March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month

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Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. Currently, 5.3 million Americans are living with some form of traumatic brain injury-related disability. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain and is a major cause of death and disability in the U.S.

Leading causes of TBIs are falls, blunt force trauma to the head and motor vehicle collisions. Young children, teenagers and seniors are at the highest risk for TBIs. Although falls are the leading cause of TBIs, out of the number of TBIs that occur each year, approximately 75% are concussions or other mild forms of TBI due to sports and recreation-related injuries.

Signs of TBI are:

  • Numbness
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Severe headache
  • Weakness in your arms and legs
  • Dizziness or loss of vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness or confusion
  • Vomiting or nausea

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.

TBIs can cause a wide range of functional changes that affect:

  • Thinking (memory and reasoning)
  • Sensation (touch, taste, and smell)
  • Language communication, expression, and understanding)
  • Emotion (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness)

TBIs can cause epilepsy, increasing one’s chances of acquiring conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease — conditions often associated with aging.

To keep your family safe from brain injuries:

  • ALWAYS wear a seat belt when you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
  • ALWAYS buckle your child in a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt in the car.
  • NEVER drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Love your Brain – Wear a Helmet! ALWAYS wear a helmet when playing sports or enjoying outdoor activities:
    • Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle.
    • Playing contact sports.
    • Using inline skates or riding a skateboard.
    • Batting and running bases in baseball or softball.
    • Riding a horse, skiing or snowboarding.
  • Check the surface of your child’s playground to make sure it is made of shock-absorbing material such as hardwood, mulch, and sand.
  • Keep firearms unloaded and stored in a locked cabinet or safe (store bullets in a separate location).

To avoid falls in the home:

  • Use a step stool with a grab bar to reach objects on high shelves.
  • Install handrails on stairways.
  • Install window guards on open windows to keep young children from falling out.
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are present.
  • Remove small area rugs and loose electrical cords; they are tripping hazards.  Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Place grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower.
  • Maintain a regular exercise program to improve your strength, balance and coordination.
  • Visit an eye doctor regularly to have your vision checked.

Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee would like to remind residents that as first responders, we frequently care for individuals with head injuries. Although accidents are unpredictable, TBIs are often preventable by taking simple precautions. For more information on TBIs, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Traumatic Brain Injury and Brain Injury Association of America


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