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Kenny Vigil
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Steps to Prevent Traumatic Brain Injuries

March 31, 2014 - Injury Prevention - Awareness

With one-fourth of all injury-related deaths in New Mexico involving traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the New Mexico Department of Health encourages everyone to learn the risks and take appropriate steps to prevent or treat head injuries.

A traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal functions of the brain. Most cases of traumatic brain injury are concussions but TBIs of all severities can affect memory, judgment, sleep patterns, reflexes, speech, coordination, balance and behavior (personality changes, aggression, acting out, etc.).

"Concussions happen most often in motor vehicle accidents and athletic activities, but they can happen anywhere, including our own backyards," said Secretary of Health Retta Ward, MPH. "In any case where head trauma and a brain injury is suspected, it is important to seek medical care from a health care provider. Having both physical and cognitive tests after a head injury is critical to the best recovery and helps the provider determine the best course of treatment.”

In 2012, 384 deaths, 1,165 hospitalizations and over 14,000 emergency department visits due to traumatic brain injury occurred among New Mexico residents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year approximately 1.4 million people experience a TBI in the United States. Those injuries contribute to the deaths of more than 50,000 Americans a year, or an average of 138 per day.

The Department of Health strongly encourages New Mexicans to follow simple prevention techniques to avoid TBI, including:

  • Proper use of protective equipment and safe playing techniques in sports and recreation activities;
  • Wear a protective helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle;
  • The use of properly installed infant and child car seats and seat belts;
  • Because babies’ neck muscles and spines are too fragile to protect their brains if they are shaken; caregivers of all ages need to be aware that they should never shake a baby; and,
  • For seniors, eliminating trip hazards in the home, regularly reviewing medications, and having an annual eye exam. In addition, routine exercise is especially important for older New Mexicans to help maintain or improve balance and coordination to prevent falls that may result in TBI.

Visit the CDC Traumatic Brain Injuries page for more information.

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