Young men oblivious to brain injury risk

The Illawarra Brain Injury Service's tenpin bowling challenge. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

The Illawarra Brain Injury Service's tenpin bowling challenge. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Despite widespread media attention and public outcry about alcohol-fuelled assaults and deadly king hits in recent years, many young men still think they're invincible and can't get hurt in such violent attacks.

That is the message from Illawarra brain injury access program Headway, which is working with agencies around the country to draw attention to the devastating consequences of alcohol-fuelled violence.

Headway manager Robyn Russell said highly publicised assaults such as the death of teenager Thomas Kelly in Kings Cross last year, were "just the tip of the iceberg" when it came to attacks that caused brain injury.

"The incidence [of brain injuries caused by assaults] is greater in the male population, and in people under about 35," she said.

"These are the people who are fearless, 10-foot tall and bulletproof, and even though there's increased awareness there is still that element of them thinking 'it won't happen to me'."

Brain Injury Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, is focusing on assault-related brain injuries because of the ever-increasing number of incidents.

"Our message this week is that these assaults can be avoided - they are not necessary and the drinking culture that's out there at the moment is not necessary," Ms Russell said.

"We want people to realise that doing something on impulse can have lifelong effects, because the person they injure will never be the same as before."

She also said awareness of assault-related injuries was vital as they were potentially more debilitating than other brain injuries.

"The general statistic across the board is that 40 per cent of people with a brain injury will develop a mental illness, but if a person acquired their injury through assault those statistics are a lot higher."

On Tuesday, Headway joined the Illawarra Brain Injury Service to hold a tenpin bowling challenge for its clients to mark the week.

Ms Russell said the community day gave survivors of brain injury the chance to get together with people with similar life experiences.

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