Apps for People With a Brain Injury

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Living with a brain injury has challenges that are difficult to overcome, particularly when memory has been affected. Technological advances have offer new hope for those who are suffering from mild to severe memory loss, with specialized apps for TBI victims to stay organized, be reminded of important dates, appointments, people and a wide range of other resources.

Some of the resources now available include apps for people who are nonverbal, allowing the patient to answer yes or no – often the first step towards recovery in treating traumatic brain injury, and providing medical professionals with information about the level of damage. More advanced apps give voice to those who have lost the ability to speak. There are apps that have specialized memory games, stress management tools to assist with mood stabilization and anger management, word-finding apps, and daily task apps to assist with keeping up with daily duties and appointments.

Cognitive Rehabilitation: New Options

Patients in rehab often have a long road to recovery. There are several apps available that provide solutions for the current cognitive goals, including visual problem solving, and apps that address the issues surrounding short term memory loss, or that provide a total cognitive workout. Many brain injury victims have trouble with practical skills such as counting money, and new resources are available to assist with this process, and can eventually give the individual the ability to live independently.

TBI victims may suffer from dysarthria (an unclear articulation of speech) and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Certain apps on the market provide support for these conditions. “Pocket Pairs” helps patients practice producing words in pairs, and iSwallow provides reminders for swallowing exercises, including video instructions.

A family GPS tracker allows the chosen group to keep track of the location of each member of the family, and others allow for emergency medical information to be transmitted in cases of emergency. A person who tends to lose their way can get voice and visual directions.

These advances provide new types of resources for brain injury patients. Families can get assistance from brain injury rehab specialists about which apps to use throughout the recovery process, and how to teach a family member to operate the various apps. As the patient improves abilities, more complex apps can be installed.

How to Live With Brain Injury

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Every year in the United States, about one million people seek emergency room care due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and an estimated 230,000 people are hospitalized. Traumatic brain injuries range significantly in severity, from a mild concussion that has no long-term impact on health, to a severe injury that directly impacts every facet of life. For those in the latter category, establishing a new normal is especially difficult, but with motivation and hard work, it is possible to enjoy a sustained quality of life.

The areas of life that are impacted by a TBI will depend on which parts of the brain were injured, as well as the severity of the TBI diagnosis. While it’s nearly impossible to accurately gauge exactly how much impact a TBI will have on a person’s life in the long term, there are general steps a person can take to help them overcome many of the challenges associated with a TBI.

Attention and Concentration

A traumatic brain injury can render you unable to focus or concentrate on multiple tasks. As a result, you may suffer from restlessness and may become easily distracted. To combat those hurdles, remove any potential distractions prior to starting a task. Do it no matter how seemingly simple a task is (answering a phone call) or how difficult (writing a letter). As you gain confidence, you will notice a slow progression in your ability to complete increasingly complex tasks, and eventually the distractions will no longer be a hurdle to completing them.

Communication

Communication can also be problematic for TBI victims. You may find yourself having a hard time coming up with the right word, following conversations, using facial expressions, and reading the emotions of others. To help regain abilities in this area, maintain conversations with only one person at a time, speak slowly and deliberately, and create a signal that others can use to let you know when you have gone off topic. The more you practice these steps, the easier communicating will become.

Organization, Planning and Retaining

Scheduling appointments, making plans, and performing multi-step tasks can be a challenge for people who have a TBI. So, start making and keeping lists of things you need to do and create step-by-step instructions for tasks that you find difficult. If a task is simply too complex, break it down into smaller steps. When faced with a task that you cannot figure out, focus on the desired end result and work backward.

Another common problem for victims of TBI is the inability to recollect events and retain information. You might recall memories from long ago, but short term memory and the ability to grasp new information are generally affected. Write down a list of daily routines and activities and keep a copy by your bed, on your refrigerator, in your car, or wherever else you may need it. Use notebooks, wall calendars and smartphone apps to help you along the way, too.

Also, the more relaxed you are and the more rest your brain gets, the better it will function. So, get plenty of sleep and reduce anxiety triggers. One way to lower anxiety is to review your notes and practice new tasks regularly. That way, you will become more familiar with them, and that will lead to reduced stress.

A traumatic brain injury can be a setback, but there are countless ways you can help yourself along the path to recovery. Even if you don’t regain full capacity, with patience and practice you can still function at a high level. The quality of life you enjoy will be directly impacted by your level of motivation and long term commitment to recovery.

Progesterone and TBI

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results from a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts brain function. As reported on Brainline, of the 1.7 million people in the U.S. who suffer TBI every year, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and 1.365 million are treated in emergency rooms and released. Severe TBI can cause unconsciousness or amnesia and may result in long-term independent function problems for victims.

Hopes for Progesterone and TBI in the Scientific Community

Progesterone is a female hormone involved in menstrual cycles and reproduction that can also be found in the brains of both males and females. According to a Life Extension Magazine article, neuroscientist Donald G. Stein, PhD, and some of his colleagues noted that some females recover more completely and quickly from brain injury than males do, and began investigating the neuroprotective effects of progesterone more than 30 years ago.

Studies with animals have indicated that progesterone may reduce damage to the brain and improve recovery from TBI. As reported in the Life Extension article, Dr. Stein’s successful experiments using progesterone to alleviate the effects of brain injury to rats eventually led to clinical trials using progesterone to treat humans suffering from TBI.

In 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published the findings of a study conducted to assess the safety and effectiveness of progesterone for treating patients with acute TBI. Data for the study was obtained from 3 randomized controlled trials of progesterone versus placebo for treatment of a total of 315 acute TBI patients. This study concluded that progesterone may improve neurologic outcome for TBI victims, but that evidence was insufficient and further controlled trials would be required.

Disappointing Results of Further Clinical Trials

On December 25, 2014, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a double-blind clinical trial in which 882 patients with moderate, moderate-to-severe, or severe acute brain injury were randomly given either progesterone or a placebo within 4 hours after injury, with treatments continuing for 96 hours. Most of the patients received their injuries through motor vehicle accidents.

The results of the trial were disappointing, to say the least. There was no significant difference in favorable outcomes for patients treated with progesterone as compared to those treated with a placebo. The conclusion of the study was that progesterone has no clinical benefit for acute TBI patients.

According to a February 10, 2015 Health News article, the study, which was funded by NIH and known as Pro TECT-III, began in April 2009 and continued to October 2013. The University of Cincinnati Medical Center was among the 49 trauma centers that participated in the study and enrolled 85 of the 882 patients involved. Patients were followed closely by researchers for 6 months after treatment.

As reported in the Health News article, Jordon Bonomo, M.D., lead investigator for the trial in Cincinnati, said that the research team was disappointed to learn that progesterone was not as helpful as had been hoped. Dr. Bonomo also commented on the importance of developing new therapies to treat TBI.

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Despite New Study’s Findings, Parents Should Take Potential Child TBI Seriously

Let’s say your child is playing on a swing at school, falls off and hits his or her head on the ground, causing a bruise or bump to form. As a parent, should you be concerned that a serious child brain injury has occurred?

According to a recently published study, if your child’s only sign or symptom after the accident is a headache, there is actually a fairly low risk that the child has suffered a “clinically important” traumatic brain injury (ciTBI), or a brain injury that is likely to require hospitalization or surgery.

However, out of an abundance of caution, you should still have your child examined by a doctor after one of these “bumps on the head.” You should also keep a close watch for signs and symptoms of TBI in the weeks that follow.

Study Finds Low Risk of TBI in Children with Isolated Headaches

Researchers from New York’s Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital conducted the study, which was reported February 2 in the online edition of the journal, Pediatrics.

The study analyzed data from a prospective observational study of children between ages 2 and 18 with “minor blunt head trauma,” or head trauma registering a score of 14 or 15 on the 15-point Glasgow Coma Scale.

As Reuters Health describes, the children were placed into two groups: Those with isolated headaches and those with signs and symptoms in addition to a headache.

Out of 2,462 children who suffered only isolated headaches, none were found to have ciTBI. In contrast, out of 10,105 children with more than an isolated headache, 162 had ciTBI (1.6 percent).

In other words, the risk of serious brain injury is 1.6 percent higher when a child presents signs and symptoms that go beyond an isolated headache.

Additionally, commuted tomography (CT) scans identified ciTBI in only three out of 456 children with isolated headaches (0.7 percent). Out of a group of 6,089 children with additional signs and symptoms, CT scans revealed ciTBI in 271 (4.5 percent). In other words, the risk of ciTBI was 3.8 percent higher.

This research follows a study published online in September 2014 by JAMA Pediatrics that analyzed children with isolated loss of consciousness after suffering mild blunt head trauma. The researchers in that study found there was a “very low risk for ciTBI” among children with that lone symptom and concluded that they “do not routinely require” CT scan evaluations.

How Should Parents React to Head Injuries?

While the these studies, taken together, may suggest that parents have little to worry about if a child merely bumps his or her head and suffers only an isolated headache or loss of consciousness, it is still important to take these injuries seriously.

As the Brain Injury Association of America notes, “62,000 children sustain brain injuries [each year] requiring hospitalization as a result of motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports injuries, physical abuse and other causes.”

Pay attention to signs and symptoms of TBI that a child may develop in addition to headaches or loss of consciousness, which the Children’s Health Center of Atlanta describes as:

  • Fluid draining from the ears or nose
  • Confused or dazed looks
  • Inability to see or speak clearly
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Severe neck pain
  • Progressive drowsiness
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Inability to remember people or places.

If your child has suffered an apparent head injury, don’t do the evaluation yourself. Instead, take your child to see a doctor as soon as possible. Allow the doctor to do an examination and to consult with you on whether to order additional testing such as a CT scan or X-ray.

Brain Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice

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A 26-year-old woman who had recently graduated from medical school and planned to become a pediatrician died after going to a Pennsylvania hospital complaining of days of headaches. The team of doctors who treated her did some tests and gave her medication, but did not order a head -imaging scan that would have detected her life threatening condition, a blood clot.

The patient was at the hospital more than 40 hours before a neurologist examined her and she was within hours of death before she was given clot-busting medications, according to a newspaper account. She eventually suffered massive cerebral hemorrhaging, a stroke, brain damage, and died. The young woman’s parents filed a medical malpractice lawsuit claiming the doctors failed to diagnose a blood clot that should have been obvious.

Approximately 30 percent of all injury related deaths can be attributed to some type of brain trauma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the majority of brain injuries happen as a result of falls, traffic accidents, or being struck by an object, medical malpractice by health care providers also can cause serious and fatal brain injuries.

Examples of Doctor Negligence Causing Brain Injuries

Doctors and hospitals have a legal responsibility to deliver medical treatment according the recognized standard of care. When doctors fail to deliver the appropriate care, the impact to the patient receiving treatment can often be devastating.

Examples of doctor negligence that can lead to these types of brain injuries include:

  • Failure to order appropriate tests and diagnose
  • Improper diagnosis and treatment of any sort of concussion or head trauma
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Mistakes in medication dosage, including a failure to properly monitor pain pumps
  • Lack of proper ventilation or failure to follow safety procedures before, during, and after surgery, leading to infection
  • Surgical errors
  • Errors or delays made during labor and delivery that deprive the baby’s brain of oxygen
  • Inadequate monitoring during the birthing process and failure to respond quickly to signs of distress during the birth.
  • Improper treatment of pre-eclampsia, resulting in a seizure cutting off oxygen to the baby in utero
  • Failure to render treatment or aid to a patient having breathing difficulties or showing signs indicating respiratory distress
  • Failure to diagnose and treat signs of an aneurysm, arrhythmia, stroke, or heart attack in a timely fashion

Delays in Diagnosis and Treatment can Cause Long Lasting Effects

Even a seemingly insignificant delay in diagnosis or medical treatment can end up causing an individual to become deprived of adequate oxygen supply or experience abnormally low levels of oxygen in the body’s organs and tissue. Should this happen, hypoxic or anoxic brain injuries are likely to result. This is due to the fact that brain cells cannot survive without oxygen. It only takes about four or five minutes for brain cells to begin to die once deprived of oxygen. If hypoxia is allowed to continue for longer than a few minutes, it could lead to seizures, coma, and possibly brain death.

Once the brain has been deprived of oxygen, damage can be permanent. Recovery will depend on the extent of the damage caused, as well as the length of time the brain was either deprived of oxygen or was subjected to exceedingly low levels of oxygen. In many cases, recovering from a brain injury will be a long, grueling process. Others may not ever be able to return to the standard of living they once enjoyed.

Neither the doctor nor the hospital is likely to admit to a patient that they have made an error leading to a brain injury. If you have a loved one who you suspect suffered a brain injury caused by medical malpractice, you may not know what actually happened unless you consult a qualified medical malpractice attorney and have the patient’s medical records examined, to determine if doctors followed the appropriate standard of care.

Sources:

Guest post by Sansone & Lauber

TBI: Injury Location Matters

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When a person is the victim of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), his brain’s nerve cells become damaged. The normal process of information transfer between brain cells changes, and sometimes it stops altogether. Since the three primary areas of concern with TBI victims include emotional, cognitive and physical development, the injury can result in a noticeable shift in the person’s overall behavior and motor skills. But not all people experience the same symptoms.

In order to understand how a traumatic brain injury may impact the life of a victim and those around him, it’s necessary to first understand the basics of how the brain is divided, and the function of each section. The information is important because the type of challenges the victim will face will depend on the location of the injury.

Left or Right

The brain has two hemispheres, or halves. For 97% of people, the left half of the brain houses logical and verbal functions, such as writing, speaking, listening, and reading. The right half of the brain is where intuitive and nonverbal functions originate. These can include recognizing patterns (visual and oral) and understanding and expressing emotions.
So, a person who suffers a TBI in the left hemisphere may have difficulties with language and communication, while someone who has a TBI in the right hemisphere may face challenges with interpretation, orientation and organizational abilities. This information serves as an excellent starting point in our effort to understand how the location of a traumatic brain injury will impact a person’s abilities and behavior. But, it’s not exactly as clear cut as that, because the brain is divided even further.

Six Regions

In addition to the split halves, the brain is also comprised of six areas, each with its own purpose and functions. The areas do work in coordination with one another, however, with some functions being supported by multiple regions. The six sections of the brain are as follows:

  • Brain stem: swallowing, heart rate, balance, site and sound reflexes, alertness level, body temperature, blood pressure, sweating, digestion.
  • Cerebellum: voluntary movement coordination, equilibrium, reflex motor memory.
  • Frontal lobe: awareness and initiation of activity, judgments, emotional and expressive control, word association, reasoning, abstract thought comprehension, motor activity memory.
  • Parietal lobe: perception of touch, focused voluntary movement, integration of senses.
  • Occipital lobes: vision
  • Temporal lobes: hearing, certain visual perceptions, classifying objects, emotion, processing of verbal data, memory.

Emotional Changes

As evidenced by the list, there are countless ways that a traumatic brain injury can impact a person’s cognitive and physical abilities. But, it’s just as critical that troubling emotional changes not be ignored. A TBI can cause disturbing deviations in behavior that can include aggression, restlessness, mood swings, lack of self-awareness, irritability, and lethargy. Therapy and rehabilitation can help with, not only the physical and cognitive challenges, but the emotional ones as well. Fortunately, help is available even if insurance won’t cover it.

Traumatic brain injuries impact both the victims and their families, and can lead to cognitive, physical, behavioral and emotional challenges. But, understanding the location of the injury, and what functions the impacted areas affect, will go a long way in helping victims and their families understand, face, and conquer those challenges.

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation for a Brain Injury?

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Accidents cause serious brain injuries in the workplace every day. Slip and fall accidents, falls from scaffolding or ladders, and job-related motor vehicle accidents are some of the most common causes of on-the-job head injuries. A brain injury may involve a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, or a traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can range from mild to severe. Amnesia or extended unconsciousness can follow a severe injury. TBI can have short- and long-term effects on the victim’s emotions, thinking processes, reasoning, language skills, and sensations, such as touch, taste, and smell. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the victim’s risk of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Injury to the Brain

Workers’ compensation benefits vary by state. North Carolina, for example, has a no-fault Workers’ Compensation system. If you have been injured on the job, you will be entitled to benefits in most cases, even if you accidently caused your own injuries. If you have suffered a mild brain injury, workers’ comp should cover your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages until you return to work.

Bear in mind that symptoms of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury may not be apparent immediately. Delayed and secondary symptoms can include inability to think clearly, numbness in the limbs, slurred speech, irritability, and depression. Symptoms can be subtle and difficult to recognize.

Severe TBI can result in permanent disability or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 30% of all deaths from injuries in the U.S. are TBI related. A brain injury can have devastating long-term effects on cognitive function, motor function, sensation, and emotions, seriously impacting the lives of victims and their families.

Workers’ compensation law is complicated, and the insurance company may seek to lower your disability rating to minimize the amount it pays out to you. In certain cases, you may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits and pursue compensation from a third party that was to blame for your injury.

If you have suffered severe TBI in a workplace accident, it is crucial that you consult with a knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to either partial or total permanent disability benefits, depending on the extent of your injuries.

What to Do When Recovering From a Work-Related Brain Injury

In the event of a brain injury, the CDC offers the following tips to aid your recovery:

  • Do not rush back to work or daily activities. Get plenty of rest.
  • Take only medications that have been prescribed by your doctor.
  • Do not drink alcohol until your doctor says that you may.
  • Avoid any activity that could cause a jolt or blow to the head and further injure your brain.
  • Do not drive, ride a motorcycle or a bicycle, or operate heavy equipment until your doctor gives you the OK.
  • If you have difficulty remembering things, write them down.
  • Get professional help re-learning the skills you have lost because of your injury.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): What are the Potential Effects of TBI? http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/outcomes.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Severe Traumatic Brain Injury http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/severe.html

5 Things to Consider Upon Returning to Work after a Traumatic Brain Injury

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After sustaining a concussion or other type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is no question that the path to recovery may be long and grueling. While rest and relaxation are important, taking steps to become more active may also be beneficial in the recovery process. Even returning to work could be helpful in certain circumstances.

It is not uncommon for survivors of traumatic brain injuries to become anxious to get back to a somewhat “normal” routine as soon as possible. While not all TBI survivors will be able to return to work or enjoy life as they once did, some may be able to rejoin the workforce with proper precautions.

If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury, and feel you have recovered to the degree that you are capable of returning to work, here are five things you need to do:

1. Talk with your doctor about returning to work.

Before you return to work, it is important you discuss it with your doctor. Not all TBI symptoms are severe, yet even mild symptoms could cause significant, long-term damage. If you return to work too soon, you could cause more damage than good. Added stress can have a negative impact on TBI recovery. Since your doctor has an in-depth understanding of the extent of your injuries, as well as how your recovery is going, he or she can best advise you on the pros and cons of going back to work at your current stage of recovery.

2. Coordinate a work schedule with your employer.

Once your doctor has cleared you to return to work, it is important you take the time to sit down with your employer and coordinate a sensible work schedule. You should not try to work on the same schedule you did prior to your injury. Ease back into work. You likely need to arrange to have reduced responsibilities at first. You should also plan to work shorter hours and be allowed to take more frequent breaks, particularly if your symptoms get worse. Do not worry about coming across as lazy, as you are far from that. It takes a lot of strength and tenacity to return to work after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

3. Take precautions to avoid hazards at work.

After suffering a traumatic brain injury, it is extremely important for you to use caution to avoid hazards at work. Do not perform work that requires you to climb ladders or work at heights. Do not attempt to lift any boxes or move heavy objects around. Driving after a TBI may be dangerous as well. If your job requires you to drive, ask your employer to put you on a desk job for the time being. Working with machinery is not advised, as hand-eye coordination and mental capacity are likely to be diminished. The bottom line is, if some part of your job requires you to do a task that could cause you injury or harm, ask for help from a co-worker or ask your boss to reassign the task. There is no reason to put yourself further at risk.

4. Get lots of rest.

Traumatic brain injuries can affect a person’s physical capacity, as well as his or her cognitive and emotional capacities. If you do not get sufficient rest, the stress on your body may be too much for your brain to easily handle. Getting a lot of rest is one of the most essential parts of any TBI recovery plan. Your brain needs downtime to heal – time when it is not trying to assimilate information while watching TV, playing video games, reading, having conversations with others or trying to figure out problems at work.

5. Get regular checkups.

It is really easy to get involved with work and other activities while recovering from a traumatic brain injury. It is also easy to forget or ignore the need for regular checkups. If you do not want your recovery to regress, go see your doctor for regularly scheduled checkups or when symptoms appear to worsen. By doing this, your doctor will be able to closely monitor your progress and address any possible concerns. The earlier symptoms are caught and treated, the better your chances are of achieving a full recovery.

Source:

CDC – Heads Up: Facts for Physicians about Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)

Can Brain Injury Cause Domestic Violence?

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Domestic violence among NFL players has become a hot topic. Amid the controversy about how the NFL has handled domestic violence incidents, the question comes up: Can brain injury be to blame for domestic violence inflicted by professional football players?
The Washington Post recently reported on an HBO Real Sports documentary addressing a possible link between domestic violence and brain injuries. The documentary suggests that some players who have committed domestic violence may suffer from a type of brain injury known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

What is CTE?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain. This type of disease is most often found in boxers, football players, hockey players and other athletes who have a history of sustaining repeated blows to the head. This type of repetitive trauma to the head and brain can cause concussions, as well as long-term or permanent damage.
Not all individuals who have suffered repetitive blows will experience these symptoms. Some may not even realize they have CTE until years or even decades later, when the brain tissue has already experienced severe degeneration and abnormal proteins have built up. Once the brain tissue degenerates, common symptoms of CTE include:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impulse control problems
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Progressive dementia
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies

Football-Related Head Injuries

While a brain injury does not excuse domestic violence, the documentary does raise new concerns about the impact of head injuries sustained by football players. Are football players, and other athletes who suffer repetitive head trauma, more prone to violence? If so, what can be done to address the issue without allowing CTE to become an excuse for violent behavior?
Domestic violence is a serious crime. Lashing out violently toward another individual, particularly a loved one, is never acceptable. The only problem is that imprisonment will not resolve a traumatic brain injury.
Thousands of former players are suing the NFL as a result of their concussion-related injuries and damages. There are also a number of family members who have sued the NFL, claiming a CTE connection in the wrongful death of a loved one.

What about players whose abusive behavior may be related to concussions or other traumatic injuries? What are their rights? What further action can be taken to minimize head trauma and risk?

Dangers To Children

The many questions surrounding this topic include the issue of whether young kids should be allowed to play tackle football. We already know that concussions and head trauma can have long-lasting negative consequences, both physical and mental. Even players who do not progress to professional leagues may suffer from CTE and other problems associated with brain injuries. Children who play contact sports can suffer the same type of damage.
Safety is obviously of the utmost concern for parents of football players of any age. Parents deserve to have all of the facts about CTE and its potential link to a range of behaviors, including violence. Only with knowledge will we be able to minimize the risk of injuries to both children and adults.

ashley-krohnThis guest post provided by Ashley Krohn.

Hazing and Collegiate Level Play

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and so we turn the spotlight on an organized form of bullying: college athletic hazing. Hazing comes in many forms, including the forced consumption of alcohol, engagement in sexual activities, and other physically and emotionally devastating actions. Hazing is such a destructive act that it has prompted colleges and universities to shut down entire sports seasons in an attempt to put an end to it. Unfortunately, it continues to resurface over and over again, despite such drastic efforts.

Prevalence of College-Level Hazing

Even though countless collegiate organizations have spoken out against hazing and have taken steps to reduce it on their campuses, the existence of hazing in college sports is still considered to be par for the course at many schools. But, just how prevalent is it?

Based on studies done over the last 15 years, college athletic hazing continues to be a problem, despite efforts by administrators and educators to end the devastating ‘rite of passage’. For example, a 1999 survey conducted by Alfred University showed that as many as 80% of college athletes in NCAA schools had been victim to hazing practices by teammates. In 2008, the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development conducted research that showed varsity teams (74%) and club sports groups (64%) were among the student organizations with the highest level of hazing activity.

Injuries Athletes Have Sustained as a Result of Hazing

The act of hazing is of great concern, not only for the emotional scars it leaves, but because hazing can cause irreversible physical and mental damage. The list of injuries sustained by college athletes during a hazing rite is extensive. It varies from hospitalization due to alcohol toxicity to traumatic brain injuries, and even death.

No official national hazing organization exists, so numbers are difficult to track. However, there has been at least one hazing-related death on college campuses every year since 1970. The percentage of those deaths that can be attributed to athletic hazing is unknown, however, sports teams and fraternities consistently have the highest number of hazing events reported.

Is Hazing a Form of Bullying?

The connection between bullying and hazing is a controversial one. Some consider hazing to be a form of bullying, while others believe that athletic hazing specifically is not bullying, in part because some of the actions are considered to be “voluntary” on the part of the victim. However, it’s an act of aggression, pressure, and intimidation where the victim is forced to endure humiliating, painful acts in order to be ‘accepted’ by his or her peers. So, college athletic hazing is a form of group bullying.

What to do if You Have been Hazed

Victims of hazing often don’t report it for reasons including embarrassment and the desire to be part of a group. However, if you’ve been hazed, or are feeling pressured to participate in the rituals, report it to your school immediately. Many schools have a way to report it anonymously, but still, some victims don’t feel comfortable either way. If that’s the case, contact the local police instead of campus security.

If you are unsure whether or not you should report the incident, consult your parents, clergy or other trusted family, friend or community member. This is especially important if you’ve been threatened. After all, if it’s happening to you, it’s happening to others, too.

Prevent and Raise Awareness to Hazing

Myriad groups, including Stop Hazing, Pacer, Stomp Out Bullying, and Hazing Prevention, sponsor events and provide anti-hazing education to the public. Even collegiate sports organizations, such as the NCAA, have anti-hazing programs in place. Of course, the end goal is to stop it altogether, but organizations can’t do it alone. Such a prevalent and historic issue requires help from the community at large.

Fortunately, there are ways that individuals can make a difference and help raise awareness about hazing to stop it in its tracks. Joining an anti-hazing group and participating in their events is a great place to start.

There is even a free app designed to make it easier to learn about and report hazing, as it “provides access to resources and state-by-state facts about hazing.” The app provides a list of local organizations and allows for the ability to send video or photos of the hazing event directly to the reporting agency of the user’s choice.

 

Awareness of the damage caused by hazing, as well as efforts to end it, should not be limited to the month of October. Diligence in resisting and ending hazing should be a year round endeavor on the parts of everyone. School administrations can’t end it without our help.

This guest post brought to you by Jason Lee.

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