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Tips to prevent traumatic brain injuries

Tips to prevent traumatic brain injuries

Wyoming is beautiful and rugged, and to enjoy the great outdoors, many people choose to accept a certain amount of risk with activities including horseback riding, rock climbing, four-wheelers, and mountain biking. Imagine horseback riding through the Big Horns when suddenly your horse is spooked. You get thrown from the horse and you hit your head on a rock. Brain injuries take a second to occur, but can result in a lifetime of change.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is defined as an alteration in brain function that occurs after birth. It can be caused by a sudden external force such as a gunshot wound or falling and striking your head. The severity of the TBI is determined at the time of the injury and may be classified as: mild, moderate or severe. Concussion is another word for a mild TBI.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of TBI in 2013 was falls. Being struck by an object was the second leading cause, followed by motor vehicle crashes.

Adolescents are more inclined to engage in the types of behavior that can result in TBIs such as riding ATVs or competitive horseback riding. According to the World Health Organization, adults over the age of 65 suffer the greatest number of fatal falls. Many sources claim men are greater risk takers than women, and often find themselves in the emergency department due to accidental injuries and car accidents.

The CDC describes TBIs as a serious public health problem that can result in death or lifelong disability. TBI may affect cognitive, emotional, and motor functioning, and limit an individual’s ability to participate in activities of daily living.

We must take responsibility for preventing TBIs as this type of injury can significantly impact not only the person injured, but also their friends and families in many ways. The CDC provides practical ways to reduce risk and prevent TBI, including:

  1. Wearing seat belts and using proper child safety seats.
  2. Wear helmets when riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle; playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing; using in-line skates or riding a skateboard; batting and running bases in baseball or softball; riding a horse; or skiing or snowboarding.
  3. Make living areas safer for the elderly by removing tripping hazards; using nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors; or installing grab bars in the bathroom.
  4. Making sure the surface on your child's playground is made of shock-absorbing material.

If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury and you are having trouble paying attention, understanding others, expressing yourself, or remembering important information contact your physician to see if you are appropriate for speech therapy.

If you or your loved one has suffered a brain injury and you are interested in connecting with other individuals in our community who have had similar experiences, join us on the first Thursday of every month for the Brain Injury Support Group. The Support Group takes place at The Legacy Living & Rehabilitation Center First Floor Conference Room, 1000 S. Douglas Highway, from 6-8 pm. Refreshments are provided. Learn more about the group at www.cchwyo.org/bisg.

Whitney White, MA, CCC-SLP, is a Speech and Language Therapist at Campbell County Health Rehabilitation Services in the Stocktrail Building, 508 Stocktrail Avenue in Gillette. Individuals should be referred to a speech therapist by their doctor if they are having trouble swallowing food, liquids, or medication. To learn more about the Speech Therapy services available at Campbell County Health Rehabilitation Services, visit www.cchwyo.org/speech or call 307-688-8000.

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