National Concussion Day: Raising Awareness for Traumatic Brain Injuries
Updated: Sep 18
September 15th holds a special significance for those who have experienced traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). On this day, known as National Concussion Day or National Concussion Awareness Day, we collectively recognize and shed light on the challenges, triumphs, and ongoing struggles faced by TBI survivors. This annual observance serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of raising awareness about concussions and their far-reaching effects, not only for those directly impacted but also for society at large.
Understanding the Impact of TBIs
Before delving into the significance of National Concussion Day, it's essential to understand what traumatic brain injuries are and the profound impact they can have on individuals' lives.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
A traumatic brain injury, commonly referred to as a TBI, occurs when a sudden, external force injures the brain. TBIs can range from mild concussions to severe brain injuries, with symptoms and outcomes varying widely. They can result from a variety of incidents, including sports-related injuries, vehicle accidents, falls, and acts of violence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state concussions stand out as the most frequently diagnosed form of TBI and account for more than three-quarters of the 2.8 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) reported annually.
The Silent Epidemic
TBIs are often referred to as the "silent epidemic" because they can be challenging to diagnose and may not exhibit visible external signs. The effects of TBIs can manifest in numerous ways, including cognitive, emotional, and physical impairments.
The Importance of National Concussion Day
National Concussion Day plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about TBIs, and its significance extends beyond those directly affected. Here are some key reasons why this day is crucial:
Educating the General Population: While TBIs profoundly impact the lives of survivors and their loved ones, they can often go unnoticed or misunderstood by the general population. National Concussion Day serves as an educational platform to inform people about the prevalence, causes, and effects of TBIs, fostering empathy and understanding.
National Concussion Awareness Day is the perfect opportunity to test your knowledge about the most common type of TBI. Let's dispel some myths:
You don't have to lose consciousness to have a concussion; they temporarily alter how the brain functions, which may include a brief loss of consciousness, altered consciousness, or even feeling dazed.
A blow to the head is not the only cause of concussions; sudden changes in speed, even without head impact, can result in a concussion. For instance, whiplash or blast injuries can shake the brain inside the skull, causing damage.
Not having a headache doesn't mean you're fine; while headaches are a common symptom of concussions, there are various other physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms, such as irritability, fatigue, balance issues, sleep disturbances, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and concentration or memory difficulties. Some symptoms warrant immediate medical attention, including slurred speech, seizures, double vision, weakness or numbness, decreased alertness, disorientation, unusual behavior, repeated vomiting, and a feeling that something is amiss.
Concussions don't only happen on the battlefield or sports arena. Even for active duty military, the majority occur during activities like contact sports, military training, or vehicular accidents.
Concussion symptoms can appear immediately after the injury or gradually over the following 48 hours. Fortunately, they often resolve within days or weeks.
Most people fully recover from a concussion, particularly if it's their first one. However, recovery time varies depending on individual factors, the nature of the injury, history of concussions or migraines, and associated conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, or substance-use disorder.
Advocating for Timely Diagnosis and Treatment: One of the primary goals of this day is to stress the importance of early diagnosis and appropriate medical intervention. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion and seeking prompt medical attention can significantly impact the course of recovery.
Supporting TBI Survivors and Their Families: For individuals and families dealing with the aftermath of a TBI, knowing that there is a dedicated day of recognition can provide a sense of belonging and solidarity. It reminds them that they are not alone in their journey to recovery.
Promoting Preventative Measures: National Concussion Day also emphasizes the significance of preventive measures, especially in sports and recreational activities. This includes proper safety gear, adherence to rules, and awareness of the risks associated with certain activities.
Encouraging Ongoing Research and Innovation: TBIs are complex and multifaceted injuries that require ongoing research and innovation. This day highlights the need for continued exploration into the causes, treatments, and long-term effects of TBIs.
Why Being Informed About TBIs Is Crucial
Understanding traumatic brain injuries and their effects is not only vital for those who have suffered TBIs or their caregivers but for everyone. Here's why being informed about TBIs is of paramount importance:
Early Intervention Saves Lives: TBIs, especially severe ones, can be life-threatening. Knowing the signs and symptoms allows for early intervention, which can be life-saving.
Improved Treatment Outcomes: Timely diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve the chances of recovery and reduce the long-term impact of a TBI.
Safety Awareness: Being informed about the causes of TBIs, such as sports injuries or car accidents, encourages individuals to take safety precautions, reducing the risk of injury in the first place.
Support and Empathy: Knowledge about TBIs fosters empathy and understanding. Knowing what TBI survivors go through helps friends, family members, and communities provide better support.
Promoting Research: Awareness of TBIs leads to increased support for research efforts, potentially leading to better treatments, therapies, and preventive measures.
TBIs and the Military
National Concussion Awareness Day brings into sharp focus the critical issue of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), not only within the general population but specifically within the military community. TBIs are often referred to colloquially as having your "bell rung," getting knocked out, or seeing stars, but in medical terms, they signify a traumatic brain injury.
The military population is particularly vulnerable to TBIs, with nearly 459,000 service members worldwide diagnosed with a first-time TBI between 2000 and the first quarter of 2022, according to the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence (TBICoE), which compiles comprehensive TBI-related data for the Department of Defense.
Concussions constitute over 80% of these injuries, making them the predominant type of TBI among active-duty personnel. Unfortunately, the military's "mission-first" mentality sometimes leads service members to downplay or disregard symptoms, prioritizing their duties over their well-being. Retired Marine Corps Capt. William Greeson, who experienced a brain injury after a long military career, noted that this attitude is particularly prevalent among "military alphas" who often say, "I'm going to go out front, I'm going to lead, I'm going to get it done, and we'll talk about this later." Yet, "later" often never arrives (Military Health System).
TBICoE believes that addressing TBIs should be a priority and not an afterthought. Apart from researching TBIs in service members and veterans, TBICoE offers training on TBI diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. For more information on all types of TBIs, as well as provider resources and support for service members, veterans, families, and caregivers, visit TBICoE. Additionally, explore real stories of recovery and hope through A Head for the Future, TBICoE's TBI awareness initiative.
National Concussion Day and Power of Patients®: Making a Difference
National Concussion Day serves as a beacon of hope and a call to action. It reminds us that by coming together and raising awareness, we can make a real difference in the lives of TBI survivors. One organization that embodies this spirit is Power of Patients®.
Power of Patients® is dedicated to empowering individuals with brain injuries and their caregivers. Their mission is to reshape the clinical trial process, ensuring that patients receive the resources and support they need for recovery. By recognizing the uniqueness of each brain injury and providing a platform for patients and caregivers to track their progress, Power of Patients® is helping to accelerate clinical trials and improve the lives of those impacted by TBIs.
Other Ways to Take Action
National Concussion Awareness Day® on September 15, 2023, holds a unique distinction—it is a registered trademark recognized by the US Patent and Trademark Office. If you're interested in hosting National Concussion Awareness Day in your community or state, there are numerous impactful ways to raise awareness and foster understanding about concussions.
One effective approach is to secure airtime for Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on your local radio or television stations. We offer sample PSA scripts for your convenience, or you can utilize our professionally voiced PSA, which is available free of charge.
Consider organizing a community event, such as a showing of a concussion documentary at your public library. "Head Games" is a recommended documentary, and you can inquire about renting it for public viewings by contacting email@example.com.
Engage with local concussion experts to host informational meetings on September 16th, tailored for parents, athletes, teachers, and coaches. This initiative aims to disseminate vital information and best practices in concussion management.
Collaborate with your state's Brain Injury Association to host a local fundraiser, supporting efforts to raise funds and awareness within your community.
Harness the power of social media to amplify your message, whether it's sharing personal concussion stories, spreading awareness, or mobilizing support for concussion baseline testing.
Reach out to your local newspaper to share your personal experiences or expertise on concussions, contributing to the broader conversation and understanding of this critical issue.
Print and distribute materials from the CDC's Heads Up Concussion Program to local sports groups, civic organizations, and programs that serve children. Visit www.CDC.gov/headsup for valuable resources that can help educate and protect our youth from the risks of concussions.
Let’s Raise Awareness, Together!
As we observe National Concussion Day on September 15th, let us remember the importance of raising awareness about traumatic brain injuries. Whether you have personally experienced a TBI, know someone who has, or are part of the broader community, your understanding and support matter.
By educating ourselves and others, advocating for early diagnosis and treatment, and supporting organizations like Power of Patients®, we can contribute to a future where TBIs are better understood, more effectively treated, and ultimately, prevented. National Concussion Day is not just a day of reflection; it's a day of action and hope for a brighter future for TBI survivors and their families.
We’re Here to Help
While we at Power of Patients® wish we could fully eliminate the need for National Concussion Awareness Day by eliminating TBI occurrences entirely, life is unpredictable and no matter the precautions we take to mitigate risk, TBIs will sadly always be a possibility. While we can’t eradicate TBIs for good, we can provide TBI survivors and caregivers with a ground-breaking online tool to help best manage these conditions.
We are also committed to driving research in both fields. Power of Patients® is especially concerned in improving the welfare of those suffering from debilitating symptoms, caused by TBIs.
Using the Power of Patients® customized symptom tracker to track one’s symptoms and healing will not only help you and your clinician to better understand your symptoms in a broader context, but it will also give Power of Patients® the opportunity to use your information to study effective treatments for TBI patients. Overall, it is a win-win situation for patients, caregivers, clinicians, and medical researchers.
See how the Power of Patients® symptom tracker can help you or your loved one today! We are here with you through every step of your journey.