POCATELLO, ID – Many Idahoans may be suffering from undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries resulting from battlefield conflicts, high school sports injuries, automobile accidents and even incidents where seniors have fallen down. Given the growing magnitude of these injuries, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is joining with the Idaho Doctors Hospital, the Aegis Research Institute at Bingham Memorial Hospital, the Institute of Rural Health at Idaho State University and many Idaho physicians to launch the Idaho Traumatic Brain Injury Summit. The Summit will be held Tuesday, May 28, 2013, on the campus of Idaho State University.
According to physicians at the Idaho Doctors Hospital in Blackfoot, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is at near-epidemic proportions in the United States. Despite the prevalence of TBI, there remains a critical need for improved diagnosis and treatment in order to increase survival rates and improve quality of life for TBI patients. The CDC reports that TBI is a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all injury-related deaths in the U.S.
This is Idaho’s first major forum on TBI injuries and treatment. In November 2012, the Aegis Research Institute at Bingham Memorial Hospital announced it has been selected to participate in the National Brain Injury Rescue and Rehabilitation Study. The study, conducted by the International Hyperbaric Medical Association, is focused on the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in treating TBI. Other interested Idahoans will also be in attendance, representing the diversity of those impacted by TBI. Twin Falls Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Wiley Dobbs, is expected to attend, as is Ms. Pamela Dowd. Ms. Dowd’s daughter, Brenna, lost her life following her TBI, prompting Ms. Dowd to travel through 21 states to raise awareness about the severity of such injuries.
Among the other local experts speaking at the Traumatic Brain Injury Summit:
Mary Himmler, MD, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist at Fort Hood, will present information on TBI among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and the typical recovery and treatment process. Previously, she treated soldiers with TBI at Walter Reed Medical Center.
Lt. Col. Mary Kelly, Transition Assistance Advisor at the Joint Forces Personnel Readiness Center in Boise, will discuss the transition from military to civilian life for TBI survivors.
Judge Rick Carnaroli, Idaho’s Presiding Justice over the Veterans’ Treatment Court from the 6th District, will discuss TBI issues relating to Idaho’s criminal justice system.
Russ Spearman, Director of the ISU Institute of Rural Health’s Traumatic Brain Injury Network, will address Idaho-based needs and potential solutions available through public health and health policy systems.
Dr. Wiley Dobbs, Superintendent of Twin Falls School District, will present information on TBI as it relates to middle and high school sports injuries.
Dr. Bernadette Howlett, Director of the Aegis Research Institute, will present an overview of TBI and its epidemiology.
Jim Jones, a Vietnam veteran and study volunteer, will discuss treatment and recovery options related to TBI and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Barb Fox, who received a TBI in a car accident, will discuss her treatment and recovery from both TBI and PTSD as a civilian.
Pamela Dowd will focus on family involvement and health insurance issues related to TBI, from her personal experience through the death of her daughter, Brenna, from complications of a TBI She is the author of “Condemned to Die — Ask Me How, Tell Me Why”, and the founder of both the Brenna’s Hope Foundation and the website, LuvURBrain.org.
Jeff Hampsten, owner of Idaho Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, will speak about research on the efficacy of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as a treatment for TBI.
The event is co-sponsored by the ISU Division of Health Sciences and ISU’s Institute of Rural Health, the Healing Center at Idaho Doctors Hospital, and the Aegis Research Institute at Bingham Memorial Hospital.
A TBI is defined as one or more concussions caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 3.5 million people experience a TBI every year—some so serious they lead to death or permanent disability.
Those at high risk for TBI include soldiers injured by roadside bombs, athletes and people injured in car crashes.
“We already provide the best available care for TBI. But we believe we can achieve better outcomes by employing cutting-edge research to identify even better treatments that have long-lasting positive effects without the risks associated with the medications currently used,” said Louis Kraml, chief executive officer of Idaho Doctors Hospital and Bingham Memorial Hospital.
“A comprehensive strategy for TBI is needed because it is a complex problem that not only impacts the health and functioning of the injured individual, but also their family members and employers,” said Russell Spearman, TBI program director for the state of Idaho and a senior research associate at the ISU Institute of Health.
TBI has reached epidemic proportions. The Congressional Brain Injury Task Force reports that the national cost of TBI is estimated to be $60 billion annually.
Idaho’s strategy for addressing the TBI epidemic must include education, prevention, early detection and intervention, provision of the most effective therapies and rehabilitation, as well as community health strategies, according to event organizers.