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March: Brain Injury Awareness Month

At least 5.3 million Americans currently live with disabilities related to traumatic brain injury (TBI), and approximately 1.4 million people in the United States sustain a TBI each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, the CDC has distributed a list of facts and tips to help raise awareness and improve prevention measures.

Facts

  • A TBI is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.
  • Each year in the United States, an estimated 1.4 million people sustain a TBI. Of those individuals, approximately:

    „o„50,000 die;„

    „o„235,000 are hospitalized; and„

    „o„1.1 million are treated and released from emergency departments.„

  • Falls are the leading cause of TBI, followed by motor vehicle-traffic crashes.„
  • The two age groups at highest risk for TBI are 0 to 4 year olds and 15 to 19 year olds.„
  • TBI rates are higher for males in almost every age group.
  • TBI-related hospitalizations are most often due to motor vehicle-traffic crashes.
  • An estimated 300,000 sports- and recreation-related brain injuries of mild to moderate severity occur in the United States each year.
  • At least 5.3 million Americans - 2% of the U.S. population - currently live with disabilities resulting from TBI.
  • Direct and indirect costs of TBI totaled an estimated $56.3 billion in the U.S. in 1995.„

Prevention Tips

  • Wear a seatbelt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.„
  • Always buckle your child into a child safety seat, booster seat or seatbelt (according to the child's height, weight and age) in the car. Children should start using a booster seat when they grow out of their child safety seats (usually when they weigh about 40 lbs.). They should continue to ride in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly, typically when they are 4'9" tall.„
  • Ensure all children ages 12 years or younger ride in the back seat, the safest part of a vehicle in the event of a crash.„
  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.„

  • Wear a helmet and ensure that your children wear helmets while:„

    „o„riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter or all-terrain vehicle;„

    „o„playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey or boxing;„

    „o„using in-line skates or riding a skateboard;„

    „o„batting and running bases in baseball or softball;„

    „o„riding a horse; or„

    „o„skiing or snowboarding.„

  • Make living areas safer for seniors by:„

    „o„removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs and clutter in walkways;„

    „o„using non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors;„

    „o„having grab bars put in next to the toilet and in the tub or shower;„

    „o„having handrails put in on both sides of stairways; and„

    „o„improving lighting throughout the home.

  • For seniors, reduce your risk by having a health-care provider review your medications, have your vision checked and maintain a regular physical activity program to improve lower body strength and balance.

  • Make living areas safer for children by:„

    „o„installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows; and

    „o„using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around.

  • Ensure the surface of your child's playground is made of shock-absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand.„

JEMS has recognized the significance of these injuries for prehospital care providers, and has covered the topic in many research reviews and a recent feature article, "Combat Hypoxia: The Importance of Airway Management & Oxygenation of the Traumatic Brain Injury Patient," March 2003.

Other resources

Brain Injury Awareness Month materials„

(from the Brain Injury Association of America's Web site)

http://www.biausa.org/Pages/biam2006.htm

MMWR article "Incidence Rates of Hospitalization Related to Traumatic Brain Injury-12 States, 2002"

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5508a2.htm

More CDC information on injury prevention

www.cdc.gov/injury



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