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May Institute Expert Offers Tips for Awareness and Prevention of Brain Injury

03/16/07

Brockton, Mass. — The leading cause of disability and death among America’s youth, traumatic brain injury affects more than one million children per year. According to the National Pediatric Trauma Registry, approximately one-third of all pediatric injury cases are related to brain injury.

“Unfortunately, many children and adolescents incur brain injuries that are highly preventable with the use of equipment protection and proper safety measures,” says Gary Pace, Ph.D., clinical director for the May Institute’s pediatric brain injury center. “Minimizing risk through prevention is the only cure for brain injury; however, through immediate diagnosis and prompt treatment of a brain injury we’ve seen children make incredible strides in regaining skills following a trauma.”

Traumatic brain injury, an insult to the brain caused by an external force, is most frequently the result of motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, falls, sporting accidents, or violence. Children and adolescents with brain injury often experience memory loss, organizational difficulties, behavioral disinhibition, physical impairment, speech and other communication problems. The May Institute urges families to take measures for safety, including wearing helmets, using seatbelts, and caution during water and sporting activities.

The following are safety tips for prevention of traumatic brain injury:

Helmets

  • Helmets should be worn while riding bicycles, tricycles, and scooters.
  • Small children riding as passengers in trailers or bicycle seats should wear helmets.
  • Rollerbladers and skateboarders need helmet protection.
  • Helmets help prevent head injuries during football, baseball, soccer and other impact sports.
  • Bicycle riders should use trails and other designated areas for biking, and avoid busy streets.
  • Helmets should be properly fitted and approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Water Safety

  • Obey swimming and diving signs; they are there for a reason.
  • Swim and dive with a “buddy.”
  • Consumer safety councils warn not to dive in less than six feet of water; know the depth of the water before you dive.
  • Don't dive into unfamiliar bodies of water. Remember, three out of four diving accidents happen in natural bodies of water such as lakes and rivers.
  • Never swim or dive while drinking; your judgement and coordination may be impaired.
  • Small children playing in or near a pool, lake, tub, or other water source should be closely supervised and wear life jackets when appropriate.

Automobile Safety

  • The proper use of seatbelts and car seats provide prevention of many injuries due to automobile accidents. Because improper car seat installation accounts for many injuries to infants and toddlers, city and town police departments offer free check-points to ensure correct installation.
  • Children under twelve years of age should ride in the back seat of an automobile.
  • Riding in the back of pickup trucks is extremely dangerous and poses a serious risk for accidents involving head injuries.
  • Children hit by cars while playing or riding bicycles account for many accidents and subsequent brain injuries.  Street safety should be taught at a young age.
  • Stay focused; avoid distractions such as cell phones, CD and tape players, and rowdy passengers.

The May Center for Education and Neurorehabilitation in Brockton, Massachusetts is one of the few schools in the country to exclusively serve students with brain injury. Based on a strong belief that progress is possible for every student, the May Center has helped hundreds of children and adolescents with brain injury return to their families, public schools, and communities. Featured in the book, “In Search of America’s Best Nonprofits” (Jossey-Bass, 1997), May Institute is an award-winning national network that serves over 25,000 individuals and their families at nearly 200 service locations in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, and on the West Coast.

For more information, contact May Institute at 800-778-7601 or info@mayinstitute.org.

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