Shining a Light on the Epidemic of Traumatic Brain Injuries During Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Did you know that millions of Americans are hospitalized and treated for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) every year? It’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls TBI “a serious health problem in the United States.”

You might know a fair amount about TBIs, including concussions, thanks to the awareness spread about such issues in the NFL and other professional sports leagues, but the problem goes well beyond athletes. And that’s why we’re joining the health community this month to shine a light on TBI in America.

Who’s Affected by Traumatic Brain Injuries?

TBI doesn’t discriminate and is a major cause of death and disability in our country, especially among adolescents and children. In fact, TBIs contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths, or about 50,000 deaths, per year, according to the latest data from the CDC.

A TBI is caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. And while not all impacts to the head result in TBI, the severity of these injuries can range from mild to severe. These are some of the leading causes of TBI:

  • Falls
  • Sports/Recreation Injuries
  • Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome)
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Workplace Injuries
  • Assaults and Gunshot Wounds

Military action is also a leading cause of TBIs — affecting a large number of America’s servicemen and servicewomen. According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, there have been nearly 383,000 of these injuries diagnosed among service members in the past 18 years. And because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased the number of veterans with TBI, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now mandates TBI screenings for all veterans getting care from the VA.

Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury

Everyone who has TBI experiences it a little bit differently, so the symptoms of TBI can vary greatly from person to person. Only a health care provider can diagnose TBI accurately, and the symptoms outlined below do not automatically mean a person has a TBI, so see a doctor if you or someone you know have any questions or are in need of diagnosis.

Some immediate signs of TBI include:

  • Being Dazed and Confused
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • No Memory of the Injury

In addition, the following symptoms may occur well after the TBI has occurred:

  • Persistent Pain in the Neck or a Headache
  • Light and Noise Sensitivity
  • Loss of Balance
  • Loss of Sense of Smell and Taste
  • Fatigue or Lack of Energy
  • Slurred Speech
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Nausea

The Danger of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (Concussions)

Concussions are the most common form of TBI. But even though they are often considered the most mild form, these TBIs can still be especially damaging to the brain.

Because people who sustain a concussion don’t necessarily have a visible injury, pass out immediately, or show signs of injury right away, many don’t seek medical attention until well after a TBI has occurred. With that in mind, it’s important to monitor someone who you think may have a concussion and look for the symptoms of TBI. If any of the signs appear, even well after the fact, you should take him or her to the ER as soon as possible.

How Traumatic Brain Injuries Affect People

Brain injuries affect people in complex ways, and the effects a TBI can have on someone’s life can be devastating.

Depending on the severity, adults who’ve experienced a TBI may have difficulty re-adjusting to life at home, returning to work, managing their overall health, or even maintaining relationships. TBI is an especially unique condition because it affects everyone, not just the person who was injured.

For children, TBI can cause several physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments that impact their development. These can result in delays in education or financial stress for the affected family.

Brain Injury Support Groups in Southern Maryland

At UM Charles Regional Medical Center, we strive to take an active role in the management of and recovery from TBIs.

We regularly host free support group meetings here at the hospital for members of the community who’ve been affected by a brain injury or stroke as well as their family members. At these meetings, our team shares special educational materials, hosts question-and-answer sessions, and often welcomes guest speakers.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a TBI or stroke, we invite you to call (301) 609-4890 to learn more today. And if you know anyone who would benefit from attending one of these meetings, we hope you’ll share our event page with them on Facebook.

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3 Reasons to Get the Flu Shot Now

Get the Seasonal Flu Vaccine

With all that you have going on in your everyday life, it’s easy to see why so many people put off getting the seasonal flu vaccine. But what if we told you getting it now, rather than later, is one of the most important things you can do for your health and the health of others?

Here are 3 reasons why there’s no reason to put off getting vaccinated this flu season.

It Takes About Two Weeks for Vaccine Antibodies to Develop

Unfortunately, the seasonal flu vaccine doesn’t offer instant protection. Because it takes up to two weeks for the vaccine antibodies to fully develop in your body, you’ll want to get your flu shot before the flu starts spreading around you. December is generally when peak flu season begins, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting vaccinated in October.

Getting the Vaccine Protects Others Around You

Even if you’re the type of person that “never gets sick,” receiving the seasonal flu vaccine is an important part of preserving overall community wellness. When more people get vaccinated, those who are especially vulnerable to the effects of the seasonal flu — infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems — benefit.

It Doesn’t Take Long and Can Save You Money in the Long Run

In most cases, getting the vaccine takes a matter of minutes. In addition, many insurance plans will cover the cost of getting the seasonal flu vaccine, and others will offer it with a minimal co-pay option.

Don’t forget, the Charles County Department of Health sponsors numerous free flu vaccine clinics throughout the fall. Here’s where you can find the upcoming clinics:

Tuesday, October 17 | 4:30-7pm  – Mattawoman Middle School (Waldorf)
Thursday, October 19 | 3-7pm – La Plata High School
Friday, October 27 | 2-6pm – Charles County Dept. of Health (White Plains)
Tuesday, November 2 | 10am-2pm – Piccowaxen Middle School (White Plains)
Thursday, November 4 | 10am-2pm – Charles County Dept. of Health (White Plains)
Tuesday, November 7 | 4pm-7pm – Smallwood Middle School (Indian Head)
Tuesday, November 14 | 3pm-7pm – Thomas Stone High School (Waldorf)
Thursday, November 16 | 3pm-7pm – La Plata High School
Thursday, December 14 | 3pm-7pm – Charles County Dept. of Health (White Plains)

Alternatively, UM Charles Regional Urgent Care is a convenient location to receive the vaccine as well. Avoid costly medical expenses by getting your flu shot early — remember, it’s far better to prevent the flu than having to recover from it.

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UM Charles Regional Urgent Care Takes the Stress Out of High School Sports Physicals

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Getting your child’s high school sports physical shouldn’t be a hassle, so UM Charles Regional Urgent Care is making it easy.

If your son or daughter is getting ready play this fall, the experienced, compassionate team at La Plata’s most convenient urgent care practice is here to make sure they’re ready to go. Here’s how UM Charles Regional Urgent Care is taking the stress out of getting a high school sports physical.

You Can Get it Done on Your Schedule
Your life is busy — we get that. So UM Charles Regional Urgent Care offers flexible hours, seven days a week. From 9am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-6pm on weekends, your child can come by and get the high school sports physical they need, right here in La Plata.

You Don’t Need an Appointment
Unlike your family doctor, UM Charles Regional Urgent Care doesn’t require you to set an appointment ahead of time. Something change in your schedule and can’t make it? No problem. Just come by whenever you’re ready!

You Can Avoid Long Wait Times
Before you head over to UM Charles Regional Urgent Care, see estimated wait times and check in online ahead of time. You’ll be able to spend more time at home and less time sitting in a waiting room.

Have any questions about high school sports physicals completed at UM Charles Regional Urgent Care or need directions? Call (301) 609-4699 or visit our urgent care website today.

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UM Charles Regional Medical Center Honored for Stroke Treatment Excellence

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We’re proud to announce that UM Charles Regional Medical Center has once again been honored by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for excellence in treating stroke patients.

Recognized with a Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and a Target: Stroke℠ Honor Roll Elite designation as part of the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke® program, our hospital has continued to provide quick diagnoses and prompt interventions for patients suffering from strokes.

Which hospitals receive these designations?

Hospitals that receive a Get with the Guidelines Gold Plus Achievement Award and an Honor Roll Elite Designation have reached a high standard of treating stroke patients with 85 percent or higher compliance to core standard levels of care as outlined by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for 24 consecutive months. In addition, this recognition means that the awarded hospital has demonstrated that it meets stroke quality measures during the 12-month period.

These quality measures are designed to help hospitals follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines to speed recovery and reduce death and disability for stroke patients.

Why is speed so important?

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability, but many of its long-term, most damaging effects can be avoided or minimized with immediate medical intervention.

What do these awards mean to the community?

We are so honored by this award because of what it represents for our community. As a Primary Stroke Center, we are committed to maintaining a heightened state of readiness for stroke patients so that we can deliver rapid, expert care when it’s needed most.

About Get With The Guidelines®

Get With The Guidelines® puts the unparalleled expertise of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to work for hospitals nationwide, helping hospital care teams ensure the care provided to patients is aligned with the latest research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. Developed with the goal to save lives and hasten recovery, Get With The Guidelines programs have touched the lives of more than 6 million patients since 2001. For more information, visit heart.org.

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Learn the Warning Signs and the Leading Cause of Stroke During American Stroke Month

American Stroke Month

Did you know that stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disabilities for Americans?

Did you also know that 80% of strokes can be avoided? That’s right, strokes, which claim the lives of more than 133,000 Americans every year, are largely preventable, according to the American Stroke Association (ASA).

That’s why we’re proud proponents of American Stroke Month, which takes place every May. This year, the ASA is focusing its efforts on spreading awareness about stroke symptoms as well as the leading cause of strokes, high blood pressure.

How to Spot the Symptoms of Stroke — Think F.A.S.T.
Your ability to spot stroke symptoms and act quickly might mean the difference between life and death or between a full recovery and long-term disability. Want an easy way to remember the warning signs? Just think F.A.S.T.

Face Drooping — Does one side of the face droop or feel numb? Ask the person to smile and see if it appears uneven.

Arm Weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms and watch if one drifts downward.

Speech Difficulty/Slurring — Is speech slurred or hard to understand, even for simple sentences?

Time to Call 911 — If you or someone else shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 immediately.

The Leading Cause of Stroke? High Blood Pressure.
Although the risk of stroke increases as you age, strokes can occur at any age, and they affect people of every race and gender. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to reduce your individual risk.

Beyond family history and other unavoidable health factors that contribute to your risk level, your lifestyle choices, including smoking, diet and exercise habits, play a pivotal role in determining your likelihood of having a stroke.

The ASA emphasizes that high blood pressure makes people more vulnerable than any other factor, however. That’s because high blood pressure increases your chances of having a clot or rupture interrupt blood flow to the brain. They also note that 1 in 6 adults with high blood pressure doesn’t know he or she has it, so this is the perfect month to go get your blood pressure checked.

Visit our Online Health Library to learn more about high blood pressure, its contributing factors and ways you can work on lowering your blood pressure. In addition, you should also take our Stroke Risk Assessment to understand your risk for having a stroke — it takes just a couple minutes, and it could make all the difference.

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Your Living Room is the New UM Charles Regional Urgent Care Waiting Room

Skip the Waiting Room

What if you could forgo the waiting room the next time you went to get treatment for an illness or injury?

At UM Charles Regional Urgent Care, now you can do just that.

If you visited the CharlesRegionalUrgentCare.com recently, you may have noticed that our website now features an estimated wait time tool to make planning your visit to urgent care even more convenient. This tool gives patients real-time updates on the estimated waiting time for treatment at urgent care.

We know that not everyone can fit in an urgent care visit into their busy schedule the moment injury or illness strike, so we’re also making it possible to check in before you arrive at urgent care, even allowing next-day check-ins ahead of time. By choosing your estimated arrival time, you’ll be able to receive priority care once you arrive.

Of course, no appointments are ever necessary at our new urgent care practice, but this new feature gives patients the option to wait for a treatment time from the comfort of home, rather than in a waiting room.

We understand that illness and injury are never convenient, so we’re working to make sure that UM Charles Regional Urgent Care always will be.

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Become a “Stroke Hero” During American Stroke Month

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Count to 40. In the time that you do so, someone in the United States will have suffered from a stroke.

Stroke claims the lives of 130,000 Americans every year, making it the fifth leading cause of death in our country. It’s the leading cause of disability in the U.S., and it’s estimated that one out of six people will suffer a stroke in his or her lifetime. And while people of certain demographics are at greater risk to have a stroke, strokes can occur at any age and aren’t limited to any race, sex, ethnicity or genetic predisposition.

But according to the American Stroke Association, one in three Americans is unable to identify all the stroke warning signs. And many Americans still do not think of stroke as a major health concern to themselves or others. To get a better understanding of the misconceptions surrounding stroke, check out this video:

That’s why we’re proud to support the American Stroke Association in their mission to create as many “Stroke Heroes” as possible throughout the month of May as part of American Stroke Month.

How can you become a Stroke Hero? All it takes is knowing the warning signs of a stroke and acting F.A.S.T.

F-ace drooping — Does one side of the face droop or feel numb? Ask the person to smile and watch if it appears uneven.

A-rm weakness/numbness — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms and watch if one drifts downward.

S-peech difficulty/slurring — Is speech slurred? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and listen if it’s hard to understand.

T-ime to call 911 — If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 immediately. And remember to note the time that the symptoms appeared.

Your ability to spot stroke symptoms and act quickly by calling 911 might mean the difference between life and death or between full recovery and lifelong disability.

This is a great time to start working towards reducing your risk of stroke as well. Certain lifestyle choices, like smoking, can lead to an increased risk, so it’s important to understand which habits you should be working to eliminate. To help you understand your individual risk, we have a helpful stroke risk assessment — simply answer a few questions about your health and lifestyle, and you’ll instantly have a better idea at what kind of risk you face.

Think you’ve got a firm grasp on the symptoms and potential risk factors? Take our simple stroke quiz or the American Stroke Association’s F.A.S.T. quiz to find out if you’re on the right track.

For even more information, visit our Online Health Library or click here to see why UM Charles Regional Medical Center was named a Primary Stroke Center by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

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Easy Ways to Fight the Flu This Year

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Before the flu gets you, learn to fight back.

There are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy now that flu season is upon us. It all starts with getting vaccinated. The Charles County Department of Health has flu shots and nasal mist vaccinations available to residents at no charge.

Beyond that, the Maryland Department of Health recommends the following easy steps that you can take each day to protect yourself and limit the spread of influenza:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
  • Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If tissues are not available, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • If you do become ill, keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.

If — despite your best efforts — you do come down with the flu, we have some good news. The new UM Charles Regional Urgent Care is now open and accepting patients in downtown La Plata. Our staff of experienced and compassionate medical professionals will make sure you get the best care possible, so you can feel better fast.

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Flu Season Is Here — Get Vaccinated!

Flu season is upon us.

The seasonal flu is an extremely contagious virus that puts senior citizens, young children and people with existing medical conditions at risk for serious complications. It’s a debilitating illness for everyone who experiences it. 

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Fortunately, you can protect yourself. Getting vaccinated is an easy way to prevent sickness this flu season, and the Charles County Department of Health will be hosting several free flu immunization clinics through October and November. Click here to see the full list of 2015 immunization clinics.

If you do get sick with the flu this year, UM Charles Regional Urgent Care is now open and is here to help. It features extended hours with no appointment necessary, so you can start feeling better sooner. Learn more about the new urgent care center on the official website.

The flu can spread from person-to-person even before any symptoms are present, and it remains contagious for several days after symptoms have started.

Here are the primary symptoms that an infected individual will usually experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Dry Cough
  • Muscle Aches
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Sore Throat
  • Headache
  • Nasal Congestion

While these are less common symptoms, an infected individual may also experience the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The best way to avoid any of these symptoms, especially if you’re among those most at risk, is to get immunized today. Take charge of your health and stay flu-free this season!

 

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Feeling Better is Closer: UM Charles Regional Urgent Care is Now Open

We’ve just opened the doors our brand new urgent care facility, right here in La Plata!

Developed as an alternative to the emergency room for patients with non-life-threatening conditions, University of Maryland Charles Regional Urgent Care is less than a mile from the hospital and offers extended hours, seven days a week, to ensure that patients can receive care when they need it. No appointment is needed.

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Located at 500 Charles Street, our staff of health care professionals treat a variety of ailments, including:

  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Allergic reactions
  • Broken bones
  • Sprains and strains
  • Cuts requiring stitches
  • Mild fevers
  • Minor burns
  • Animal or insect bites

Patients with more serious or life threatening illnesses or injuries should call 911 or go to the emergency room at the hospital.

Want to learn more about the brand new UM Charles Regional Urgent Care? Visit our new website or call 301.609.4699.

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