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In the News Brain Injury Awareness Month – Part II

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Continued from Part I…


An acquired brain injury (ABI) is an “injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. Essentially, this type of brain injury is one that has occurred after birth. The injury results in a change to the brain’s neuronal activity, which affects the physical integrity, metabolic activity, or functional ability of nerve cells in the brain.” 

traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as an “alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force. Traumatic impact injuries can be defined as closed (or non-penetrating) or open (penetrating).”

Often referred to as an acquired brain injury, a non-traumatic brain injury causes” damage to the brain by internal factors, such as a lack of oxygen, exposure to toxins, pressure from a tumor, etc.”

Examples of traumatic brain injuries include falls, assaults, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, abusive head trauma, gunshot wounds, workplace injuries, child or domestic abuse, and military actions. 

Non-traumatic brain injuries include stroke, hemorrhage, blood clot, infectious disease, meningitis, seizure, electric shock, tumors, neurotoxic poisoning, lack of oxygen, drug overdose, and aneurysm. 

Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two brain injuries are exactly alike. For some, brain injury is the start of a lifelong disease process. Brain injury requires access to a full continuum of treatment and community-based supports provided by appropriately educated clinicians serving on an interdisciplinary treatment team.

The individual who sustains a brain injury and his or her family are the most important members of the treatment team. Their choices, goals, and backgrounds will be taken into consideration when it comes to the appropriate treatment.

In the News Brain Injury Awareness Month – Part I

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Every March in the United States we recognize Brain Injury Awareness. Brain injuries are unpredictable in its consequences and change everything about a person in a matter of seconds.


Here we look at some aspects, causes, and treatments of brain injuries and remind those that have either personally suffered a brain injury or are caring for a loved one with a brain injury, that you are not alone. 

Understanding the brain. 

The brain is divided into sections called lobes. Each lobe has an important and specific function. The lobes and some of their functions are: 

Frontal Lobe: attention, concentration, organization, problem solving.

Temporal Lobe: memory, receptive language, hearing.

Parietal Lobe: sense of touch, depth perception, identification of shapes, sizes, colors.

Occipital Lobe: vision.

Cerebellum: balance and coordination.

Brain Stem: breathing, heart rate, sleep and wake cycles.

Damage to specific lobes. 

An injury to the frontal lobes may affect an individual’s ability to control emotions, impulses, and behavior or may cause difficulty recalling events or speaking. 

An injury to the temporal lobes may lead individuals to demonstrate difficulty with communication or memory. 

Individuals who have injured their parietal lobes may have trouble with their five primary senses. 

An injury to one’s occipital lobes may lead to trouble seeing or perceiving the size and shape of objects.  

An injury to the cerebellum may affect balance, movement, and coordination.  

The brain stem controls the body’s involuntary functions that are essential for survival, such as breathing and heart rate.

Healthy Living Mental Health Care Tips for Winter

Written by Lisa Jillanza

The winter months can be very challenging for many people. Besides the stress of the holidays, money, and just feeling like you don’t have enough time to do what needs to be done, we lose the luxury of getting outdoors to de-stress. And losing precious hours of daylight doesn’t help either.  But there are a few ways that you can still take care of yourself and your mental health during the winter months. Here are a few of those tips.

  • Watch your news intake. If you feel negatively impacted by the news, limit your exposure. Some people spend hours in front of the television watching cable news and getting fired up by the political drama. Try limiting your news exposure to 15 minutes, then shifting your attention to something more uplifting. The same applies to scrolling through social media apps. Limit your time and move on to a more rewarding activity.
  • Bundle up and go outside. Regular exercise is not only healthy for your body, but also for your mind. As little as 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day can boost your energy, help you sleep better and improve your mood thanks to chemicals that are released in your brain. Being in nature has also been shown to relax your mind.
  • Meditation is a good practice, even if only for five to ten minutes a day.
  • Start a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal can significantly elevate your mood and mental outlook. At the end of each day, write down at least one thing that you are grateful for that day. It can be as minor as, “I enjoyed the sandwich I ate for lunch.” What tends to happen is the nature of your thoughts will change. You’ll start paying more attention to the happier moments, shifting your narrative from negative to positive.


In the News: The Pandemic and Your Mental Health – Part III

Written by Lisa Jillanza

(…Continued from Part II)


Unfortunately, some disorders related to mental health, thrive in isolation situations. Lockdowns created more opportunities for domestic violence and child abuse fueled by drugs, alcohol, and financial struggle. 

Relapses of addiction, eating disorders, obesity due to inactivity, and overall suicidal thoughts/actions were also exacerbated by the pandemic; all disorders that are related to mental health. 

So, many will ask, where do we go from here? The most obvious answer is to talk about it. Seek out friends, family or even a professional to get your thoughts out. Oftentimes, counseling is enough for people to realize that they are not alone in their thoughts of anxiety or depression. 

Others may need to seek medical advice and can benefit from a prescription medication to help get some relief. Another great way to help combat mental health conditions, is to find something that helps you take away those feelings of grief, anxiety, or depression – take up a hobby, exercise, or do something positive for someone else.

And most importantly, don’t be afraid to reach out! If you are afraid that you or someone you know might hurt themselves or someone else, call 911 immediately.

Some other numbers to keep handy include:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

In the News: The Pandemic and Your Mental Health – Part II

Written by Lisa Jillanza

(…Continued from Part I)

Reading those types of statistics can make anyone even more depressed, but there are some good things and positive statistics that have come out of the pandemic, too.

  • 76% of Americans believe that their mental health is just as important as their physical health.
  • 45% of Americans received some sort of mental health service in the past year.

According to a CNN report, “The mental burden of the pandemic has facilitated more honesty and empathy around mental health, which is key to dismantling the stigma that deters some individuals from seeking help.”

Another positive aspect is that people have been reaching out for help or even serving others – as being kind has its own mental health benefits. Telehealth also has seen an uptick when it comes to mental health counseling. Telehealth can be more accessible and easier for some people, thereby having a positive effect and utilized by more people who are suffering.

Talking about mental health is also key to breaking down the barriers to getting help.  Many of us saw this play out with the recent Summer Olympic Games with gold-medalist Simone Biles speaking out about her mental health issues and her decision to pull out of some of the events she was to compete in. Other athletes, celebrities, and figure heads, all joined in to support Biles and speak out about their own experiences with mental health conditions.  Experts suggest that “normalizing” mental health has many more positive effects on the public.

The CNN report goes on to say that “Every time we talk about public health, we should talk about mental health. And every time we talk about COVID-19, we should talk about mental health." 

(…Continued in Part III)