TPN Fact Brochure Text:: Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
(Copyright held since 1991 by TPN, Inc.)
Prevention IS Worth a Pound of Cure
But Sometimes It Happens Anyway!
Everyone has heard these sayings all of their lives - An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Better safe than sorry. Look before you leap. It's an accident waiting to happen. These sayings deserve an extra measure of attention when discussing brain injury - most brain injuries are caused by accidents, many of which could have been prevented. The Perspectives Network offers some tips on preventing the accidents that so often result in disabling brain injury.
VEHICLE ACCIDENTS: The most common cause of brain injury is motor vehicle accidents (nearly 50%).
- Do not drink and drive. Refuse to let friends drive when intoxicated and don't consent to being a passenger in a vehicle if you suspect the driver has been drinking. Select a designated driver if you are with a group that will be drinking.
- Wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers are wearing theirs.
- Always come to a full stop at a traffic light or stop sign and practice defensive driving techniques. Enter the intersection only after observing that the approaching vehicles have stopped.
- Be certain that infants and small children are properly confined to an approved car seat.
- If riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, wear a helmet at all times.
ACCIDENTS IN THE HOME: Falls often result in brain trauma and again, many of these accidents are preventable.
- Scatter rugs should have an appropriate backing which prevents slippage.
- Make sure that carpet on stairways is not loose and that handrails are secure.
- If water, snow or ice make surfaces slick, use caution.
- Night lighting along stairways and in bathrooms can ensure safety.
- Bathtubs are truly an accident waiting to happen. Care should be exercised in and around the tub and shower. Rubber matting can prevent slips and hand rails can prevent falls when getting in and out. When selecting tile for a bathroom pay attention to whether the surface will be inordinately slippery when wet.
- Be vigilant about watching small children - they have a tendency to climb and a fall can be the result.
- Make sure children are secure in high chairs, strollers, grocery carts, etc. - in the blink of an eye they can free themselves and fall.
- Observe all safety precautions when using a ladder and be especially careful when climbing on a roof.
PHYSICAL ASSAULT AND VIOLENCE: The third most common cause of brain injury is assault. A blow to the head, a gunshot wound or even shaking a person can cause serious and permanent injury.
- If you have guns in your home, take the necessary precautions to make absolutely certain that youngsters are unable to acquire access to the weapons. Accidental shootings are all too common and often tragically result in death or permanent injury.
- It is extremely important to learn proper methods of disciplining children. Shaking a child can result in brain injury. Any hit or slap to the head can cause the brain to whip back and forth in a quick motion, resulting in damage similar to that caused by whiplash. If you lack the appropriate parenting skills, seek help.
- Abuse is at record levels in every part of our society. Physical abuse can cause brain injury. If you are in an abusive relationship, seek help.
- Fighting and violent behavior do not resolve problems. Avoid situations that are likely to lead to violence.
- Be aware of your personal safety at all times and avoid obvious situations that may make you a victim of crime.
RECREATION: Even favorite activities can be the source of a serious injury. More than 10% of all brain injuries occur while participating in recreational activities.
- Sporting goods companies are continually producing innovative products that make recreation a little safer. When purchasing equipment, always consider the safety aspects of the product.
- If children are participating in organized sports, make the equipment used a special concern and if the equipment used falls short of the recommended safety standards, either purchase your own or vocalize your objections to the league officials.
- Bicycling has become an extremely popular pastime. Make sure that children wear helmets when they ride or when they are a passenger on your bicycle. The easiest way to get children to wear bike helmets? Wear one yourself. Looking a little funny is a small price to pay to prevent serious injury.
- When diving it is important to be fully aware of the depth of the water and the type of surface that is under the water. Diving in shallow water or diving into a rocky bottom is extremely dangerous.
- Unfortunately, alcohol plays a role in many recreational accidents. Drinking and driving a boat doesn't make any more sense than driving while intoxicated.
- In any sport that involves a ball, puck or stick flying through the air, brain injury is a risk. Golfers, too, can find themselves in the path of an errant shot. Awareness is a key factor in prevention.
THE WORK PLACE is also a common site for a brain injury to occur.
- Make safety a primary consideration in the work place. When possible, take a short break when you are getting tired. Fatigue, combined with machinery, can result in an accident.
Regardless of how careful you are, accidents do happen. Any head injury which is severe enough to cause bleeding or a bruise could also fracture the skull or cause concussion. Brain damage can occur without any obvious sign. In elderly people, particularly, any slight knock to the head may cause internal bleeding. Anyone who has suffered a possible brain injury should be taken to a doctor or to the emergency department of a hospital for examination - even if, superficially, the injury does not appear to be serious.
Every fifteen seconds someone in the United States experiences a brain injury. Two-thirds of these people are under the age of thirty-four. One hundred thousand people each year are permanently affected by brain injury. Statistics tell us that motor vehicles (including motorcycles) account for 48% of all brain injuries; falls 21%; assault 12%; sports/recreation 10%; and other blunt machinery 10%.** These are the statistics - but what does it all really mean?
Unfortunately, all too often it means that a young, vital person will lose the ability to do the work he or she was trained for and, therefore, lost a primary source of income. It can also mean that friends and family members pull away leaving the brain injury survivor without much needed support systems. A combination of financial difficulties, physical limitations and lack of support can keep a survivor from achieving an optimal recovery.
There is increasing evidence that individuals who have even a mild brain injury may continue to experience a wide variety of symptoms that can have life-changing implications. Many people with mild brain injury are dismissed as well and only realize the implications of their injury after they have lost their jobs or their personal relationship have suffered.
Loss of consciousness, even if it is only momentary, is a medical emergency. Remember that brain damage can occur without any obvious signs. Anyone who has suffered a possible brain injury should be taken to a doctor or to the emergency department of a hospital for examination - even if, superficially, the injury does not appear to be serious. If an injury is dismissed as insignificant but symptoms develop or persist, seek out a physician that will be sensitive to your problems and who will follow up on your treatment.
**There are many other ways in which someone can acquire a brain injury .. not just blows to the head can injure an otherwise healthy brain.
- Difficulty in processing information - decreased speed, accuracy and consistency
- Shortened attention span
- Inability to understand abstract concepts
- Impaired decision-making ability
- Inability to shift mental tasks or to follow multi-step directions
- Memory loss or impairment
- Language deficits - difficulty expressing thoughts and understanding others, inappropriate word selection
- Change in vision, hearing or sense of touch
- Loss of sense of time and space and spatial disorientation
- Disorders of smell and taste
- Altered sense of balance
- Increased pain sensitivity
- Persistent headache
- Extreme mental and/or physical fatigue
- Disorders of movement - gaiting, ataxia, spasticity and tremors
- Seizure activity (traumatic epilepsy)
- Impaired small motor control
- Photosensitivity (sensitivity to light)
- Sleep disorders
- Speech that is not clear due to poor control of the muscles in the lips, tongue and jaw and/or poor breathing patterns.
Behavioral and Emotional Symptoms
- Irritability and Impatience
- Reduced tolerance for stress
- Lack of initiative - apathy
- Dependence - failure to assume responsibility for one's actions
- Denial of disability
- Lack of inhibition - may result in aggression, cursing and inappropriate sexual behavior
- Flattened or Heightened emotional responses/reactions
*** TPN, Inc. is agreeable to individuals and organizations using this brochure text ONLY if they have contacted TPN, Inc. first to clarify usage and copyright permissions.
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