Facing your recovery from a traumatic brain injury can be overwhelming. If you are currently suffering from a TBI, or if you are caring for a loved one who is suffering from this type of injury, you can make it easier for yourself to understand TBI and the care your loved one will need by working through chunks of information and available resources one piece at a time.
By breaking down the seemingly endless amount of information you find into smaller, digestible pieces, you can understand each on a deeper level and develop an appropriate plan to handle each TBI-related issue that crops up during your or your loved one’s recovery.
Resources & Services for TBI Victims in Illinois
A wide variety of resources and services are available for TBI victims in Illinois. Some of these are fairly general resources that can provide aid to all TBI victims. Others are more specific in their offerings, providing aid and information to individuals in specific situations such as individuals suffering from an injury sustained in the line of duty or an individual who is tasked with caring for a loved one with a TBI.
Below are some of these resources and services available to individuals in Illinois who are suffering from TBI:
Caregiver Action Network (CAN) – CAN provides caregivers with resources like peer support and education to make it easier to care for loved ones suffering from TBI and other conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Currently, more than 90 million Americans act as caregivers to their loved ones. Since 1993, CAN has provided the care and support that these caregivers frequently do not receive.
The Brain Injury Association of Illinois – This organization is a non-profit organization that exists as part of a larger national network of associations that help TBI victims and their loved ones. Since 1980, the Association has worked to advocate for TBI victims and those caring for them by facilitating conferences and other educational opportunities, working with legislators to pass legislation to help TBI victims, hosting retreats and camps for children and adults suffering from brain injuries and promoting the research of brain injuries and their treatment.
BrainLine – This is an online project by WETA, the public TV and radio station of Washington, D.C., which provides individuals across the country with information about TBI. BrainLine’s efforts to educate the public and advocate for TBI victims include an e-newsletter, weekly webcasts and partnerships with other national organizations devoted to promoting TBI research and advocating for victims.
Latest in TBI Research
We learn more about traumatic brain injuries every year. Some recent research includes:
- Four Distinct Patterns of Symptoms in Military TBI Victims – In the January/February 2016 edition of The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation – the official journal of the Brain Injury Association of America – new research conducted by Jason M. Bailie of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center was published. In this study, Bailie and his team found four specific subtypes of TBI symptoms in veterans suffering from mild TBIs sustained in combat. These findings could lead to more individualized types of treatment for TBIs.
- Long-term Cognitive, Emotional, and Behavioral Problems Faced by TBI Victims – PsychCentral published a piece about recent research by Dr. Torun Gangaune Finnanger at the Trondheim University Hospital in Norway that examined the self-reported challenges faced by moderate and severe TBI victims in the years after their accidents. The research found that, compared to healthy individuals, TBI victims suffered more psychological and emotional difficulties. The younger an individual was when his or her accident occurred, the more likely he or she was to engage in risky, rule-breaking behavior after the TBI.
- Bubbles Lead to Trauma in the Brain – Student Science recently reported on Christian Franck of Brown University’s presentation of his findings about the bubbles created in brain tissue by the vibrations of severe impact to the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s division of fluid dynamics. His team hypothesizes that these bubbles are what creates damage to the brain that results in a TBI following a traumatic impact. Understanding what causes TBI damage can help the medical industry find a way to prevent TBIs.
TBI Support Groups in Illinois
A TBI is an injury that changes a patient’s life, sometimes for the rest of his or her life. Facing such a monumental change can leave an individual and his or her caregiver feeling powerless and alone. TBI sufferers and their caregivers can find solace and support in groups like those listed below.
Stroke/Brain Injury Support Group of the Bloomington-Normal Area – Since 2007, this support group has helped individuals in the Bloomington, Illinois, area to work through the issues they face as TBI and other brain injury victims. It is supported by the Central Illinois Neuroscience Foundation.
Brain Injury Group Foundation’s List of Support Groups – This list contains links and contact information for TBI support groups throughout Illinois. It can be useful for individuals seeking a group in their geographical area or groups that fit into their schedule.
Advocate Christ Healthcare Support Groups – Advocate Healthcare has a variety of support groups for individuals suffering from TBIs and other injuries. Advocate Healthcare also has multiple hospitals throughout Illinois, making it accessible to a large range of Illinois patients.
Military & TBI
According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), members of the military have a higher risk of suffering from a TBI than civilians. This is a unique concern for the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the federal agency tasked with providing healthcare coverage and support to veterans.
Active duty and reserve service members should be aware of the specific TBI risks they face, which can be different from the risks faced by civilians. Sources for information include:
Traumatic Brain Injury Overview (Military.com) – This page describes the symptoms of a TBI, how one may suffer a TBI and what kind of VA coverage military veterans can receive for their TBI treatment. This page states that TBIs are known as the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars due to the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by opposing forces.
Veterans and Traumatic Brain Injury (Centre for Neuro Skills) – This page provides links to resources that veterans suffering from TBIs may find useful such as TriCare and the S. Department of Defense Military Health System. It also has links to relevant videos for veterans seeking treatment.
net – This resource provides active duty military members, veterans, families and health care providers with quality information about TBIs tailored to how they affect individuals involved with the US military. It also provides links to other valuable resources.
Kids & TBI
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, the two age groups most at risk of suffering TBIs are ages 0-4 and 15-19. Every year, an estimated 564,000 American children are examined in emergency room settings for TBI.
Although falls, car accidents and sports injuries are all accidents that can cause a child to suffer a TBI, approximately 1,300 children suffer this type of injury as a result of child abuse every year. You can learn more about how TBIs can affect children and their parents with these resources:
Traumatic Brain Injury (Center for Parent Information and Resources) – This page discusses the story of Susan, a seven-year-old girl who suffered a TBI when she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle. Although she appears normal, she continues to suffer from cognitive impairments as a result of the accident. This page goes on to discuss what TBIs are, how they are treated and how a parent can seek help for his or her child.
Issues Associated with Pre-School Child Traumatic Brain Injury (International Brain Injury Association) – This study discusses the difficulties present in assessing a young child’s TBI because of the lack of information regarding the child’s normal behavior and developmental potential from before the injury. Issues like changed parental behavior following an injury, potential developmental delays caused by a TBI and plasticity level of a child’s brain when compared to an adult’s and how that may affect a child’s recovery are discussed.
Traumatic Brain Injury (Project IDEAL) – This page discusses how TBIs affect a child’s ability to learn in a classroom setting. It also goes over how teachers can help the students by understanding the challenges they face.
Clinical trials for new medicines and other types of treatment for TBIs are conducted every year. For some TBI patients, participating in a clinical trial is a great way to earn some money and further the current body of knowledge about treating this type of injury. Check out these sources to learn more about clinical trials:
CenterWatch List of Current Trials – This list contains the clinical trials that are currently recruiting participants by state. Check back regularly to see if there are any clinical trials in Illinois that are in need of patients with your qualifications.
TBI-CT Network – The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development maintains this page about the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Trials (TBI-CT) Network. This network lists universities that conduct clinical trials for TBI treatment as well as information about participating in one.
Mayo Clinic – Another great place to find ongoing clinical TBI trials is the Mayo Clinic’s website. Beyond this list, the website offers comprehensive guides to a variety of injury types, including TBIs.
More Information About TBI
After reviewing some of the links above, you might still want more information about TBIs. Use the following links to find the information you are seeking and gain a different perspective on some of the issues that have been covered above.
CDC TBI Factsheet – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists numerous links to reports to Congress and fact sheets regarding TBIs and their treatment.
National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month – September is TBI Awareness Month, as discussed in this blog post from the Stony Brook School of Medicine. The blog post covers ways to prevent a TBI and ways to recognize the symptoms of one.
Brain Injury Toolbox Video Library – The Brain Injury Toolbox provides links to multiple videos that help TBI victims and caregivers by showing what it is like to live with this type of injury and how to seek help. This organization promotes healthy recovery from TBIs and provides information for patients.
There are a few ways you can prevent a traumatic brain injury. Keep the following in mind to lower your risk of suffering this type of injury:
- Always wear a helmet when riding a skateboard, bicycle, motorcycle, roller blades, or any other type of wheeled vehicle that does not have a protective chassis.
- Wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
- Wear a helmet when engaging in sports like football or hockey.
- Have your child sit in an age-appropriate child seat when riding in a car.
- Make sure all carpets in your home are firmly in place and wires are not simply out in the open, posing a tripping hazard.
- Place a non-slip pad inside your bathtub to prevent slipping, especially for older individuals. Also consider installing a grab bar in an older relative’s shower and bathroom in case he or she suffers a fall.
Frequently Asked Questions About TBI
How is the severity of a TBI determined?
Health care professionals use several ways to determine whether a victim’s injury is mild, moderate or severe. These ways include:
- Glasgow Coma Scale – Measures responsiveness to behavioral stimuli
- Glasgow Outcome Scale – Measures likelihood of making a full recovery at various points in his or her treatment
- Rancho Los Amigos Scale – Measures consciousness and receptiveness.
Sometimes, these scales are used together to get a fuller picture of a patient’s injury.
How long does it take to recover from a TBI?
This really depends on the severity of your injury. In most cases, the bulk of the patient’s recovery happens within six months after starting treatment, according to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. A victim’s condition may continue to improve for up to two years and sometimes beyond two years following treatment. For many TBI patients, recovery beyond this initial healing period is primarily the relearning of skills rather than physical changes within the body.
What are the most common causes of TBI?
According to Brainline.org, the most common causes of TBIs are falls, assaults, car accidents and strikes by objects. Nearly one-fifth of TBIs result from other causes, including sports injuries and blasts suffered by active duty military members. The most common causes of TBIs for child victims are the same as the most common causes for adult victims.
Does my age, sex or race affect my likelihood of suffering a TBI?
According to Brainline.org, men are at a higher risk of suffering from TBIs than women. This can be attributed to the fact that men are more likely to work in physically demanding environments and to be members of the military. Children ages 0-4 and 15-19 and adults over the age of 65 are also at a higher risk of suffering this type of injury than other age groups. Although race does not play a factor in how frequently TBIs occur, African-Americans die as a result of TBI more frequently than other races.
Can I die from a TBI?
It is possible for a TBI victim to die shortly after his or her accident or in the weeks or months following the accident, depending on the severity of his or her injury and the level of care he or she receives. This is why it is important to seek a doctor’s care as soon as you can after you are involved in an accident, whether you think you are suffering from an injury or not.
Why is TBI called an invisible injury?
You might have heard TBI referred to as an “invisible injury.” This is because the symptoms of a TBI are not physical. In many cases, they are not obvious to those around the victim or even to the victim. Symptoms can include blurred vision, dizziness, confusion, trouble sleeping and difficulty with paying attention to tasks or recalling memories. However, this does not mean that a TBI cannot be a potentially life-altering injury.
Is a vegetative state the same as a coma?
A vegetative state is not the same as a coma. According to WebMD, a coma is a prolonged state of unconsciousness in which an individual is not responsive to stimuli. A vegetative state is a state of minimal consciousness. The patient might react to little stimuli but be unable to speak or move. Sometimes, patients can come out of a coma or vegetative state with medical treatment. In other cases, a patient recovers from a coma to a vegetative state but does not progress beyond this point.
Is a concussion a type of TBI?
Yes, a concussion is a mild type of traumatic brain injury. Unlike other types of TBI, brain imaging is not necessary to diagnose a concussion. Concussion patients need rest to make a recovery and might also benefit from over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-nausea drugs. Concussions are fairly common, according to the Mayo Clinic. Individuals who play contact sports such as football are at a heightened risk of suffering concussions.