Doctor Q&A on Brain Injury Awareness Month

Who better than well-known neurosurgeon Dr. Evan Packer to help educate the public as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Every day, 153 Americans die from traumatic brain-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Brain Injury Association of America estimates more than 5.3 million children and adults in the U.S., are living with a permanent brain injury-related disability. They can experience changes in thinking, memory, behavior, movement, emotional stability and may even require a caregiver.

“To help de-stigmatize the topic, it is important to understand brain injuries, discuss options for prevention, and review access to care and support services for those who have sustained this kind of trauma,” said Packer, managing partner at the Brain and Spine Center of South Florida.  He is also an affiliate assistant professor at Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University.

Q: What kind of brain injuries do you see in your medical practice? Is it all emergencies?

A: We work at a trauma center, so sometimes there’s a fall in an elderly person or [the use of] blood thinners. It can be spontaneous.

Q: How is this kind of brain injury avoidable?

A: You can take appropriate safety steps. If you’re riding a bike or a motorcycle, wear a helmet. Wear a seat belt in the car. Drive safely and proactively. There’s nothing [you can do] once the injury happens, so take precautions. A child riding a bike can fall off. It’s being careful.

Q: Isn’t it up to the medical provider to present options after a brain injury happens?

A: With appropriate rehabilitation and family support. It’s up to the patient’s individual health and their ability to recover and the injury itself.

Q: Are there any new treatments on the horizon?

A: There are less invasive surgeries once the injuries occur, with more accurate navigation and brain mapping. There’s research studies for medications. We’re always looking at advances for brain tumor surgeries. It’s an evolving field.

By Marci Shatzman


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