You can help prevent traumatic brain injury
A KNOCK TO THE NOGGIN. A bump on the head. Call it what you want: Every 21 seconds someone in the U.S. experiences what is medically known as a traumatic brain injury, according to the United States Brain Injury Alliance.
These injuries can be relatively minor or devastatingly severe. And while their causes and outcomes vary, they often can be prevented.
“Headaches, balance issues, dizziness, vision changes, memory or thinking difficulties and increased irritability or other mood changes are all common after a concussion,” says Amy Murphy, DO, a brain injury medicine specialist with Providence Medical Group Brain Injury Services.
The brain is soft, which means it doesn’t take much to damage it. TBIs occur after a blow to the head or when something pierces the skull and enters the brain itself.
Males between the ages of 14 and 24 and people older than 75 are at the greatest risk for a TBI. Car crashes and accidents involving motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians are responsible for about half of all TBIs and are the main cause of injury in people younger than 75. In people 75 and older, falls are most often to blame.
About 20 percent of TBIs are due to violence, such as firearm assaults and child abuse. And about 3 percent are sports-related.
Use your head
You can head off a lot of TBIs with these four simple steps:
1. Make sure you buckle up every time you ride in a car or truck. When transporting children, use recommended child safety seats and booster seats.
2. Wear a helmet when biking, snowmachining and riding a motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle. You should also wear a helmet when playing contact sports – like football, hockey and boxing – as well as when you’re using inline skates or skateboards, running the bases in baseball or softball, riding a horse and skiing or snowboarding.
3. Use handrails and step stools with a grab bar to help prevent in-home falls. It’s also a good idea to remove potential tripping hazards, such as small area rugs and loose electrical cords, throughout your home and to install nonslip mats in your tub and grab bars in your shower.
4. If you have any firearms, keep them unloaded and safely locked away.
“There are treatments that can help with improving symptoms after a concussion,” Dr. Murphy adds. “Also, make sure to visit the Alaska Brain Injury Network site at www.alaskabraininjury.net for resources in our state.”