March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Each year in the United States, approximately 1.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. The severity of such an injury may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after injury.

A person suffering from a TBI can have short-term or long-term problems with memory and their ability to function independently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that at least 5.3 million Americans who have suffered from a TBI need assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing and other activities of daily living.

“Each year 235,000 Americans are hospitalized with a TBI,” says Scott Craig, M.D., medical director at Van Matre HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Rockford. “Because these injuries are an insult to the brain, they can cause a wide variety of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. Once they are medically stable, it is extremely important for these individuals to enter into a specialized brain injury rehabilitation program where a team of physicians, nurses, licensed speech, occupational and physical therapists and psychologists work together to help the patient regain skills and function lost due to the injury,” said Craig. “Fortunately, with the type of intense inpatient rehabilitation available at Van Matre, we have found that over 85 percent of the TBI patients we treated last year were able to return home,” he added.

For more information on traumatic brain injury or support services, contact the Brain Injury Association of Illinois at 1-800-699-6443 and on the web at or Van Matre HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital at 1-815-381-8500.

Van Matre HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital is a 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Rockford, serving the rehab needs of the people of Rockford and the northern Illinois region. Van Matre is partnership between Rockford Health System and HealthSouth Corporation. Van Matre’s inpatient brain injury rehabilitation program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

HealthSouth is the nation’s largest provider of inpatient rehabilitative health care services. HealthSouth can be found on the Web at

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