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How to Stay Safe and Avoid Brain Injury

Head and brain injury can mean a long recovery, doctor’s bills, and a loss of self. The best strategy is always accident prevention. Here are some of the major causes of head and brain injuries and some key strategies to prevent them.

Major Causes of Brain Injuries

Motor Vehicle Accidents Head and brain injuries are most commonly caused during an auto accident. It is always important to use a seat belt and to keep your children properly restrained in a car seat. Even with a seat belt, there is always a risk of receiving an injury. It’s a good idea to always wear a seat belt while in a car or truck. Have your child’s car seat checked for correct installation by a Certified Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). Whiplash can cause the brain to move around in the skull and that is a possible source of injury.

Prescription Medication Brain injuries can also be caused by a defective drug or a prescription that has been filled incorrectly by the pharmacy. The wrong medication could cause internal bleeding within the skull or somehow deny the brain oxygen. This can also happen with a properly prescribed drug due to side effects that were not present in the drug. Talk to your pharmacist any time you are receiving a new medication to ensure you have been given the correct pills and dosage. When receiving refills make sure that the size, shape, and color of pills are the same.

Falls Slipping on something and then falling can also be a cause for a brain injury. Anytime you hit your head while falling is a cause for concern. Falls can happen in your own home or while out shopping. Loose rugs, steps, or sidewalks that are covered in snow and ice and uneven floors can be a hazard. Playgrounds are also a place where falls can happen. Sixty percent of all playground injuries are from falling from a piece of playground equipment. A playground should have 12 inches of a soft base under all of the equipment. Remember, adult supervision while children are playing at the playground can help reduce the number of injuries sustained by children.

A young child climbing a potentially dangerous wooden structure at a playground

Boating Accidents Boating accidents are also a big cause of head and brain injuries. Often people riding in a boat are unrestrained and a boat is full of hard surfaces. The driver on a boat should be experienced and educated in maritime law and safety.  Drinking and boating is never a good idea. Always have a designated driver on a boat as well as on land.

Motorcycle Accidents Not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is also a big cause of head and brain injuries. Some states mandate helmet use while driving or riding a motorcycle, but others do not. Statistics show that death and brain injuries happen more in states that do not have a mandatory helmet law.  Always wear a helmet while driving or riding a motorcycle to decrease your chances of suffering a head and brain injury.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Young infants between the ages of 3 and 8 months are most at risk of Shaken Baby Syndrome. A parent or caregiver who is overwhelmed may shake a baby violently in an attempt to get them to stop crying. This causes the brain to move around inside the skull causing damage to the brain. One-third of babies that are abused this way will die. One-third of babies suffer permanent damage from Shaken Baby Syndrome.  Only leave your child with a trusted caregiver. If you feel the need to shake your baby in an attempt to get them to stop crying, set the child down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes.

Violence Seventeen percent of all Traumatic Brain Injuries are caused by violent acts. Assaults with guns are especially damaging as they usually cause a penetrating injury to the brain. If you are a gun owner it is important to keep your firearms unloaded and locked up. Sixty percent of violence with a firearm is a suicide attempt. A brain injury caused by a firearm has the greatest risk of leading to death. An assault that involves hitting often focuses on the head and face. Random violence is not always the cause of brain injuries.  People also suffer brain injuries as a result of domestic abuse and elder abuse.

Exposure to Toxic and Hazardous Substances There are many places both in the home and out in the world where you could be exposed to toxic and hazardous substances. They can be silent and undetectable but can cause a brain injury just the same. Lead is a big contributor to brain injuries. If your home was built before 1978 then there is a good chance that lead-based paint was used on the walls. Peeling and chipped paint should be tested and removed by an experienced company. The workplace is also another source of exposure to toxic and hazardous substances. Make sure you find out and educate yourself on any chemicals that you may be working with and the correct way to handle them. Familiarize yourself with any Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that your employer provides.

BOTTOM LINE –Prevention is always the key to reducing injuries and keeping yourself and your family safe. Sometimes circumstances are out of your control and when accidents do happen it is in your best interest to educate yourself and bring in experts that can guide you.

Read the next article: What to Do When a Brain Injury Happens