New campaign Blackout for Brain Injury is set to mark this year's national awareness week and raise the profile of the often-invisible injury.

Brain Injury New Zealand president and Hawke's Bay Brain Injury Association chairman Brett Morris said the national campaign was purposed to better inform the community about brain injuries and the challenges that come with them.

"The problem with brain injuries is that they're invisible most of the time so you don't know someone has a brain injury and you may well put down their behaviour to a bad or crazy person.

"You see someone acting strangely and you automatically assume that's just the way they are rather than a brain injury being the cause."


Every 15 minutes a New Zealander sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and they often went unrecognised for a period of time as almost a third of people didn't seek medical immediate medical attention, he said.

"I'm fairly certain that virtually everyone has either suffered a TBI or knows someone that has but they don't talk about it.

"There's a stigma attached to it which is why you'll find a lot of rugby players who did retire due to brain injuries have not admitted to the fact or don't want to talk about it."

Mr Morris said in recent talks during a community initiative, "Concussion - a changing culture", the regional organisation struggled to find sports players who would openly talk about how they had been personally affected by brain injuries.

"We did find a local boy who was prepared to do that and it's actually been great to see the transformation that's taken place in him when he first talked about the problem. With some help he's actually made an amazing improvement."

While public perception was that concussions in sport was the leading cause of brain injuries, the majority were actually caused by falls at home, school playgrounds and workplaces, Mr Morris said.

National Awareness Week begins on March 19 and schools, shops and workplaces were encouraged to incorporate black-themed dress-ups and events to raise funds for the local associations.

Mr Morris said TBI could be life-changing for not only individuals but their families, who take on responsibility for ongoing care and both physical and emotional stress.