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Video: Confronts Traumatic Brain Injury Crisis

WETA Launches National Multimedia Project Aimed at Preventing, Treating, and Living with 'Invisible' Injuries

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Every 21 seconds someone in America sustains a traumatic brain injury. That doesn't include the more than 19 percent of military personnel returning from combat duty in Iraq who may also have sustained mild to severe brain trauma.

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"The numbers are staggering," said Dr. Carl Valenziano, director of trauma at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified traumatic brain injury as rising to national crisis levels," Valenziano, a surgeon with over 20 years of experience said. "While the care of TBI in our military has received a lot of media attention, there is a need to increase discussion about how to prevent brain injuries, treat brain injuries or live with brain injuries among the general public -- whether you've sustained the injury yourself or are caring for a family member or friend."

WETA, the flagship public broadcasting station in the nation's capital, recognized this national need and partnered with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center to launch

The site features video webcasts, recent research, personal stories, and articles on living with, treating and preventing traumatic brain injuries. "We wanted to present valuable information in easy to understand language that anyone -- a service member, a mother, a teenager -- could use," said executive director Noel Gunther.

An estimated 1.4 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year from incidents involving motor vehicle crashes, bicyclist or pedestrian injuries, falls, sports-related accidents, and injuries due to physical abuse and violence. Among those most at risk for traumatic brain injury are children, late teens and older adults.

Lesley LeMasurier was 19 years old when she suffered a concussion that ended her chances for a spot on the U.S. Ski team -- it was her fifth traumatic brain injury. "I didn't know anything about the brain or brain injuries. I didn't know how serious a risk I was running. I was just a kid trying to chase a dream and didn't know I was hurting myself in the process."

"I feel like traumatic brain injuries are downplayed, especially among athletes," LeMasurier said. "If there is no break or no blood you just keep going."

Traumatic brain injuries are also taking a toll on military members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 28 percent of battle-injured soldiers admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Whether on the battlefront or at home, a brain injury can be life altering. Depression, memory loss, debilitating headaches and erratic behavior can often persist for months or years after an injury. But patients are often sent home from emergency rooms without referrals to services or follow-up care. That leaves families scrambling for information. explains what treatment people with brain injuries should receive and what kind of support they will need. offers those living with TBI a 24-hour network of support. is a national multimedia project produced by WETA and funded by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, the primary operational TBI component of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, through a subcontract award with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine.

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