Creating Awareness Through the 2012 OBIA Impact Report

By Ruth Wilcock, Executive Director, OBIA

In Ontario alone there are close to half a million people living with a brain injury, with 18,000 new cases added every year. Acquired brain injury (ABI) is 15 times more common than spinal cord injury, 30 times more common that breast cancer and 400 times more common than HIV/AIDS. The numbers are truly staggering; however awareness about brain injury and its life-long effects on survivors remain a mystery to most of the general public. In the past couple of years, the heightened media attention on sports concussions has at least brought some awareness to the matter. However, there is still much work to be done when it comes to enhancing awareness and understanding of ABI. One of the ways in which the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) is responding to this need is through the newly released OBIA Impact Report.

The 2012 OBIA Impact Report provides a statistical snapshot of ABI and its effects on survivors and caregivers. It is a culmination of research that was collected through the Ontario Brain Injury Survey from nearly 600 ABI survivors and 150 caregivers across Ontario. The 136-page Impact Report delivers a clear picture of the symptoms and long-term consequences of ABI. Moreover, the report provides an overview of relevant statistical information including how ABI’s in Ontario are sustained; issues related to the recovery process and the impact on daily living. Additionally, the OBIA Impact Report takes into account the personal perspective of caregivers.

In order to support people living with ABI, it is imperative that we have a strong understanding of the many challenges that are associated with it. One of the goals of the OBIA Impact Report is to provide relevant research data to better inform health care policy makers, Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINS), insurers and researchers who are examining ways in which people living with a brain injury can be better served. Additionally, the report was created with the goal of bringing research to life in a dynamic way in order to appeal to a larger group of diverse audiences and stakeholders.

In order to support people living with ABI, it is imperative that we have a strong understanding of the many challenges that are associated with it.

I would like to share with you a few of the findings from the OBIA Impact Report:ruthsdesk

  • 15% of respondents indicated that it took longer than 6 months to learn of their brain injury, 4%of which stated it being more than 5 years.
  • More than 75% have trouble with depression and/or anxiety.
  • More than 90% have trouble with concentration, making decisions and memory.
  • Complications of brain injury may include problems with: Mood Swings 76%, Dizziness, 71%, Vision 58%, Hearing Problems 45%, Seizures 22%.

The findings above bring awareness to some of the challenges and consequences relating to brain injuries. This study was made possible through the willingness of survivors and their caregivers, who participated in the Ontario Brain Injury Survey. I want to thank each of the individuals who were willing to share their very personal journeys with us in order to create a greater awareness and understanding of the issues faced by persons impacted by ABI. I also want to express appreciation to the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation for the support and funding of the survey development and data analysis. The OBIA Impact Report is available in hard copy and also on OBIA’s website www.obia.ca.

 

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