Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Unlike most neurological disorders, traumatic brain injuries can be prevented by following these precautions:

  • Wear a seat belt every time time you drive or ride in a car
  • Buckle your child into a safety seat, booster seat or seat belt every time s/he rides in a car
  • Never drive when under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Wear a helmet every time you ride a bike or motorcycle, play a contact sport such as football, bat or run bases in baseball or softball, use in-line skates or a skateboard, ride a horse, ski or snowboard
  • Ensure that during athletic games you and your children use the right protective equipment, follow the safety rules and rules for the sport, practice good sportsmanship and never return to play if you have a known or suspected concussion until you have been evaluated and given permission by a health care professional
  • Keep firearms and bullets stored in a locked cabinet when not in use
  • Make living areas safer for seniors by removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs or clutter in walkways, use nonslip mats in bathtubs and showers, install grab bars next to toilets and in showers and bathtubs, install handrails on both sides of stairways, improve lighting throughout homes, and maintain regular physical activity which improves lower body strength and balance
  • Avoid falls by using a step stool to reach objects stored on a high shelf, installing handrails on stairways, installing window guards, using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs for small children
  • Make sure surface of your children's playground is made of shock-absorbing material such as hardwood mulch or sand and is maintained at an appropriate depth.


Remember that automobile accidents are a major cause of traumatic brain injuries. Damage in accidents can be reduced by taking a number of safety precautions and taking advantage of safety measures in vehicles like the use of seat belts, child safety seats and the presence of roll bars (to prevent injury in the case of rollovers) and airbags. And never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which can greatly increase your chances of becoming involved in a car accident.

You should always go see a doctor when you have suffered a blow to the head of any sort. Some symptoms of traumatic brain injuries that signify that you need emergency medical care include:

 

  • convulsions
  • weakness of numbness in the extremities
  • repeated vomiting
  • slurred speech.


The immediate effects of a traumatic brain injury cause bruising and swelling to the brain. When injured brain tissue swells up, it creates pressure. As the injured tissue expands, it pushes against the skull with increasing force and causes additional damage to the brain. The longer you wait to seek medical attention, the greater the possibility of worsened damage.

It is also important in the recovery process to follow your doctor's instructions and timelines to return to work, school or play after suffering a traumatic brain injury. You should never return to a high-risk activity like sports or even riding a bicycle if you have any remaining symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. Once your symptoms are no longer experienced, your physician will instruct you to gradually and carefully return to your regular daily activities.

Increased rest and limited exertion are vital on the road to recovery. If you have experienced a traumatic brain injury, you should take great caution in returning to activities such as driving, especially if you have problems with attention, processing speed or reaction time as a result of your injury. You should get plenty of sleep and take naps or breaks when you feel tired. The symptoms of your injury can often reoccur with exertion whether it be physical like running or exercising or cognitive like reading or writing.

You should not rush returning to work after experiencing a traumatic brain injury. An injury such as this can affect how you perform both physically and cognitively. Regardless of your type of job, you should take care before returning to your full load of work. You may need to modify your work day or work load as you recover. You may need a shortened work day or extra breaks if you get tired or your symptoms return. You should not drive, lift heavy objects or work with machinery until you are fully recovered.