YOUR BRAIN, ON PANHANDLE’S MIND IN MARCH

The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around – Thomas A. Edison

Inventor Thomas Edison may not have earned a medical degree, but he was undeniably a really sharp guy. His recognition of the brain’s importance is affirmed by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, which is not too far from Panhandle Home Health.  BIAA is a bit more descriptive than Edison, as it explains, 

The human brain is magnificent and complex. The brain is made up of many parts, each with a specific and important function. It controls our ability to balance, walk, talk, and eat. It coordinates and regulates our breathing, blood circulation, and heart rate. It is responsible for our ability to speak, to process and remember information, make decisions, and feel emotions. Every brain is unique, ever-changing, and extremely sensitive to its environment.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, which was established in 1993. Its 2018 to 2020 theme is Change Your Mind. 

BIAA provides a very useful fact sheet that includes the shocking statistic that every nine seconds someone in America sustains a brain injury. 

It is important to recognize, however, that there are two types of brain injuries: Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) and Acquired Brain Injuries (ABIs). 

TBIs are caused by trauma to the brain from an external force and may be experienced as a consequence of falls, sports injuries, exposure to blasts during combat and training exercises, and motor vehicle accidents. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) relates that most TBIs are mild, and they are called concussions. More severe impacts to the head, however, may cause an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss. TBIs are a major cause of death and disability. 

The BIAA defines ABIs as injuries to the brain that are not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma.  Examples are stroke, near-drowning, aneurysm, tumor, an infectious disease (meningitis), or lack of oxygen to the brain (heart attack). The first of these – stroke – strikes with little or no warning and is the Number 1 long-term disabler.

You probably didn’t know that eighty percent of strokes are preventable with lifestyle changes, like weight management, exercise, blood pressure monitoring, and regular physical exams.  The Stroke Recovery Foundation (SRF) has developed eleven pillars of stroke prevention that we urge you check out.   

Despite preventability, however, 800,000 strokes do occur every year in the United States.  In dealing with stroke, time is of the essence, and you should call 911 without delay – don’t try to drive yourself to the hospital! -- if you experience any of the following (or observe somebody else who’s displaying these symptoms):

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • Sudden droopiness in the mouth while trying to smile;
  • Sudden change of vision – blurred, blackened, or double-vision in one or both eyes;
  • Sudden severe or persistent headache;
  • Sudden loss of balance or coordination;
  • Sudden trouble with speaking or understanding speech.

SRF reports that ten percent of people who experience stroke recover almost completely, but ninety percent require special care because of minor or major impairments.  

After a stroke, it’s critical to relearn the skills that were lost when the stroke affected the brain. The Mayo Clinic provides excellent information on what to expect during stroke rehabilitation. Rehabilitation plans are tailored based upon the part of the body or the ability that was impacted by the stroke. They include physical activities, like muscle strengthening exercises, which may involve robotic technology and computer-based therapies; cognitive and emotional therapies, to help with speech, social skills, and memory; and experimental treatments, including alternative medicine.  

The Mayo Clinic says stroke rehabilitation often starts as soon as 24 to 48 hours after a stroke, while a patient is hospitalized, because the sooner it begins, the more likely abilities and skills are regained.  Before leaving the hospital, the patient and care team determine the optimal rehabilitation environment, which depends upon patient needs, insurance coverage, and the convenience of the patient and the patient’s family. Rehab can occur at inpatient rehab facilities, outpatient units, skilled nursing facilities, and through home-based programs. 

Home-based programs can provide rehabilitation nurses to help you manage the complications that may occur after a stroke; physical therapists to help you regain balance and movement, occupational therapists to help you relearn daily skills of living, like bathing, shoe tying, and shirt buttoning; speech and language pathologists to address your communications challenges and swallowing difficulties; social workers to identify community resources that promote safe at-home living; home health aides to give you a hand with your basic daily activities; and, dietician services to support nutritional adjustments that your physician recommends. 

Panhandle is prepared to assist you with your home-based therapy! 

We can provide:

  • Rehabilitation nurses to help you manage the complications that may occur after a stroke; physical therapists to help you regain balance and movement.
  • Occupational therapists to help you relearn daily skills of living, like bathing, shoe tying, and shirt buttoning; speech and language pathologists to address your communications challenges and swallowing difficulties.
  • Social workers to identify community resources that promote safe at-home living; home health aides to give you a hand with your basic daily activities; and, dietician services to support nutritional adjustments that your physician recommends. 

Although you may not believe you’re as clever as Tom Edison, there’s no doubt, your brain is a very big deal! Be aware that you can protect its health; however, in the event of stroke, a focused rehabilitation program, in conjunction with your motivation and commitment, can help you reclaim your independence and rebuild a better quality of life. 

It’s just smart to have Panhandle on your recovery team!

Panhandle Home Health has been providing home health services for over 44 years.  Visit us at www.panhandlehomehealth.org to find out how we can put you back on the road to a successful recovery.

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