Apr 17, 2012

Traumatic Brain Injury - Part V - Prevention

Every 16 seconds in the U.S., a person suffers a TBI. This entry is related to how to PREVENT being a statistic. For a traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is no cure, only prevention. What can a person "do" to prevent this? Most things are common sense, but my suggestions focus on falls because they are the biggest cause (see TBI Part II Causes). These suggestions have been collected from various websites and from my own personal experience. Links to all of the other websites appear on the TBI entries I've made (click on the Misc/Brain Dump page above for related posts or the related links at the end of this post).

Falls can occur in nearly ANY part of daily life, and we rarely pay attention to each and every move we make. Here are some common sense things that can help you prevent a fall and possible TBI:
  • Use handrails on stairways and look at the steps when walking 
    • Stop reading the mail or magazine 
    • Look for items that have been left there
  • Provide lighting on stairs for people with poor vision or who have difficulty walking
    • A nightlight at the top or bottom is a good idea at night
  • Sit on safe stools and chairs. 
    • Wobbly chairs collapse, stools tip, throwing you to the floor
  • Do not place obstacles in walking pathways (such as stairs, hallways and traffic patterns)
  • If a cabinet door is open on a cabinet in the kitchen and you drop something on the floor, be careful standing back up or your head may impact against the bottom of the open door
  • Use a mat/rug on bathroom and kitchen floors (near the tub/shower and sinks)
    • Those 2 floors are notorious for getting wet. You do NOT want to slip on one (that is what happened to me). 
    • Trying to get back on your feet isn't easy and you can repeatedly fall, making the injury even worse.
The second largest part of our lives that cause falls, are sports and physical activities. Here are some suggestions focused on them. Most sports (football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, etc.) have specific requirements for the gear that must be worn to protect the various parts of the body. I am focusing on the points below because they are about helmets, which help prevent TBIs. I'm not here to explain the pros or cons about helmets, simply provide you with some suggestions and information.
  • Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle, motorcycle, scooter, snowmobile, jet-ski
  • State Helmet Laws
    Some Local Helmet Laws
    White states have no known helmet laws

    • Some states have laws about helmets for under 18 age people riding bicycles and this site [link] shows info and has a lot of good links about other issues surrounding helmets. The image to the right is an overview of the states that have known/reported laws.
  • Wear a helmet while skiing, snowboarding, skating and skateboarding
  • Wear a helmet when participating in contact sports
    • Not just in "official" ones, but even during the weekend pick-up games
I mention contact sports in the last bullet because I am a ref for a roller derby league and have been at countless bouts where a skater (or even ref) has been knocked down and hit their head on the floor. Helmets are required to be a competing skater or ref (yes, they sometimes get taken out). Basically what a helmet does in any of the activities mentioned above is PREVENTS a fall from being a severe TBI and reduces it to a mTBI, more commonly known as a concussion.

Overall, use common sense in your daily life and when taking part in any physical activity... your head will thank you.

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