To Your Health: March is Brain Injury Awareness month – be safe out there
Every year, more than 1.7 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI is one of the leading causes of death and disability, and Kentucky has twice the incidence of TBI than the national average.
Most often, TBI results from injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions and falls, although sports injuries, violence and work-related injuries also contribute to these statistics.
Here are some ways to minimize the chance of injury for yourself and your children:
Use appropriate safety gear, including helmets, pads and mouth gear. Hand-me-downs are tempting, but make sure your children’s gear is in good condition and sized correctly. Damaged or ill-fitting safety equipment will not protect anyone from injury.
Frequently inspect bicycles, scooters and skateboards to ensure that safety reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
Follow the rules of the road and help your children learn them.
Suit yourself and your children in reflective clothes and consider knee and elbow pads
For contact sports, make sure your child’s athletic program groups kids according to size and ability rather than merely dividing them by age. Kids develop at different rates, so children of the same age may vary greatly in size, posing a risk to smaller kids who are paired against larger ones.
Protect against falls by ensuring adequate lighting, removing loose throw rugs and locking basement doors.
Maintain a clutter-free environment.
Follow appropriate OSHA guidelines.
Use tools appropriate for the job.
Do not drive under the influence of drugs of alcohol.
Do not text while driving.
Never shake or strike an infant or small child.
Carefully monitor children on elevated surfaces (bed, couch, etc.).
Fasten tall and top-heavy furniture to the wall to keep it from toppling.
TBI is a spectrum of injury types and severity. Mild TBI or concussion is by far the most common. Headaches, dizziness, vision problems, fatigue and mild cognitive difficulties are frequent complaints after a concussion. Luckily for most people, these symptoms last only a few days or weeks.
More severe brain injury may result in coma and permanent neurologic deficits. It’s important to seek medical attention any time a blow to the head causes any of these conditions:
- Loss of consciousness (“passing out”) for more than 5 minutes
- Persistent confusion
- Difference in the size of the pupils
The Center for Advanced Neurosurgery includes experts in both Neurosurgery and Physical Medicine and Rehab. From treating trauma patients in the ER to conducting long-term research aimed at curing spinal cord injury, dedicated experts are focused on every aspect of caring for patients with spine and brain conditions. Find out more.
(Editor’s Note: Adapted from the March issue of University of Louisville Physicians Insider.)