Protecting Your Head from Injury

With March being designated as National Brain Injury month, we
need to be aware of the risks that lead to brain injuries and the preventative
measures we can take to avoid them.  While
falls account for most traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), blows to the head and motor
vehicle accidents are other major causes.

We have become more aware of the detrimental effects of
repeated blows to the head that happen in contact sports such as football and
boxing.  Repetitive head injuries have
been linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia diseases.  Time
magazine noted in its July 25, 2017 issue that 110 of 111 deceased NFL players
had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative brain
disorder associated with repetitive head trauma.  And although repeated head blows are
injurious, even one severe blow can cause death.  Famous citizens
Michael Kennedy, Sonny
Bono, and Natasha Richardson all died from head trauma due to their accidents
while skiing. 

Since most of us are not involved with contact sports such
as football, we may be lulled into thinking we’re safe.  However, motor vehicle accidents account for
20 percent of severe brain injuries. 
Please be safe and observe the following practices when you’re driving:  
  • Stay buckled up, even for short trips.
  • Make sure passengers have their seat belts on and very young
    children are strapped in their car seats properly.
  • Be sure the vehicle’s air bags are in working order.
  • Don’t text while driving (we’ve heard this before, but it
    bears repeating).
  • Don’t drive after drinking (another point worth repeating).
  • Resist road rage, no matter how annoying or insulting the
    other driver is (yes, this can be a tough one).
  • Postpone any heated conversations until you’re off the road.  
  • Don’t eat while driving.
  • Don’t let your favorite music distract you.
  • Use the mirror to check traffic instead of how you look.  Keep your eyes on the road.

If you love riding bicycles or motorcycles, be sure to wear
a helmet.  It may feel like the helmet
impedes the exhilarating feeling of wind in your hair, but a bad head injury
feels worse.  Also, be smart and wear a
helmet in contact sports such as football, boxing, rugby, and wrestling.      

So how do you know when a bump on the head is just a bump on
the head or something more serious?  Watch
for symptoms of a concussion, which include headaches, nausea, dizziness and
confusion.  If you experience any of
these symptoms, seek medical help immediately. 
More severe brain injuries result in long-term or life-long disability
and sometimes death.  For additional
information, visit the Mayo Clinic site at

Sufferers of serious brain injuries often have seizures and
are at greater risk of pneumonia and other infections.
  They may experience cognitive, communication,
behavioral, sensory or emotional impairments. This also puts them at risk for
accidents and other illnesses.

It’s not uncommon for people with TBI to accidentally overdose
on their medications, so they usually need extra care and observation. This additional
support can sometimes place greater financial and emotional burdens on family
and friends. Consequently, those with TBI are at a much higher risk for
victimization, abuse, and neglect. 

The Red Cross wants to remind everyone that those suffering
from TBI may require additional assistance to ensure their personal safety.
 If you are the caregiver:
  • Remove loose carpeting and any objects that might trip
  • Keep track of medications and their dosages.  Watch the injured person to see how they
    respond after new medications are given.
  • Be sure there is a preparedness kit available in the
  • Make sure a working smoke alarm is installed and practice an
    escape plan.
  • Take CPR and first aid training in case of emergencies.
  • Take care of yourself. 
    Take a break.  Arrange to have
    another competent person fill in for you. 

The Red Cross offers CPR and first aid training, as well as free
smoke alarms and installations.
 We also
offer customized models for people who are hard of hearing.
  To learn more, please visit our website at