On April 15, 2007, Joanne was out for a morning jog in downtown Denver. While she was on the sidewalk, she was hit by a car going 35 miles per hour. She was thrown eight feet in the air. The accident cracked her skull and she sustained a severe brain injury (subdural and epidural hematoma). She also broke her neck, back, left leg, and shattered the bones in her eye orbit, and nose, and tore her anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament in her right knee. She had to be resuscitated three times and was in a coma for two weeks. She was never expected to make it, but she did.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and in honor of my dear friend Joanne, we’re sharing this information with you to bring awareness and understanding of brain injury. A brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone. Brain injuries do not discriminate.
Joanne (I call her, Joey) celebrates the anniversary of her TBI each year. Yes, it is a celebration – a new birthday, if you will, because we are so blessed that she’s alive. At first glance, you’ll agree that it’s a miracle that Joey can walk, talk, and look like any other “normal” human being considering the extent of her injuries. She’s blonde, gorgeous, fit, and one of the hardest working people I know. This former Jersey girl has a successful career and is one of the most generous people on the planet. Only a very small group of friends have been with Joey on her TBI journey and know of the difficulties she continues to face on a regular basis. She’s worked so hard on her remarkable recovery the last several years, but she still has a long road ahead of her.
Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two brain injuries are exactly alike. For some, brain injury is the start of a lifelong disease process. Here are a few facts about brain injury:
Incidence of brain injury
- An acquired brain injury (ABI) is any injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma.
- A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a subset of ABI and is caused by trauma to the brain from an external force.
- More than 3.5 million children and adults sustain an acquired brain injury.
- At least 2.5 million children and adults sustain TBIs in the U.S. each year.
- Every 13 seconds, someone in the U.S. sustains a TBI.
- One of every 60 people in the U.S. lives with a TBI-related disability.
- Every day, 137 people in the U.S. die because of a TBI-related injury.
Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two brain injuries are exactly alike. For some, brain injury is the start of a lifelong disease process. The injury requires access to a full continuum of medically necessary treatment and community-based supports furnished by interdisciplinary teams of qualified and specialized clinicians working in accredited programs and appropriate settings.
Cost of brain injury care
- Average hospital-based acute rehab is about $8,000 per day
- Range for post-acute residential is about $850 to $2,500 per day
- Day treatment programs (e.g., 4 hours of therapy) are about $600 to $1,000 with no room/board
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., direct medical costs and indirect costs of TBI, such as lost productivity, totaled an estimated $76.3 billion each year.
We honor Joey and the millions of people with brain injury, who with proper acute care, therapeutic rehabilitation, and adequate long-term supports, are living with the successes and challenges that each day brings. We join the Brain Injury Association of America in their mission to advance brain injury prevention, research, treatment and education and to improve the quality of life for all individuals impacted by brain injury.
Has a brain injury impacted your life or the life of someone you know? Share your story with us in the comment section below.