On Thursday October 3, 2013, everyone in the United States may have been exposed to just how silent and serious the issue of brain injury is in our nation. In this lesson there were no connections to a person living with post concussive issues from playing in the NFL or details of a veteran experiencing combat blast related problems. No, this time the nation watched in real-time as a mother with her infant daughter in tow, showed us the complexity of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the streets of Washington, DC. The lesson was presented by Miriam Carey, a distraught single mother of one who drove her car onto the guarded property of our capitol. Unfortunately in this lesson, the teacher ended up tragically losing her life leaving her family and a nation of people with questions of why?
The initial reports speculated that the nature of her outburst may have been related to postpartum depression from what some news sources reported was an unplanned pregnancy. Five days after the incident an op-ed article written by Patrick B. Donohue, Founder of The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation titled “Lessons from the DC lockdown — brain injury is a public health crisis!” was picked up by one of the national news agencies. Mr. Donohue is highly respected for his work advocating for Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI). The article pointed out how the initial signs of Ms. Carey’s behavioral changes began after a fall down a flight of stairs during her pregnancy.
Like most acquired brain injuries the answers go beyond the presenting problems or behaviors. In this case the nation was able to observe what seemed to be a physically normal woman execute a bizarre and dangerous act. Due to the TBI awareness efforts of the NFL and the Veterans Administration, had Ms. Carey been a former professional football player or combat trauma veteran her family might have had exposure to education about brain injury and resources. The reality is that if Ms. Carey would have been successfully apprehended, the result would have been a lengthy court trial possibly leading to institutionalization or incarceration, silencing her situation even further.
On March 27, 2013, Mr. Donohue wrote another wonderful article titled “Does America need its Own Schindler’s List?” The premise of this article is to recognize the efforts of people who “Give a Voice to the Voiceless”. Mr. Donahue, I would like to nominate Miriam Carey for that honor. There is a saying among us veterans that can apply to civilians battling the unvoiced wounds of TBI. “All gave some. Some gave all.” The war within is a tough battle. It’s time for the “Silent Epidemic” of traumatic brain injury to be heard.