March Brings Awareness to Brain Injuries Affecting Thousands of Iowans

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Wednesday, Governor Kim Reynolds signs a proclamation designating March as Brain Injury Awareness month in Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said more than 17,000 Iowans receive medical attention for a brain injury every year.

Iowa Department of Public Health Brain Injury and Disability Program Manager, Maggie Ferguson said, “It can be considered an acquired brain injury which is the umbrella term for all brain injuries or traumatic brain injury where there has been that direct injury to the brain.”

Ferguson said brain injuries can be caused by strokes and lack of oxygen to the brain, but most commonly, they are caused by sports injuries, motor vehicle crashes and falls.

“This time of year falls are really prevalent and so those slips on the ice or wet surface. So really making sure that you are careful when you are out and about,” Ferguson said.

The IDPH describes brain injuries as the “silent epidemic” because they are not always visible to others but could still cause problems in people’s lives.

“Issues with cognition or thinking, so like memory and judgment, it could be disturbances in their sleep or wakefulness, so having trouble sleeping or staying awake. It could be emotional issues so being very quick to anger or crying easily,” Ferguson said.

In a survey of people with brain injuries, the IDPH found one of the biggest problems was the lack of understanding about the issues people with brain injuries experience.

”Frustrating to not be understood. Especially when you look fine on the outside but you’re really struggling with judgment or your emotions, just having those normal interactions you may have sensory overload just being in a crowd,” Ferguson said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health partners with the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa to provide resources to the more than 95,000 Iowans living with long-term disability from brain injury.

For more information on brain injuries, including resources on medical funding, visit the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa website.