by Drew Nagele, MJ Schmidt, and Monica Vaccaro
From PHN Issue 21, Summer 2014
Each year, there are 2.5 million new traumatic brain injuries in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that 13.5 million people—or 4.5% of the population—are living with some type of acquired brain injury.
The number of people who are living with a brain injury in prisons is far greater than we would expect, and most of these injuries were never diagnosed or treated. Recent research suggests that about 60% of people in prison have had an acquired brain injury sometime in their life, most often prior to becoming incarcerated. This is important, because the problems that result from a brain injury make almost all aspects of life harder. Brain injury can make a person more likely to make poor decisions, increasing their risk for getting in trouble with the law and decreasing their likelihood of being successful in everyday life. The effects of brain injuries also can make it harder for a person to succeed in prison education programs or to meet parole conditions.