ANNA - During the Feb. 25 city council meeting, Anna Mayor Nate Pike presented a plaque to Pate Rehabilitation proclaiming March Brain Injury Awareness Month.

The treatment facility, located on the city’s outskirts, is working to make life better for those suffering from brain injuries.

According to the most recent national statistics, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs every nine seconds. An estimated 795,000 Americans suffer strokes each year, and more than 3.8 million experience mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions.

What many people don’t realize is that treating brain injures requires more than just addressing physical trauma. It’s also addressing the mental anguish that a victim may be going through as well as the trauma their family and loved ones are dealing with as well.

“We’re essentially the last step for people before they get into the real world,” Pate Community Liaison Lindsay McGregor said about the facility. “Our goal is to help people achieve their highest level of functional independence after having suffered a brain injury”

According to McGregor, that means getting patients to a point where they are able to manage what they are doing at that time, and to do it successfully with confidence and empowerment.

When cognition has been disrupted, even the simplest tasks can become a challenge. It often requires professional help to regain related skills.

Some patients rehab at Pate Rehabilitation for a short stint and are sent on their way. Others have little independence, communicating with nothing more than a gaze of their eyes.

Brain Injury Awareness Month was created to raise awareness of all types of acquired brain trauma. The goal is to help those dealing with brain trauma, as well as to modify behaviors that can lead to it.

Preventative measures can include such things as not climbing a ladder without supervision to not drinking and driving.

With so many people suffering strokes, it’s important to understand what can be done to prevent them.

Some of the leading causes of strokes are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Smoking is also a huge risk factor.

Brain injury awareness also refers to how to treat people who suffer from brain injuries, as they may move a little slowly or speak differently.

According to McGregor, what patients can often use from others is extra patience. If someone needs a little time to get through a door, for example, giving them an extra second can go a long way.

Patients also need support from those closest to them.

“What we see in healthcare is that folks that do have that family support respond a little bit different than those who don’t have support or someone who can be by their side all the time,” McGregor said.

Brain injury treatments are expensive and matching the proper course of action with what medical insurance will cover is always challenging.

For example, the cognitive rehabilitation offered at Pate Rehabilitation usually is not covered under Medicare or Medicaid.

This is the second year the city of Anna has recognized Brain Injury Awareness Month. The idea for the proclamation came to Mayor Pike after he toured the local Pate facility.

McGregor hopes the designation will make people pause to consider what those with brain injuries go through and what can be done to help them.

“They’re people just like everybody else,” she said. “Maybe they can’t do all the things we can do or at the same speed, but it doesn’t mean that they are less of a person.”