Understanding traumatic brain injuries

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BRAXTON COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) - With 85 percent of cases being mild, traumatic brain injuries are often referred to as the silent epidemic.

"Traumatic brain injury is an insult to the brain caused from an external force," explains member of the Traumatic Brain Advisory Board Ginger Dearth.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are something Brad Anderson knows about all too well. He's a survivor of a traumatic brain injury that happened to him nearly ten years ago.

"In my case, it was an assault. I was traveling for work and I was in Florida on business and some bad people thought I had money and mugged me and attacked me and my injury was a result of that" says traumatic brain injury survivor Brad Anderson.

Anderson says that his injury has affected his entire life.

"I'm not able to go back to the career I had and it's just an omnipresent disability," says Anderson.

The majority of traumatic brain injuries affect the frontal lobe of your brain and that includes your cognitive skills and executive functions like judgment, planning, and speech. Anderson's frontal lobe was affected slightly by his injury, but his parietal and temporal lobes took the biggest hit.

"I had a piece of my skill taken out to let my brain swell and then months later put back on, was in a coma for a few weeks, a natural coma and then addition to that, a medically induced coma, I had to relearn how to walk and talk," says Anderson.

Now Anderson is the lead advocate of the Brain Injury Group of West Virginia, and he says that conferences like this one help not only to educate but also to integrate.

"Conferences like these and also in support groups, like the one I'm involved with, give survivors an opportunity to make new friends without the fear of being judged or without being so different," says Anderson.

The TBI conference is a three-day event, tomorrow's focus is on mild traumatic brain injuries.

Anderson encourages any TBI survivor to join the Brain Injury Group of West Virginia. For more information on this call (304) 894-8339.