The death of beloved comedian Bob Saget in January of 2022 shocked and saddened the world. The loss was compounded in February when we learned that Bob passed away due to an untreated and undiagnosed head injury. The authorities concluded that Bob hit his head at some point, thought nothing of it and went to sleep, instead of seeking medical attention for his head injury. The grief and loss the Saget family is faced with is devastating and unimaginable. Sadly, it’s compounded by the knowledge that this is a scenario that will play out in houses all across America as the year unfolds. Brain injury (a bump, blow, or jolt to the head) is all too common. In fact, in the United States, a traumatic brain injury occurs every 15 seconds.
The compounding lack of investment in brain health education, brain injury prevention, and post-injury community supports will almost certainly guarantee that brain injury will continue to be the number one cause of death and disability in adults and children. For those who survive a brain injury, the costs of medical treatment and lost income quickly add up. Estimated in 2010, the lifetime economic cost of TBI, including direct and indirect medical costs, was estimated to be approximately $76.5 billion. Employees who are struggling with the sudden onset of caregiving duties after a loved one sustains a brain injury is also a concern to businesses large and small as top employees experience a loss in productivity or leave the workforce entirely to assist in recovery and care.
Bob’s family has asked that the love and laughter he brought to the world be his legacy. Given the astounding impact of brain injury, both personal and financial, I would ask that leaving us with a renewed urgency to understand and prevent brain injury also be part of Bob Saget’s incredible legacy.
Carrie Collins Fadell, MPA is CEO of the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona, a statewide nonprofit that supports survivors of all types of acquired brain injury, and chair-elect of the United States Brain Injury Alliance.
Did You Know: The blood vessels in the brain become less elastic or more rigid with age, meaning a bump or blow to the head that was seemingly inconsequential at a younger age can be deadly as a senior.