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Brain Awareness Week: Everything You Need to Know

Did you know that your brain processes more than 70,000 thoughts every day? Brain cells called neurons pass messages from one cell to the next. But when the brain gets injured, neurons can't communicate with each other as well.

Brain Cells - Types of Cells in the Body

A neuron passing messages from one cell to the next.

The brain is almost as mysterious as the ocean. Scientists are uncovering new phenomena every day, which is why it's so important to stay in the loop. That's why Brain Awareness Week is so important.

Brain Awareness Week is a time to learn more about the three-pound machine that is your brain. Check out this guide to Brain Awareness Week and learn about how we're supporting it through our free app for TBI patients.

The History of Brain Awareness Week

About the Dana Alliances | Dana Foundation

The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) started Brain Awareness Week in 1996. Participants can receive funding from DABI's philanthropy arm, the Dana Foundation.

DABI is a non-profit organization based in New York City. It has the goal of furthering brain research through education. DABI members include some of the world's most well-known neuroscientists.

In the beginning, only US scholars and organizations recognized Brain Awareness Week. However, Brain Awareness Week has since expanded to become a global initiative bringing together over 120 different countries.

Today, Brain Awareness Week isn't just limited to neurosciences. Colleges, hospitals, schools, research groups, and more have become partners in raising awareness about brain science.

The ultimate goal of Brain Awareness Week is still to foster an understanding of brain science, especially where it intersects with law, policy, and the arts.

Brain Awareness Week Activities and Events

The Dana Foundation provides grants to fund events and activities its partners put on. That means Brain Awareness Week partners put on events in locations across the country — and the world.

Using this calendar, you can search for Brain Awareness Week activities and events near you. For instance, if you live in New York, you'll see that there's an event going on right now! Vichar: an Exploration of Dance and Science takes place online at 11 a.m.

As we mentioned, you can apply for grants to put on your own events. The Dana Foundation doesn't restrict these events to any particular time of year. You can apply for funding at any time.

On the Brain Awareness Week website, you'll see resources to help you plan your event. These resources include event ideas and tools you can use to market your event. You can also post an event on the Brain Awareness Week's calendar to attract more eyeballs.

Further, the website gives you access to lesson plans, fun puzzles and quizzes, and brain science fact sheets to hand out at your event. And don't forget to submit your photos to the Brain Awareness Week gallery! The website will feature images from your event.

How Power of Patients Supports the Brain Sciences

At Power of Patients, we've made it our mission to help empower people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). That's why we're proud to be a Brain Awareness Week partner.

Like DABI, we want to support the brain research industry. Here's how we do it.

The Traumatic Brain Injury App

As many as 40% of TBIs and concussions go undetected on brain injury screenings. One of the reasons for this tragic phenomenon is the lack of data from clinical trials.

Clinical research studying brain injuries is notoriously complex. For example, the patient's age, overall health, location, and severity of the damage can change the way TBIs present symptomatically.

Further, it's well-known that many doctors misdiagnose TBIs early on. This issue can lead to a large lag between the event of injury and the actual date of diagnosis. And this gap in time between onset and diagnosis can further complicate the results of a clinical trial.

That's where our app for TBI comes in.

Dashboard mockup

The Power of Patients Dashboard, names Sallie®.

The free Power of Patients dashboard allows you to track your symptoms. You can then share that data with your healthcare provider. Additionally, you can compare your symptoms to other survivors of brain injury.

Plus, the app gives you access to our educational webinars. These webinars will teach you about brain science, TBIs, and concussions, as well as new clinical trials and experimental therapies you may be eligible for.

How Our App Supports Providers and Researchers

The World Health Organization (WHO) is making a big push for mobile health (mHealth). It wants the healthcare industry to prioritize digital health tech, especially when it can support personalized health care.

What is personalized health care? It's an approach to medicine that puts emphasis on the individual experience. Personalized health care takes into account a patient's unique symptomatology and disease progression.

The Power of Patients dashboard allows providers to do just that.

Share your report

Example of customized reports generated through real-time patient data.

You get access to patient data in real-time. This information is tailored to your patient's unique experience of brain injury, allowing for an equally as tailored plan for treating brain issues.

If you work in an outpatient rehabilitation setting, our app can also help. You can track patients' individual progress to optimize recovery timelines and improve brain health.

Finally, our app helps connect people suffering from brain injuries with the clinical researchers who want to recruit them. Our data warehouse also provides the option to obtain low-cost patient information almost instantly, speeding up the pipeline for clinical research studies.

What Is a TBI?

Now that we've discussed Brain Awareness Week and how we support it, we'd like to provide more understanding of TBIs. Whether a physician recently diagnosed you with TBI or you're looking to support a loved one, this information can help.

The most commonly known type of TBI is a concussion. Doctors typically consider concussions as mild TBIs that occur after a blow, jolt, or bump to the head. Concussions are common among athletes and professional fighters.

Moderate to severe TBIs result from more intense blows, jolts, and bumps to the head. So-called penetrating TBIs can occur after something pierces the skull. For example, a bullet entering the brain could cause disability, coma, or even death.

In all of these cases, the penetration of or blow to the head results in brain damage. Penetrating TBIs tend to injure only a portion of the brain. Meanwhile, blunt TBIs shake the whole brain, leading to a more global injury.

What Do TBIs Do to the Brain?

A TBI affects the brain in two ways. First, it produces actual changes in the brain. These changes, in turn, lead to physical and behavioral shifts.

Let's discuss the physical and behavioral symptoms of TBI first.

After a TBI, people often report experiencing headaches, blurred or double vision, vomiting, dizziness, tinnitus, and light sensitivity. Seizures and pupil dilation are also common.

TBIs affect the brain, and the brain controls many of our behaviors. This brain-behavior connection is the reason why many people experience mood, sleep, and memory disturbances after a TBI. Unfortunately, while many of the physical symptoms of a TBI go away, these behavioral changes can persist.

Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment | Healing Damage | Peak States

Varying TBI Symptoms

All of these symptoms result from brain damage. We can divide types of brain damage into two categories: primary and secondary injuries.

Primary effects after a TBI include brain or skull bleeding, bruising, and swelling. The most commonly injured brain area after penetrative or non-penetrative TBI is white matter. The brain's white matter enables communication from one brain cell to the other.

Sometimes, these primary effects can lead to secondary effects.

Hemorrhagic progression of a contusion (HPC), for instance, can happen if brain bleeding never stops. Blood isn't good for the brain, so this extended bleeding can cause further brain damage.

Extended brain swelling can cause intracranial pressure. This extra swelling can prevent oxygen from flowing to portions of the brain. Oxygen deprivation may then lead to further brain damage.

Finally, TBIs can lead to damage to the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier helps filter out toxins from the blood before it enters the central nervous system. If this barrier gets damaged, toxic compounds can enter the brain, which can cause brain damage and even death.

The good news is that Power of Patients can help increase awareness around and understanding of TBIs. That way, we can prevent these negative symptoms and help TBI sufferers live long, healthy lives.

Create a Free Power of Patients Account

Brain Awareness Week may have already happened this year, but it's never too late to hold your own event. Join us in celebrating the human brain and helping educate people on TBIs and their effects.

Want to start sharing your TBI symptoms with providers and researchers? Create your free account and download the Power of Patients app!