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This month is Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is the month of the year devoted to Brain Injury Awareness, although here in North Carolina, one organization makes traumatic brain injury awareness a major focus year round.

There are five resource centers operated by the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina in Asheville, Charlotte, Greenville, Raleigh and Triad. Staff at the centers work with individuals who acquired a brain injury after being in a car crash, receiving a blow to the head in a sporting accident or fall or other similar trauma.

TBIs present special challenges, because unlike many other disabilities, often there are no outward signs of the disorder, yet sufferers are plagued by symptoms like:

-- Mood swings

-- Limited concentration abilities

-- Speech losses

-- Problems with memory

Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that, annually in America, about 2.4 million adults and children develop a TBI. Over 5.3 million Americans are struggling with some aspects of permanent disability stemming from a TBI. While falls lead the causes of TBI at 35 percent, auto accidents come in second at 17 percent, followed closely by head injury from an object strike at 16.5 percent.

At the Office of Disability Services at Appalachian State University in Boone, employees work with faculty members, students and staff who are living with TBI to formulate accommodation plans that allow them to remain in the campus's academic environment and thrive. The agency closely follows the law as set out in the American With Disabilities Act of 1990.

The director of the campus office stated that special short- and long-term accommodations can be provided. For example, a student might be given a longer time period to complete a test and have the test given in a different setting with fewer distractions. Most students will face revisions to their accommodations plans as their recovery continues each semester.

Staff members also can avail themselves of accommodations like shorter working hours or only teaching morning classes.

Despite special accommodations, dealing with lifelong disabilities after a TBI can be costly. Those who were injured as a result of a collision with a large truck or other commercial vehicle may be forced to pursue civil action to be financially compensated for their damages.

Source: Appalachian State News, "March is Brain Injury Awareness Month" Mar. 11, 2015

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