Brain Awareness Week: What is it?
Brain Awareness Week occurs annually in mid-March to promote the progress and benefits of brain research to the world! This awareness week was founded in 1996 by The Dana Foundation. The Dana Foundation was founded in 1950 by Charles A. Dana, with a goal of developing a better understanding of the brain and its functions, speed the discovery of treatments for brain disorders and combat the stigma of brain disorders through education to the public! We use this week to promote these goals and remind everyone to take care of their brains!
It’s a No-Brainer!
We know our brains are the powerhouse of our being. Our brains hold our personality, education, memories, motor abilities, thoughts, and are constantly in-taking and out-putting information for us to function in our every day lives. So what happens when something is disrupted in our brain and causes our functionality to decline? Our brain functionality can experience a decline temporarily, which can be caused due to:
- Too much or too little sleep
- Poor diet or exercise
- Increased stress levels
- A lack of brain stimulation
Fortunately, the brain is very malleable and can easily come back from these temporary causes of functionality decrease. On the other hand, the brain can experience permanent change to functionality. If you have noticed a cognitive decline in your functional abilities over an extended period of time, it might not be a temporary disruption as listed above. This can occur due to:
- A neurological disorder
- An acquired brain injury
- Developmental delay beginning at birth.
Every individual’s brain is unique, so it’s important to continue developing research to further understand the different disorders, traumas, and illnesses that can affect a person’s brain, in turn allowing us to develop strategies to counteract, delay and prevent these disruptions in functionality.
Brain Function in the Workplace
We are always using our brains, even when we’re just sitting there breathing. One instance where we need to use more brain power is when we’re in our workplaces. This is because we’re working and completing tasks to the best of our ability. So what happens when an employee’s performance appears to be declining? Signs of a decline in brain function can include:
- Memory loss
- Impaired judgment, such as taking risks
- Poor motor coordination
- Confusion – this can be in regards to oneself, other people, location, etc.
- Emotional symptoms, such as irritability, outbursts, anger, sadness
A lot of these signs could just be a result of a temporary issue, as listed earlier in the article. However, if these signs and symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks, there may be a deeper issue. It’s important for employers to know their employees and their work ethic well enough to notice when something has changed.
What Employers Can Do
If you believe an employee may be struggling with their brain health, there are several different options for addressing the situation.
- Have an open and honest discussion with your employee – they may be open to disclosing to you what has caused a decrease in the performance
- Determine what the job requires by having a Cognitive Demands Analysis completed for your job roles.
- Hire an Occupational Therapist to complete a functional cognitive assessment to thoroughly assess the employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations on how to improve their job performance
- If your employee has a diagnosed neurological disorder that has caused a decline in their performance, an Occupational Therapist can complete an accommodation assessment to determine the needs of the employee to successfully complete the job. Read more on accommodation laws here.
- Encourage employees to engage in activities that increase cognitive function! Check out the link below for more!
For more information on cognition in the workplace, click here!
Gowan Consulting can assist with all workplace concerns, finding a solution that works best for the employer, employee and workplace! Register for our Cognitive Demands Analysis Workshop, occurring April 9th and 10th, to learn how to determine cognitive needs of a job and which employees are best suited to each position. Click here to register!
If you’d like to hear more about how we can better your workplace, contact us!
Dana Foundation. (2019). Brain Awareness Week. Retrieved from: https://www.dana.org/baw/about/
Images retrieved from google.ca/images/brainawareness