patient may require long-term care.  The range for residential post-actute recovery centers is about $850 to $2,500 per a day.  Even with insurance, affording care can be a struggle.  The out-of-pocket costs from co-pays, deductibles and living expenses add up quickly.

Family and friends of Anuradha Mitra had to be nearly as persistent about fundraising as Anu has been about her recovery.   After suffering severe brain trauma and other debilitating injuries when she was stuck by a bus on her way home from her internship, her community came together using a GiveForward page to help raise money to pay for the out-of-pocket costs associated with Anu’s accident.  These unexpected expenses are significant because Anu is an international graduate student from India and has limited health insurance. The doctors kept telling Anu’s family “no.”  “No, she won’t live through tonight…”  “No, she won’t show any brain activity…” “No, she won’t wake up…”  Countless times Anu has proven them wrong and now she is well on the road to recovery.   A torrent of love and support has resulted from her family’s fundraising efforts; they are over halfway to their goal of $50,000.

After experiencing TBI, people may need special equipment to help with their recovery. Power wheelchairs, wheel-chair accessible vehicles,  and home alterations such as ramps and door widening are just a few. The family of Thomas “Tommy” Hopkins Jr.  a veteran who sustained a TBI while serving overseas is fundraising to help with medical equipment.  Tommy is fortunate because the VA hospital treating him has a program to hire his wife as a full time caregiver, typically this expense is the responsibility of the family. But the cost for the equipment he needs to ensure mobility and accessibility in his day-to-day life is up to him and his family.

Even if your insurance covers basic caregiving, rehabilitation treatments may be outside the provider’s scope. The family of Tibor Zahajszky, a compassionate family physician and talented artist, are experiencing this gap in coverage first hand and have turned to GiveFoward for help. Tibor suffered a TBI in August of 2011 and is showing good progress toward his recovery.  Doctors have recommended a neuro-rehabilitation program–but the family would have to pay out-of-pocket, costing upwards of $100,000.  Additionally both Tibor and his wife (who is caring for him full time) are unable to work.

Online fundraisers like the ones created by Anu’s, Tommy’s and Tibor’s families can make a significant difference in a TBI victim’s access to treatment and therefore the progress of their recovery.   For more information about National Brain Injury Awareness Month visit the Brain Injury Association website. If you know someone who has suffered a brain injury, you can visit to start a fundraiser to help them pay for their out-of-pocket expenses.

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