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Why We Don’t Get Treatment for Head Injuries

Strong Doctor Looks for Reasons via Internet Survey

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

An estimated 375,000 Americans each year suffer a head injury but choose not to seek medical treatment. Is it because they perceive the injury is minor? They can’t afford it? Are they mostly young or old, men or women?

Jeffrey Bazarian, M.D., assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and an attending physician in Strong Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department, has been studying several aspects of head trauma and wants to know more about the barriers to medical care.

Bazarian designed a survey of 17 multiple-choice questions to determine where and how the injury happened, symptoms, and why the injured person did or did not seek treatment. The survey is posted on the Strong Health web site: Participants are not required to enter any identifying information, such as name, phone number or address. Once the survey is submitted, the participant will receive links to more than a dozen other web sites with information about head injuries.

View a panel discussion in which Dr. Bazarian discusses brain injuries in depth.

"I’m concerned that patients might be worse off for not getting treated," Bazarian says. "Many people don’t realize that when the brain is injured by a fall, accident or assault, symptoms such as memory loss can linger for as long as six months or a year. It’s important that doctors immediately assess the extent of the injury so that patients can fully recover."

Self-reporting injuries through the Internet is an unproven process, but it may be an easy and cost-effective way to receive answers to questions about unreported conditions, Bazarian says. Several other studies have shown that the Internet can be a valuable tool for sharing information on disease and infection outbreaks, for example.

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