Brain Health Matters - International Brain Awareness Week

Brain Health Matters - International Brain Awareness Week

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Highlights:
  • Brain awareness week (BAW) is observed worldwide as a weekly event annually in March and aims to educate the public about the importance of brain health and major advances in the field of brain research
  • BAW 2018 is being celebrated between March 12th and 18th and has more than 5600 participating organizations across 120 countries

History of Brain Awareness Week

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) was pioneered by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) currently coordinated by the DABI and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB).
Brain Health Matters - International Brain Awareness Week

The first BAW was organized by the DABI in 1996 bringing together diverse groups from the academia, government, professional and NGOs with the common theme that brain research will be an important tool to find treatments, possible cures and ways to prevent brain diseases.

The first edition of BAW in 1996 saw 160 organizations taking part within the US and introduced internationally in 1998. By 2000 over 41 countries joined the campaign and in almost two decades since it has become a truly global movement with 5600 partner organizations in 120 countries.

Who can Take Part and What are the Objectives of BAW?

Anyone with a passion and belief in spreading the message about brain research and its importance and the need to keep it going can participate. The events and activities are only limited by the imaginations of the organizers and the DABI is happy to offer support material and resources to help the participants in their event.

Interestingly, partner organizations of the BAW include diverse groups such as schools, colleges, hospitals, research facilities, libraries, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and corporations.

Some of the common objectives of these organizations are
  • Create and spread awareness about brain research and its importance in helping people lead healthier, more productive lives
  • Raise funds for brain research
  • Educate the public with necessary information to make informed decisions about their health.
  • Ensure a future for neuroscientific discovery and research by kindling the imagination of the young

What Partner Organizations/Individuals can do to Make the BAW Event a Success

As stated above, campaign material and resources are available on the BAW website and can be downloaded and used to spread the message about the importance of brain health and research to as many people as possible. This can be done in one or more of the following ways:
  • Promote BAW via social media such as Facebook and Twitter and share educational messages and interesting information on blogs, website or a newsletter
  • Distribute free BAW campaign material such as information leaflets, fun activities to do and puzzles at organized events in the community
  • Have an event such as a sale, walk-a-thon, or short skit at a local hospital, park, library, or shopping mall. Proceeds from sales may be donated to organizations supporting brain research
  • Schools can organize lectures and seminars about brain health and research by prominent health professionals, a visit to a science museum or screen films on brain and related themes (eg My Left Foot)
  • Organize a brain essay writing, drawing and painting or drama competition for local school children
  • During this week, children can participate in quiz contests, game shows and other fun activities where knowledge about brain is introduced in a fun way
  • Involve the local administration to support a BAW event in the community
  • Using visual media, print media and radio programmes to raise awareness about brain health and research in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, dementia, stroke, Parkinson's disease, and brain injury
  • Corporate organizations can use their financial power and connections to create awareness and to raise funds for brain research
  • Health clinics and hospitals can offer free health screenings and check-ups and distribute pamphlets with catchy messages about importance of brain health

Interesting Brain Trivia

  • We cannot tickle ourselves because our brain is able to predict the tickle.
  • When we touch or feel something, our body sends the message to the brain that travels at a speed of nearly 200 km/hour.
  • Impulses travel between parts of our brain at around 400 km/hour.
  • The human brain is made up of about 80% water.
  • About 750 ml to 1 liter of blood flows through the brain per minute.
  • The human brain weighs about 1.5 kg; this is only 2% of our body's mass, but the brain utilizes 20% of the oxygen we inspire each minute
  • Although the brain interprets pain signals; the brain itself has no pain receptors, and cannot feel pain.
  • More than 100,000 chemical reactions take place in the brain every second
  • About 70,000 thoughts occur per day in our brains

Tips to Improve Brain Health

  • Exercise regularly and stay physically fit
  • Challenge your brain by trying out new things, like learning new skills to stimulate development of brain pathways
  • Have stress release mechanisms in place
  • Have fun, relax, laugh and do things you enjoy
  • Make time for friends
  • Have at least 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables; avoid refined foods
  • Treat underlying medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease, hormonal imbalances promptly
References :
  1. Celebrate brain awareness week! - (http://www.dana.org/uploadedFiles/BAW/BAW_Brochure_2018_Panels.pdf)
  2. Brain Awareness Week 2015: How Brain Research Has Progressed, And Ways You Can Enhance Cognition - (http://www.medicaldaily.com/brain-awareness-week-2015-how-brain-research-has-progressed-and-ways-you-can-enhance-325732)
  3. Brain Awareness Week: 9 Mind-Boggling Brain Facts - (http://www.arta.net/brain-awareness-week-9-mind-boggling-brain-facts/)
  4. Brain Awareness Week - (http://dana.org/uploadedFiles/BAW/Landing_Pages/BAW_Facts_Figures_2017.pdf)
Source: Medindia

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