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Brain Injury Awareness Week 11 - 17 June


Brain Injury Awareness Week 11 - 17 June


90 People Sustain A Brain Injury Every Day - All Black Urges Them To Seek Medical Help

An astonishing 90 people acquire a brain injury in New Zealand every day. Yet its true prevalence is widely under-estimated.

On average 70* acquire these injuries from the impact of road accidents, assaults, sports, playground and work incidents and at least a further 20 from strokes, tumours and other conditions, giving an annual total of over 32,000.

Rugged former All Black prop Kevin Boroevich is the "face" of Brain Injury Awareness Week 2006 which runs from 11 - 17 June. He urges those who, like himself, "suffer knocks to the head and feel things aren't right" to seek immediate medical help.

"You have to be tough to be an all Black," Boroevich says, "but, because brain injury is invisible and under-recognised, it can be even tougher to be honest with yourself about your condition, to speak up and get help."

He tells for the first time how his life virtually crashed and burned as the result of brain injury.
He was knocked out seven or eight times in his rugby career and, in line with the culture of the day, thought little of it.

On top of that, in 2001 he took a fearsome battering in a charity boxing match from Australian league legend and experienced boxer, Mal Meninga.

So began a horrific period of constant headaches, slurred speech, insomnia, inability to concentrate, mood swings and depression. Employment, social and family relationships all deteriorated drastically.

Brain Injury Awareness Week …. 2

Finally, realising that denial and toughing it out himself weren't solving anything, he sought help and received the scary information that his brain was "closing down" as a result of his injuries.

Recovery came gradually with much ACC supported therapy, rest, positive thinking and learning about his condition. Today he has taken control of his own life, runs his own home investment business, avoids contact sport and works within the limits of his condition. He estimates he is now somewhere around "90 per cent".

Harley Pope, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of New Zealand (BIANZ) is concerned not only for those with the injury themselves but also for their families whose lives also are inevitably disrupted. "We offer advocacy, information, support and education to both groups."

This year's Awareness Week aims to alert the community to the large numbers affected by brain injury, build understanding of how to deal with it and to encourage prevention.

Year-round, the regional brain injury associations provide an invaluable liaison service for people with brain injury and their families, helping them find appropriate professional help and providing advocacy, information and support. Most associations run a range of support groups.

To help sustain this work, there will be street collections between 11 and 17 June in most major centres.

* ACC figure


Ends

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