Brain Awareness Week 2018
(Everything You Need to Know In One Spot)
March 12-18, 2018, is Brain Awareness Week. The Brain Awareness Campaign is a celebration of the brain that brings together scientists, communities, families, and schools. I’ve curated the best content around the web about this important topic and created this article as a one-stop shop for you. This article includes insights into the brain, best resources, 5 best apps, the best games, the best blogs and links to related resources for your viewing pleasure. This article also includes best ways to support those with TBI. This article is for you if you have someone you love suffering from TBI, if you have a TBI or you are curious about the brain.
BRAIN INJURY STATS
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, each year an estimated 2.5 million children and adults in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and another 795,000 individuals sustain an acquired brain injury (ABI) from nontraumatic causes. TBIs can affect the functionality of the brain—affecting thinking, reasoning, and memory. Whether the victim is an adult, a child, or an infant, TBIs can have a major impact on individuals and their families.
Brain Injury Awareness is a passionate topic for me because my dad suffered severe TBI as a result of a massive 20+ car pile up December 22, 2009. Over the course of 2 ½ years, we went through 11 brain surgeries and many, many challenges. My dad was in a doctorate program and worked full time at the time of his accident. Afterward, he was completely disabled and unable to care for himself. You can read more about this story and how I navigated the caregiving journey here: https://tandyelisala.com/tandys-books/
ABOUT THE HUMAN BRAIN
The human brain is the most complex biological structure in the known universe.
Its nearly 100 billion nerve cells power all our thoughts, perceptions, memories, emotions, and actions. It’s what inspires us to build cities and compels us to gaze at the stars.
That sense of wonder drives BrainFacts.org. We are a public information initiative of The Kavli Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the Society for Neuroscience – global nonprofit organizations dedicated to advancing brain research
Powered by the global neuroscience community and overseen by an editorial board of leading neuroscientists from around the world, BrainFacts.org shares the stories of scientific discovery and the knowledge they reveal. Unraveling the mysteries of the brain has the potential to impact every aspect of human experience and civilization.
Join us as we explore the universe between our ears. Because when you know your brain, you know yourself.
HOW YOUR BRAIN PROCESSES INFORMATION
Here’s a great video outlining how your brain processes information. http://www.brainfacts.org/Core-Concepts/How-Your-Brain-Processes-Information
More information about the brain can be found here: https://www.dana.org/
How does the Brain Work?
Enjoy fast-paced informational videos? The Crash Course YouTube station offers a great intro to neuroscience that will have you up to speed in under fifteen minutes.
Resources for Classroom Activities
For student-friendly readings about the brain, check out Neuroscience for Kids. Washington University has a list of neuroscience activities and experiments that you can do with students into explore neuroscience. .
How does the brain work? Watch this TED Talk playlist of experts explaining different aspects of the brain.
The Best Apps for Your Brain
This popular app is split into sessions of three games tailored to your goals: memory, attention, problem solving, processing speed or flexibility of thinking. The games are played against the clock and change every time. Developers say just one session a day can improve mental skills and users can track progress and compare performance with others. (Free for limited access, upgrade for $15 a month or $80 a year; available for iOS)
- CogniFit Brain Fitness
Improve cognitive abilities, such as memory and concentration, with sleek, fun and addictive games designed by neuroscientists. Users can track progress and access insights about overall brain health. Competitive players can challenge friends, too. After an initial quiz, the app adapts each game’s difficulty to your profile and gives you recommendations based on your results. Developers found that users saw improvement by spending at least 20 minutes, two to three times a week, playing the games. (Free for four games or full subscription for $13 a month or $120; available for iOS)
- Personal Zen
Players follow two animated characters, one of which looks calm and friendly while the other looks angry, as they burrow through a field of rustling grass. This game, developed by Dr. Dennis and researchers from Hunter College and the City University of New York, reduces anxiety by training your brain to focus more on the positive and less on the negative. “The habit of thinking about the world in a more positive light — like looking for a silver lining in a bad situation — is one of the key ways we can promote our own resilience in the face of adversity,” says Dr. Dennis. Even a single session of play can build resilience over several hours. She suggests using the app right before a stressful event, but 10 minutes a day will help build more enduring positive effects. (Free; available for iOS)
- Brain Trainer Special
Like Lumosity, this Android app contains games that have you memorizing letter sequences, phone numbers and solving assorted math problems to keep your mind in tip-top shape. Difficulty levels range from easy to brain-tingling hard. (Free; available on Google Play)
- Brain Fitness Pro
Brain Fitness Pro employs a series of memory training exercises to increase focus, memory and problem-solving skills. Developers say that intensive working memory training dramatically increases attention and general cognitive skills and that these benefits remain long term. ($4; available for iOS)
BEST GAMES FOR YOUR BRAIN
Just as you’d lift weights and do cardio, you can maximize cognitive fitness with various types of exercise, says Gary Small, MD, director of the UCLA Longevity Center and co-author of 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain. Rotate activities that focus on these areas:
Language: Scrabble, word scrambles
Visual-Spatial: mazes, jigsaws
Problem Solving: chess, sudoku, logic games
Memory and Concentration: Trivial Pursuit, match games like Candy Crush
Here’s a fabulous blog from BrainHQ with 26 fun things you can do right now to celebrate brain awareness week: https://blog.brainhq.com/2014/03/10/26-fun-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-celebrate-brain-awareness-week/
Here’s an article on Oprah.com about the best brain games you can check out.
BEST TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY BLOGS
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is brain damage resulting from a sudden blow or jolt to the head. Different situations can cause these injuries, such as a fall, an auto accident, physical assault, sports injuries, or being struck in the head by an object. At least 1.7 million cases of TBI occur in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TBI is serious and can trigger problems with behavior, cognitive ability, communication, and sensation. Some survivors are unable to maintain their independence. And because of the abrupt shift in the person’s life, the condition is also challenging for family members.
Whether you’re looking for coping tips or want to read about people who are in similar situations, these blogs provide the assistance you need and deserve:
- Brainline.org is an excellent resource for information related to TBI, including prevention, treatment, and coping advice. It’s not just a resource for people living with the condition, but it’s also a fantastic tool for family and friends seeking information and guidance. What’s more, the site hosts four personal blogs written by people with various perspectives on TBI, including spouses and caregivers. Visit the blog
- The Journey Home by the Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia has no shortage of information related to TBI. This site is an outstanding resource, whether you’re a patient, caregiver, relative, or friend. The more you understand about TBI, the easier it is to cope as a survivor or loved one. You’ll find articles related to mild, moderate, and severe TBI, as well as information on how caregivers can begin their journey. Visit the blog.
- BrainInjury.com offers one of the largest collections of online information related to brain injury. The site does an excellent job educating its readers and increasing awareness about TBI. Whether it’s information on symptoms and causes of brain injuries or about the latest medical research, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for here. The blog also shares moving, powerful stories from people with TBIs and what recovery has been like for them. Visit the blog.
- This blog by publishing company Lash & Associates gives survivors and their caregivers a voice. Here, you’ll find personal journey stories and a range of general information about TBI, such as care and treatment options. You’ll also read about the emotional toll these injuries can have on survivors and loved ones, including posts on grieving, loss, acceptance, and using words to heal.Visit the blog.
- Cavin Balaster started this blog to document his recovery after a two-story fall in 2011. Over time, his blog evolved into a resource for helping other survivors in their journey to better health. It’s an excellent place for solace, support, and expert insight. Watch a video on ways to stimulate your brain or check out the many podcasts offering advice for a successful recovery. Visit the blog.
- It’s been 21 years since Kara Swanson’s brain injury. Her blog is a tool to educate her readers and chronicle her recovery. She offers motivation, a dose of reality, and advice on coping through the recovery process. Kara talks through her highs and lows while maintaining a positive outlook on life. Visit her blog.
- A car accident in 2000 left Shireen Jeejeebhoy with a closed head injury. The injury occurred while she was in the middle of writing a book manuscript, and she had to put the project on hold as she relearned how to write and read. As her recovery progressed, she was able to complete the manuscript in 2006. She uses her blog as an instrument to share what she’s learned about brain injuries.Visit the blog.
- “Who Am I to Stop It” is a documentary that explores the not-so-pretty side of living with a brain injury, such as the isolation, loneliness, and negative stigmas. On the filmmakers’ blog, they share personal stories, podcasts, advice on personal growth, and how you can use art as a healing tool. Visit the blog.
Here’s a list of celebrity advocates and/or celebrities who have suffered a brain injury.
BEST TIPS TO SUPPORT THOSE WITH BRAIN INJURY
These tips come from hopeafterbraininjury.org. Here’s a few tips that may be helpful to all of us when supporting those with brain injury:
- Listen with patience.
- Include the family in therapy.
- Educate yourself about brain injury.
- Be mindful of sensory issues…make adjustments to your home, car, etc.
- Celebrate small victories.
- Hold on to hope as a life preserver. HOPE is HUGE!
- Know community and medical resources.
- Allow silence. Allow for cognitive processing.
- Develop coping strategies.
- Write things down.
OTHER BRAIN INJURY RESOURCES
Here are resources from around the web to complement your learning:
National Institutes of Health: https://nihrecord.nih.gov/index.asp
Brain facts: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/ffacts.html
Alzheimer’s Association brain info: https://www.alz.org/brain-health/brain_health_overview.asp
Neuroscience Initiative from The University of Utah: https://neuroscienceinitiative.utah.edu/
The whole brain atlas: http://www.med.harvard.edu/AANLIB/home.html
Explore the human brain from The Franklin Institute: https://www.fi.edu/exhibit/your-brain
Explore your brain and nervous system: http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/brain.html
National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
Pain and why it hurts: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/pain.html
Short term memory test: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/stm0.html
How we laugh: http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/the-laughing-brain-1/
United States Brain Injury Alliance: http://usbia.org/
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: http://www.nctsn.org/resources/public-awareness/national-brain-injury-awareness-month%20
Elizabeth Dole Foundation: https://www.elizabethdolefoundation.org/brain-injury-awareness-month/
Brain Injury Guide and Resources: http://braininjuryeducation.org/
Family Caregiver Alliance: https://www.caregiver.org/traumatic-brain-injury
Navigating the System: A Guide for People with Traumatic Brain Injury and Their Families
Anything and everything about what TBI is, how to manage in the hospital, in rehabilitation, at home, with children and more. It’s one of the most comprehensive sites I’ve seen with answers questions around brain injury.
Here’s a link to a checklist with TBI symptoms.
HOW HAS BRAIN INJURY IMPACTED YOUR LIFE? Please comment below!
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