When I read that Kentucky’s rates for brain injury is more than twice the national average, it didn’t seem right. Wouldn’t something so widespread garner a lot of attention? I can’t remember the last time someone warned me about brain injury, yet it is twice as common as HIV, breast cancer, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis combined.
But the numbers don’t lie. One in five households in the state are affected by brain injuries, which can occur after a fall, stroke, trauma, anoxia, infection, tumors or other illnesses. Though no definitive answer exists as to why Kentucky’s brain injury rate is so much higher than other states, one thing does seem certain: More attention on the issue is warranted.
That is partially why the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky was created, and why the nonprofit is holding a fundraising walk this Saturday in Downtown Louisville. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Belvedere and is $30 per person, though children under the age of 12 may walk for free. The Brain Walk itself begins at 10 a.m. and includes both a walk route and a stroll route. Local celebrity Angie Fenton will emcee.
Money raised will support BIAK, whose goals include advocacy, education, prevention, research, service and support. This includes everything from pushing for healthcare companies to better cover brain injuries to handing out free helmets to children as a preventive message. According to BIAK, over half of brain injuries occur before the age of 21, and many could have been prevented.
“We’re starting to bring more attention to the issue,” says BIAK event coordinator Coleen Mahon. “I didn’t even believe the statistics myself when I first started.”
Mahon adds that attitude changed quickly when she found herself affected by a brain injury – a concussion. “When it affects you, you start to hear stories about other people, too. You start to realize how common it is.”
For more information on BIAK, visit their website.