Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of premature death and disability in Ireland. This is according to the Traumatic Brain Injury Research Group’s Phillips Report.
Statistics from the Department of Health [then Department of Health and Children] gathered in 2005, show trauma is the fourth most frequent cause of overall mortality in Ireland and is the leading cause of death in the Irish population under the age of 45 years.
A majority of these deaths are a result of head trauma.
‘For every traumatic brain injury death at least two other people survive with permanent disability,’ according the the Report findings.
Data collected by the Traumatic Coma Databank state, ‘that death is expected in one third of patients with a severe TBI and another 40% will have a moderate to severe disability.’‘Disability from TBI in Ireland has unmeasured personal, societal and economic consequences,’ cites the Report.
Sadly, accurate reporting of the number of incidences resulting in a TBI in the Irish population is unknown, and there is minimal data for all types of trauma available from Ireland.
‘No single national study in the Republic of Ireland has yet succeeded in answering these questions,’ said Dr. Jack Phillips, a neurosurgeon and project leader of the Phillips Report.
However, the Antwerp University Hospital’s Centre-TBI Europe project based in Belgium says, 2.5 million people will suffer from a TBI in Europe.
Centre-TBI is a European organisation whose purpose is to advance the care of patients with TBI, operating within the broader international framework of the International Initiative for Traumatic Brain Injury Research (InTBIR).According to their website, ‘TBI is a global problem and requires a global approach.’
At a Joint Oireactas Committee meeting on Health, members from the Neurological Alliance of Ireland presented their Annual Report stating, ‘ Ireland is uniquely reliant on not for profit organisations to provide neurological health services that are normally provided by the State in other jurisdictions.’One of these organisations is Brí Ireland. The organisation is a charity providing support to people with a brain injury.
Speaking to The Circular, Brí Director Séamus McGrath, says there are many factors that can impact the lives of a person living with a traumatic brain injury.
He says, friends and family are also affected by the TBI.
‘Onlookers will think you are fine and expect you to be the same,’ said McGrath.
He identified five things people should be aware of that can have an impact on person effected by a traumatic brain injury.
1. The survivor needs to understand what part of the brain was impacted.
‘From this they will be in a better position to understand their changes in behaviour and the impact on their Skills and Functions associated with the Lobes of the brain,’ McGrath said.
2. It is important to understand that you have limitations.
‘You may look fine after your injury,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to say ‘no’ to things you are not able to do.’
3. Take care of yourself and get plenty of rest.
‘Mental fatigue will cause loss of clarity, memory loss and in general slow down your recovery,’ said McGrath. ‘Try to get into meditation, eat healthy, avoid alcohol and take any prescribed medication.’
4. Seek therapy
‘Not only for yourself,’ he said. ‘But [also] for your family members.’
‘The family needs support to cope with the new person in their life. The new person may look the same as the old one but they can be very different and at times difficult to relate to and understand,’ he said.
Dublin Central has meetings on the 3rd Thursday of the month in St. Catherine’s Sports Centre from 7 – 9pm.