National alliance to raise awareness for TBI launched
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You hear about it increasingly with famous sports stars and war heroes returning home. But unless you hear their stories its still hard to believe. Nick Colgin, a 27-year-old Afghanistan war veteran, has one of those stories.
“I helped rescue a friend who had been shot in the head. I rescued 42 local Afghans from a flooding river and I earned a bronze star. But at the same time, a few weeks later, hit off the right side of my humvee, it kind of dazed me, knocked me out, broke my nose. But the worst part was I didn’t know how it affected me, affected my brain,” said Colgin.
As a result, years later, Colgin said that he can no longer read or write. He suffers from traumatic brain injury, or TBI, something that impacts about 1.7 million Americans a year. It can happen anytime to anyone who experiences a bump, blow, or any other injury to the head and can lead to irreversible brain damage or death.
Dozens of athletes, war heroes and other victims, including ABC journalist Bob Woodruff, known for his own rehabilitation from Traumatic Brain Injury after being wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq - gathered to launch a national alliance to help raise awareness and research funds toward treating the condition.
“Traumatic Brain Injury isn’t recognized sufficiently in terms of types of problems that it causes. There may be some professional athlete that develops dementia or becomes suicidal or succeeds in committing suicide and those make the news. But it can as well be a milder form of a disorder which then leads to behavioral changes or intellectual changes,” said Dr. Bruce Schwartz of the Professional Advisory Board and the Mental Health Alliance.
“I suffer from depression daily...I haven’t been the same person I was since 2007 before my injury,” said Colgin.
That’s why the Mental Health Association of New York City is working with partners to form the National TBI and Emotional Wellness Alliance.
“The overall goal of this initiative is really to build awareness, disseminate science-based information and develop sound policy initiatives around this convergence of traumatic brain injury and emotional well being,” said Director of the Center for Policy Advocacy and Education, Kimberly Williams.
Because sports athletes and war veterans make up a concentrated pool of patients who experience TBI, the alliance will focus its research on them to gather information and help improve services for those in need.