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Use your head - tips for preventing brain injuries

Mar 19

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3/19/2014 7:05 PM  RssIcon

The following article was written by Ann Busche, Director, St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services. It was originally published in the Duluth Budgeteer newspaper on March 15, 2014.

March is here and with it all that March brings –temperatures above freezing (finally!), the hope of spring and the State high school hockey and basketball tournaments. I recently watched my niece play a very physical game of high school basketball, and noticed one girl wearing a different headband than the other girls. When I asked my sister what’s up with that, she said that headband was a “concussion headband” and she was wearing it because of the risks of concussion. In fact, two of my nieces have had concussions from sports related injuries. 

While playing high school sports has many positives, it does place youth at risk for brain injury. Youth ages 15-19 are one of the age groups most likely to experience some type of brain injury. Brain injuries range from mild to severe, even fatal, and are caused by some type of bump, blow or jolt to the head that impacts the brain. They also can be caused by a fall or jolt to the body that results in the head and brain moving quickly back and forth. A concussion is one type of brain injury, usually considered mild, because it is generally not life threatening, but it can have very serious effects. 

Symptoms of concussion generally fall into four categories:
  • Thinking/remembering – difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating, remembering new information or generally feeling like thinking ability is slowed down
  • Physical – headache, fuzzy or blurry vision, nausea or vomiting (early on), sensitivity to noise or light, dizziness, problems with balance, feeling tired, having no energy
  • Emotional – irritability, sadness, more emotional, nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleep - sleeping more or less than usual, trouble falling asleep

Symptoms can be immediate or take some time to develop; they can last for days, weeks or longer. Those age groups most at risk for brain injury may also be slower to recover than others. While we’ve been focusing on teens, other age groups that experience a higher level of brain injury are children ages 0-4 (due to accidental falls and assaults) and adults over the age of 65 (due to accidental falls). It may also take longer to recover from a second concussion than the first.
 
Preventing a concussion or other brain injury from happening is always best and it just so happens that March is Brain Injury Awareness month. Regardless of our age or the physical activities we do, it’s important to protect our brain from injury. Wear a helmet if you are biking, skiing, horseback riding, inline skating, motorcycling, skateboarding, playing baseball or contact sports such as football or hockey. Always wear a seat belt and make sure children are in age, height and weight-appropriate car seats that are installed correctly. Because the very young and old are most at risk for brain injury due to falls, take action to prevent falls; for example, clear sidewalks of ice and snow or install baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
 
The Center for Disease Control has tons of information on traumatic brain injury available online. If you are a coach, there are online training courses available. There’s also information for school nurses and other school professionals. I hope everyone will take a few moments to check out the information and take steps to protect your brain, and the brains of those you love, from injury. 

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Re: Use your head - tips for preventing brain injuries

this article will be advantage for me to take care my child,

Thanks to Ann Busche,

By jannete on   4/6/2014 4:34 AM

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