VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
What is Brain Injury? Why Should I Be Interested? What Can I Do About It?
Robert J. Hamilton
Brain Injury (BI) is a critically important, but generally unrecognized, factor in the United States and many other countries that costs billions of dollars, disrupts millions of families and relationships, and causes countless heartaches. Consider these statistics on only one form of brain injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI). Each year, on average 1.4 million people in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury – or approximately 4000 people each day. Of these, 50,000 die, 235,000 are hospitalized and 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department (Langlois, Rutland-Brown & Thomas, 2006). At least 5.3 million Americans – 2% of the U.S. population - are living with a TBI-related disability (Thurman, Alverson, Dunn, Guerrero & Sniezek, 1999). Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity total an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000 (Finkelstein, Corso, Miller & associates, 2006). An estimated 1.6-3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year (Langlois, Rutland-Brown & Wald, 2006). Of the more than two million people currently residing in U.S. prisons and jails, the TBI prevalence rate is reported to be 3-10 times that of the general US population (CDC, 2007). To put a perspective on these numbers, compare TBI with more commonly known and recognized health issues. There were in 2001, 176,300 new breast cancer cases, 43,700 of which died (ACS, 1999), 10,400 estimated new diagnoses of Multiple Sclerosis (NMSS. 2001), 38,079 new AIDS/HIV cases and 16,980 deaths (Glynn, Rhodes, 2007), 11,000 new traumatic spinal cord cases and more than 190,000 individuals living in the US with paralysis as a result of spinal cord injuries (NSCISC, 2004). Since 2001 there have been changes in yearly diagnoses of approximately –3% to +13% and a decrease in deaths in all the categories listed above. The only CDC health or disability category containing more individuals than traumatic brain injury is mental illness, which includes many individuals with brain injuries that are diagnosed with DSM Axis I and II personality and psychological disorders.