Think With Your Head and Protect Your Brain
Mar 5, 2014 - 11:04:01 AM

( - WASHINGTON, March 5, 2014  -- An estimated 1.7 million traumatic brain injury-related hospitalizations and emergency visits occur each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With March being Brain Injury Awareness Month, the nation's emergency physicians want to promote good head health.

"Sadly, you can't prevent every brain injury from occurring," said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "But the number of patients we treat who are suffering from injuries that were preventable is alarming."

About 52,000 in the United States die each year because of traumatic brain injury -- another 80,000 to 90,000 deal with a long term disability.

The severity of a brain injury can vary from "mild" to "severe." Nearly 80 percent of people are treated and released from an emergency department, according to the CDC.

Traumatic brain injury can be caused by a number of events.  More than 35 percent of these injuries are caused by falls, 21 percent are miscellaneous accidents and more than 17 percent are caused by motor vehicle or traffic crashes.

Traumatic brain injury has been getting a significant amount of attention in recent years because of current and former NFL players who say hard hits to their heads and repeated concussions throughout their playing careers have caused them to have life-altering symptoms of brain injury.

One of the most common brain injuries is a concussion. Most people recover quickly and fully, but for some, it takes longer.

Physical symptoms of a concussion may include:

--  Headache
--  Loss of consciousness
--  Blurry vision
--  Nausea or vomiting
--  Dizziness
--  Balance problems
--  Light and noise sensitivity
There are many ways to protect your brain or at least decrease the severity of injury.  Some include:

--  Always wear certified safety helmets when biking, motorcycling,
snowmobiling, skiing, skating, snowboarding, horseback riding, sledding,
rollerblading, skateboarding and many other activities that lead your
head vulnerable to hitting hard surfaces.
--  Properly wear a seatbelt at all times in a moving vehicle.
--  Two-thirds of all-terrain vehicle accidents involve children under 16.
Always wear a helmet when operating them.
--  Always wear helmets when playing hard contact sports like football and
--  Properly install a child's safety seat, have it inspected, and make sure
your child is strapped in correctly depending on their specific age.
"Clearly the best thing you can do if you hit your head, and you're unsure of the severity, is to come to the emergency room to get checked out," said Dr. Rosenau. "We'd much rather see you and send you home as opposed to seeing you and then admitting you to the hospital for something more serious."

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.

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